Diet and Exercise

As the age-old saying goes, “your body is your temple.” But what does that really mean? In medical school we learned all about the human organism. We viewed it through the lens of a microscope; we studied the different organs, systems, and interactions between them all. It is quite fascinating! But the simple truth is that we each get only one body, and how you take care of that body will determine how the soul within that body experiences life.

Exercise is essential for good heart health. You should talk with a health care professional before you begin any exercise program; however, simply walking more each day is a good start. Regular daily exercise of 20-30 minutes reduces blood pressure, lowers cholesterol, burns body fat, relieves depression, and increases confidence and self-esteem.

Running man

I understand healthy eating and daily exercise can be difficult—I’ve experienced it first-hand. Years ago, I became so busy with school and work and didn’t have time to exercise or focus on my diet, at least I thought I didn’t. I became overweight and sluggish. One day, I decided to make a change: I was going to start running. I took a few running leaps, but barely made it down the block before curling up in a ball in a failed attempt to catch my breath.

It didn’t feel good. In fact, it felt pretty terrible. And that’s when I knew I had to keep going.

Five months after the morning when I couldn’t run a block without feeling like my chest was on fire, I ran the New York City marathon. When I crossed the finish line in Central Park, I felt like I was on fire again. But this time that fire was pride. I cried like a baby. Right there at the finish line.

Today, I still run. I went from dreading it to totally loving it. And my diet consists of low-fat, water-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables. When I deviate from this menu, my body lets me know with weight gain, sluggishness, and weakness.

Exercise is the elixir of life, energy, and vitality, and I believe that when it’s combined with a balanced diet that fuels the temple, no limit can be placed on the body.

Empower yourself

I tell my patients that assessing and controlling their heart disease risk factors, such as blood pressure, weight, and cholesterol levels, should not feel scary, but should empower them to make healthy lifestyle choices.

Take action and become your own health care advocate. Increase your exercise and moderate your food intake. Ask informed questions of your doctors and health care providers and be a partner in achieving total heart health. Exercise, a healthy diet, and empowering yourself with knowledge are three simple steps to better heart health and a happier mind, body, and spirit.