Bigger Than Biceps: Choosing a healthy lifestyle and keeping loved ones around

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With the most incredibly mystifying election upon us, I find it hard to believe that I have friends and family either not registered to vote or that they don't know what's going on in the election. At this point, how can you not? I simply shake my head and spare them the lecture. My mom at least has gone from "I'm not voting," to "I'm writing in Cat in the Hat." Sigh.

Persuading others to do something you want them to do is difficult. I've learned this after years of trying to get my boyfriend and family to eat healthier and exercise. I educate myself more and more and preach to them more and more, but it's up to them to change.

Disclosure: I'm not throwing my family under the bus, but giving insight to my surroundings and why about general health and wellness.

Lately I've been thinking about my family's health. My mother, her brother and sister (aunt and uncle) and my brother all smoke cigarettes. My dad did too when he was alive, but he could also do push-ups with me on his back, one-handed and eyes closed, if he wanted to. He also stayed the same size for as long as I could remember. He was a Marine, so the endurance and stamina he built while in the military stayed with him throughout his life.

I understand that smoking is an addiction, or maybe I don't, but it frustrates me more than ever to see the addiction go on; even with the invention of the ridiculous vaping machines that initially were supposed to help smokers wean off the stick. I throw my shots here and there when they light up, but again, it's up to them to quit. Sometimes, I cringe thinking I have to standby until a medical emergency gets them to stop, but I've also had relatives where that didn't even stop them.

I'm also waiting for the medical errors to kick in with bad eating, like diabetes or high cholesterol for example. I'm probably the only one in my immediate family who eats five small meals a day. The rest, probably one or two, not constituted as meals. Is following an eating plan so challenging that you would rather eat poorly and later have even stricter guidelines to control blood pressure or heart issues?

Growing up I gave attitude about eating healthy and smoking to my mom, who would respond with, "No one is as perfect as you, Makayla." That wasn't the point, and maybe I just didn't know how to get my point across; I still struggle.

What does it take to get someone realize that they're life is in jeopardy if they don't change their lifestyle? We are already exposed to the terrifying cigarette smoking advertisements that display ever ailment caused by the addiction, but what about an overall unhealthy lifestyle? Continue to convince and educate them on what could happen if action isn't taken. But, also be supportive of the smallest amount of effort. Any change is big change.

The effects of not exercising: immobility, increased weight and blood pressure, more prone to injuries because of weakened bone and joint structures, and a diminished self-esteem.

The effects of a poor diet: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and stroke, weight gain, energy imbalance/being tired more often, tooth decay, depression, and eating disorders (which can lead to death).

The effects of smoking cigarettes: a bunch of different cancers, discolored teeth, poor nail-beds, decreased breathing quality, expensive medical bills and death.

It takes a physical and mental toll. By all means, learn to love yourself as is, and if it makes you happy, then so be it. But, it's important to understand the long-term issues caused by neglect of a healthy lifestyle. Healthy also means many different things to people, such as recovering from a disease or eating well but not exercising.

An individual's health comes before anyone else's, however, letting it go can affect the ones around you. If I stop exercising and eating well, then I don't walk my dog anymore and his exercise suffers or I don't support local farmers markets. If my family stops smoking, the cigarette industries lose customers, they decrease their chance at getting cancer and it lowers my risk of second-hand smoke as well as the impact cigarette butts on the environment and animals.

It's not about living a good or bad life, but about making the most beneficial choices and leaving the least amount of negative impacts on the environment and those around you.

— Makayla-Courtney McGeeney can be reached at (802)-447-7567, ext. 118.


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