Eight ways to be healthy in ’08 | VailDaily.com

Eight ways to be healthy in ’08

Caramie Schnell and Charlie Owen
Vail, CO, Colorado
AE 8 ways to be healthier KA 12-29-07

We’re not trying to tell you what to do. Well, maybe a little. But it’s just because we care and these are things we’re attempting to do in our own lives ” drink less, exercise more, wear our seatbelts EVERY time we get in a car. And some of our eight recommendations aren’t that bad, really. More sex isn’t such a bad thing and salad really can taste good if you move past the wilted iceberg lettuce concoctions of your past and experiment a little bit.

Either way, there’s nothing like a new year for a new start. So what do you say? We’ll give it a shot if you will.

You know which one we mean. Smoking is one of the hardest habits to kick; anyone who has ever tried to quit can tell you that, but the rewards gained by quitting are worth it.

According to the 2004 Surgeon General’s Report posted on the website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, within 20 minutes of quitting smoking, your heart rate dropsl; 12 hours after your last cigarette the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal; within three months your heart attack risk begins to drop and your lung function begins to improve; a year later your risk of coronary disease is half that of a smokers. The website also notes that smoking harms nearly every organ in the body and raises your risk of contracting cancer and heart and lung disease.

“You have to be committed. There’s no magic secret. Everybody’s looking for the magic pill to take to quit smoking,” said Dr. Drew Werner, family practice doctor at Eagle Valley Medical Center in Eagle.

He suggests using the buddy system; partnering with somebody else who is quitting and understands what you will be going through.

“Quit with somebody and kind of suffer through it with them,” Werner suggested.

Werner equates quitting smoking with losing your best friend, and said that you should reward yourself for not smoking by doing something that you wouldn’t ordinarily do, such as buying new clothes that you don’t need.

Of course there are a myriad of other things that you can do to finally quit smoking ” hypnosis, the patch and gum among them, but the commitment has to be there for anything to work.

Whether it’s learning the art of calligraphy or how to grow a bonsai tree in the High Country, it’s important to try new hobbies and take classes to keep your mind fresh, says Fraidy Aber, executive director of the Vail Symposium.

“We normally seek the news and information that feeds our perceptions. Taking a Symposium program is great way to expand, open and engage in dialogue with great thinkers of our time,” Aber said.

The Symposium recently announced their winter lineup, which along with courses in calligraphy and bonsai trees, includes 35 others. There’s a poetry reading and workshop with famed poet Rosemerry Whatola Trommer, a documentary film series and the Hot Topics series where experts in their respective fields talk about everything from post-Taliban Afghanistan to Mexican immigration.

“It’s great exercise to keep thinking fresh … it keeps your brain dynamic,” Aber said.

Sex, like milk, does a body good, says sex expert Yvonne Fulbright, author of “Touch Me There.” The benefits are numerous ” sex is credited with everything from relieving stress, curbing migraine, menstrual cramp and back pain, helping people sleep to boosting your immune system, Fulbright said. And forget the elliptical machine ” 30 minutes in the sack can burn as many as 200 calories.

“The classic example is Kerry MCloskey who landed herself on Oprah with her book on how she slimmed down by having sex with her fiance, now husband,” she said. “Sex makes for improved strength, flexibility, muscle tone and cardiovascular toning.”

If there’s one thing Eagle County is full of it’s non-profits. Maybe this year is the time to find a local charity to donate your time or talent to. Want to help kids? Check out the local Buddy Program or give the Youth Foundation a call. Dig the symphony? Maybe Bravo! is the right fit. Whatever you chose, one thing is for sure ” you’re likely to get more out of it than you put in.

” You go thinking you’re going to give a lot but it turns out you get much more than you thought you’d get in return,” said Allan Goldberg, executive director of First Descents, a local nonprofit that hosts kayak camps for young adults with cancer.

“Everyone says, I came one morning wanting to help out and I got way more out of it than I thought I could give. I think that’s the win win of volunteering. You find yourself wanting to give for the right reasons but you get so much out of it you almost feel like you’re cheating ” that’s what I hear all the time.”

It’s hard to give up drinking completely, but laying off the booze at least a little bit this year will improve your general health more than you might expect.

Expecting not to drink when all your buddies are going to a concert is a near impossibility, but for those nights when you’re tempted to crack a few cold ones while watching “The Daily Show,” you can resist temptation and win one for your liver.

Two drinks, two to three times per week is a safe level of alcohol consumption according to Dr. Deborah Wiancek, a naturopathic physician in Edwards.

But if you find yourself craving more than that, get off of your butt and exercise.

“Exercise is very good because it’s hard to do exercise when you have a hangover. When people start feeling better they realize what the alcohol is doing to them. Alcohol causes dehydration, fatigue (and) it affects our sleep,” Wiancek said.

More than two drinks, two or three times a week is considered at-risk drinking and poses serious risk for alcohol related illness and alcoholism, according to local doctor, Drew Werner.

There is no doubt that it’s easier to be a couch potato than a professional athlete. For many, lack of activity is the first step in a downward spiral leading to weight gain and other health problems.

Whether you need to lose weight or just need to lower your cholesterol, physical activity is very important to keep the body from falling apart.

“The biggest obstacle for many people is just walking into a gym or yoga studio,” said Amy Baker, a personal trainer at Dogma Athletica in Edwards. “And I say just do it, walk through the door and make that commitment.”

Naturophathic physician Deborah Wiancek agreed.

“Studies show that everyone should be getting one hour of exercise in a day five times a week,” Wiancek said. Simply walking for the recommended duration period can help prevent heart disease, lower cholesterol and help lose weight, she said.

Some people don’t set goals because they’re afraid to fail, but it can often be the only way to mark improvement. Working up to bigger and better fitness goals will keep you from being overwhelmed by fear of not achieving anything at all.

“Go for that walk before work (because it’s less likely to happen after work), take that leap of faith and try a yoga class, make a goal to compete in the town bike series this summer and start back on the bike today,” Baker said.

With obesity rates on the rise in almost every age group, it’s easy to feel like losing weight is hopeless, but if it’s one of your New Year resolutions, don’t give up on it.

Dieting is a common solution to losing weight, but often it involves radical steps that one might not be ready for yet.

What else can be done to battle the bulge besides subscribing to a fad diet and abstaining from carbs or starving yourself?

“People need to get into protein with each meal,” Dr. Deborah Wiancek said. Foods such as eggs, oatmeal with nuts and natural peanut butter help lower the desire to eat foods that are high in carbohydrates and can also rebuild muscle tissue after heavy activity.

And of course, don’t skip the salad.

“The more colorful a salad would be, the more vitamins and minerals you’re getting,” Wiancek said. “A small salad at lunch or with dinner can give you five veggies right there.”

This might be the easiest of the eight things we’re listing here, but that doesn’t make it any less important. Motor vehicle accidents are a major cause of death and injury, according to Dr. Drew Werner, who included this recommendation on his list of ways to be healthy in 2008. When used properly, seat belts decrease the number of serious injuries by 50 percent and reduce fatalities by 60 to 70 percent. It’s important to buckle up even when you’re just driving to the local grocery store just down the street. That story your grandmothers been telling you all these years is true ” 75 percent of crash injuries and death occur within 25 miles of home and more than half of all injury-producing accidents occur at speeds less than 40 miles per hour, according to the web site http://www.everydayhealth.com. Make it a habit ” buckle up before you start your vehicle.

High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 748-2984 or cschnell@vaildaily.com; High Life writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 748-2939 or cowen@vaildaily.com.

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