By Gina Cousineau
Not only do I celebrate four years of getting to share this health and wellness column with all of you this month, but this week, I turn 60! This is the first birthday that makes me take pause. I think the reality that two-thirds of my life is complete, given my parents’ longevity at 89 and 93, is eye-opening, to say the least.
While I am a generally healthy, exceptionally active human, I have still inherited heart disease risk and have a handful of my own medical issues/ailments, likely a combination of genetics, exposures, and just plain old time. That being said, I have a whole host of feelings that are occupying my mind during this monumental moment in my life.
We all know that the “day before” a tragic event occurs, or before receiving news of a life-altering diagnosis or of a death, our lives were somewhat “normal and routine.” But in one moment, our lives can be knocked off-kilter.
As for me, surviving a handful of these tremendous tragedies in life, and persevering, it is no wonder that one of my “big bucket” list items will be met in October, when my son and I, and others, will climb Mt. Whitney and hoping to reach the summit. I have often wondered if “I am running for my life or running from my life.”
I come to you today, once again attempting to get through to so many of you, pleading with you not to wait until it is too late, and instead encouraging you to advocate for your health and shift your lifestyle choices today.
I have so many prospective clients that come to me after the bad news is given, with numbers out of range for cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, or test results indicating cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, or perhaps even cancer.
Though this initially sounds dismal, the good news can’t be denied, that with small shifts in your lifestyle/behaviors, starting with food choices (nothing punitive or restrictive, I promise) paired with a little exercise (a walking program), that you can attain a little weight loss and even more health gain. But, alas, the fear of failure prevents us from even trying.
So, today, I ask you to help me celebrate my big Six-0, and that is to simply allow me to help you improve your health so that you can experience more joy in your lifetime, rather than giving in to the aging process.
Let’s try some small but mighty daily changes that can improve our health and try to commit to one of these suggestions each week:
- Step outside daily and simply walk for 21 minutes. If you do this seven days weekly, you will meet the recommended 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise.
- Try to eat more plants daily, including them at every meal and snack—fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts/seeds, and legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils).
- Add lean animal protein (including nonfat/low-fat dairy) and/or plant-based proteins to every meal and snack.
- Include healthy fats (liquid oils, nuts/seeds, avocado) with all meals and snacks.
- Limit sugar, salt and refined grains.
- And be sure to have an occasional treat/splurge that you love.
Lastly, along with working with individuals of all ages and circumstances, in both private and group settings, we offer nutritious and delicious recipes, cooking sessions, and webinars every single month for free. Register at mamagslifestyle.com for our weekly newsletter.
Gina Cousineau, aka Mama G, is your local nutrition expert, chef, and fitness professional, with her BS in Nutrition and MS in functional and integrative nutrition. She uses a food-as-medicine approach for weight loss to health gain, and everything in between. Follow her on social media @mamagslifestyle, and check out her website mamagslifestyle.com to learn more about her programs and freebies offered throughout the year.