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Healthy living is marathon . Winter is almost over, and spring is just around the corner. The diet industry is cutting back on its instant gratification advertising and I know the pain of these annual magic diets. In my past life, it would be about this time of year that I would be justifying my “cheat days.” That’s when I would put calorie counting on the back burner and have a day where I pig out.

That is “Stinking Thinking.” First, if your diet makes you so miserable that you want to cheat, you are about to quit.

Then there is the whole calorie counting debacle. I never figured out the logic of counting calories. An avocado is about 318 calories and is a fantastic healthy fruit. An 8-ounce soda pop has about 100 calories and about 6.5 teaspoons of sugar. Calorie counting was too complicated for me and it did not motivate me to get off unhealthy food.

Foods that contains sodium, sugar, saturated fat and industrial additives, not only screw up weight loss, they really mess up a healthy lifestyle. I don’t trust food labels. Read the ingredients first. The more contents listed that are words you never heard of or initials that make no sense, the more you should look for something else. It should be simple and easy to understand.

Canned veggies can be as nutritious as fresh if there are no added ingredients. Processing canned veggies may have added sugar, salt and fat. When sodium intake increases so does cardiovascular disease, congestive heart failure and kidney disease. If you are 51 or older it is very important to reduce sodium intake because it may cause of hypertension, diabetes, or chronic disease.

Last month I sat in on a continuing education course for medical professionals conducted by a top heart doctor. As he finished, he said to the group of medical professionals “How would you like to lower your blood pressure?” Every hand went up.

He stood up from the chair where he had been sitting through his presentation and smiled. He got everybody’s attention. This is what he said.

Drink lots of water, eat fresh fruits and veggies, walk and get more sleep.

Instant gratification does not work. Life is a marathon. Go to a big mirror and ask this question: “If I keep on drinking, eating, walking and sleeping like I am, where will I be next year on this day?”

I asked myself this question on June 12, 2006 and I changed my life forever. Drinking lots of water and no sugar drinks is a habit. It took a while, but it is a habit and routine. Seven or more fresh or frozen fruits and veggies and nuts go down the hatch to the gut to fuel this magnificent machine most every day.

You will see this hulk “walking briskly” mostly 20 to 48 minutes somewhere just about every day.

About 9 p.m. every night I have a meeting with “the man in the moon.” Sleeping seven or more hours a day is more than a habit, or routine. It is happy Healthy Living.