January is a time when we all set resolutions and, in 2019, my goals include continuing to help each of you to achieve your highest state of wellbeing. During my 25 years serving patients with cancer, I have seen firsthand that much of the illness in our society is effectively self-induced. Our habits are literally killing us. They lead to cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and more. We say we want to change, but so often we don’t change our bad habits.
I’d like to support you by making it as easy as possible to change the things that don’t serve you. First and foremost, I ask that you put your health first in 2019. I do so every day to the best of my ability, no matter what is on my agenda. For example, I buy and eat high-quality, organic foods, I am mindful of what I eat when I dine out, and I plan ahead to ensure that I get to the gym or exercise outdoors at least five days a week. Still, despite good intent, my diet and exercise are far from perfect. I had dessert last night and, this morning, I blew off my scheduled bike ride to catch a flight. These things happen. What matters is that I adhere to the plan often enough to support long-term good health.
There are many things that you can do right now—regardless of your age or fitness level—to support your health and wellbeing and to reduce your risk of heart disease, which is the #1 cause of death in both men and women in the United States and around the world. Here are a few easy ways to start:
1. Know your blood pressure numbers. There are often no symptoms or signs of hypertension, often referred to as the “silent killer.” If untreated, hypertension damages blood vessels and increases the risk for heart attack and stroke. Get your blood pressure taken—something you can do for free at many pharmacies—and visit LowerYourHBP.orgfor resources to help you understand your numbers.
2. Know your risk of Type 2 diabetes. An estimated 7.2 million people with diabetes are undiagnosed, and 1 in 3 American adults is at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. Are you at risk? Take the Type 2 diabetes risk assessment in just 60 seconds to find out.
3. Get off the couch. We are a sedentary society. Do you sit at your desk for hours each day only to come home and spend the entire evening on the couch? Sitting for too long can increase your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity. Consider standing intermittently throughout the day and take 5-minute walking and stretching breaks every hour or two. Take the stairs more often. Park farther away if you drive to work.
4. Exercise. Effective exercise does not necessarily equate with the amount of time spent exercising. If you have a busy schedule, high-intensity interval training may be for you. Research shows you can achieve more progress in 15 minutes of interval training than jogging on a treadmill for an hour. Here is a great 9-minute strength workout. If you modify that workout by adding a short, 3-minute cardio warm-up, you’ve got a full body workout in 12 minutes! (Caution: If you’re not in tip-top shape, be sure to seek the advice of a physician before starting a workout plan.)
5. Eat a healthy diet. Did you overeat during the holidays? You don’t necessarily want to start a restrictive diet just because we’ve begun a new year. The pursuit of dramatic weight loss most frequently leads to weight-cycling in which any weight lost is eventually re-gained, sometimes with a bit extra. Making simple dietary changes can help you lose weight and help to prevent high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes. Eat whole foods (foods that are as close to nature as possible) and reduce your intake of packaged, processed foods. Know what you are eating. Read labels. Be aware of portion size, ingredients, and calories. Good habits that are established this month pave the way for a healthy year.
Let’s set forth together on a healthy and happy 2019!
Julie Rosenberg, MD is a pediatric oncologist and global healthcare leader who has worked for nearly 25 years in service to patients with cancer. Through years of working with individuals with life-threatening and life-limiting disease, she has become passionate about helping people achieve optimal health, wellness and life-satisfaction. In addition to working as a pharmaceutical executive, Dr. Rosenberg is an executive coach who helps leaders develop themselves, their teams and embrace conscious living. Julie has devoted the last 16 years to the in-depth study and practice of yoga. Her work demonstrates that the millennia-old physical, mental, and spiritual discipline of yoga not only supports good health and wellbeing, but also helps to strengthen one’s personal and professional leadership skills. In 2017, Julie was selected from among 16,000 applicants by Number 1 Executive Coach and Leadership Thinker, Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, as one of the MG 100, a group of over 100 leading coaches, thinkers and senior business leaders, each of whom is committed to paying it forward. Her first book, Beyond the Mat has been called “transformative”, “insightful”, “practical”, “accessible”, “creative”, and more. She is a highly sought-after speaker, executive coach and committed patient advocate.