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The Sun-Times - Heber Springs, AR
  • Taking time for health pays off

  • I am a Cardinals fan, my dad was a Cardinals fan, my brother was a Cardinals fan; win or lose, I will always be a Cardinals fan. Don't bother me when a game is on! I do wish the players would follow healthful habits year round and I feel sure winning ballgames would be a breeze for my Cardinals.
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  • I am a Cardinals fan, my dad was a Cardinals fan, my brother was a Cardinals fan; win or lose, I will always be a Cardinals fan. Don't bother me when a game is on! I do wish the players would follow healthful habits year round and I feel sure winning ballgames would be a breeze for my Cardinals.
    Three years ago, first baseman Lance Berkman, who was once a champion home run hitter, seemed to be a “has been”. He had become sloppy and overweight; everyone thought he was too old to play in the big league. His career seemed to be over and no team wanted him. By the end of the 2010 season, the once powerful home run hitting Houston first baseman, that Cardinals fans had dreaded seeing come to the plate, could no longer play at the big league level. However, Berkman got busy, cleaned up his diet, and started a healthy workout program that he continued for the entire year. By the 2011 baseball season he looked and felt great—the Cardinals grabbed him and he was the greatest comeback in baseball. He was hitting better than ever and was a fantastic first baseman.
    This year Berkman was back with the Cardinals, not looking or feeling so good. He is out now with injuries and it is questionable whether he will be able to play another year. It is probable since he did so well last year that he let his healthy diet and routine slip, telling himself as most of us do, that it won't matter that much. He was dreading the end of the season of 2011 because he was going to have to start his rigid health routine again. Even with the millions of dollars and ability to play a game that he loves at stake, I wonder if he did?
    There are lessons for athletes, and for us all, if we are open and willing to learn from experiences like those of Lance Berkman, one of the greatest baseball players of modern times.
    How many of us have cleaned up our diets, and began a healthy exercise program with good results. We looked and felt great. In fact, we may have said that we felt so good that never again would we allow ourselves slip into poor habits. Then we started telling ourselves it won't hurt if we miss a day or two of exercise as we have so much work to do. We have to work at the church, in the yard, take care of the grandkids, help the kids with homework. There are a million excuses not to exercise or prepare healthful meals.
    Once the excuses begin and we slip back, it is much easier to slip further. Before we know it, we are back into the same routine that led to poor health. We are back where we started, or maybe even in worse shape. It is an easy thing to rationalize ourselves right into lousy health.
    Page 2 of 2 - Like Berkman, all of us are getting older by the day. We may not be able to get away with abusing our bodies like we did in younger days. I see many young people who seem to feel like old people though—they are not getting by with it either. Hugh Downs once said he feels as good as he did when he was young but he wouldn't dare do to his body what he did then.
    Knowing that is it our nature to slip into old habits, maybe we need to plan strategies that will help us stay on track.
    Perhaps the most beneficial thing we can do for ourselves is find the off button on the television set. Mindless TV watching can take up hours of time that could be spent creatively, preparing healthful foods, taking walks, visiting with friends, or in daily meditation. Yes, the Mayo Clinic recommends meditation as an important factor in reducing stress and creating good health. Decide what you think is worth your valuable time and when you watch television, watch with mindfulness. Don't let the television take over your mind and body! There is power in the off button!
    If we don't take time for health, we will surely take time for sickness. It is much easier and more pleasant to eat healthfully and exercise than to lie in bed in a hospital or nursing home. If we don't take care of ourselves, someone else will have to do it for us.
    Think about health, not sickness and you will be more likely to do those things which create health. Be aware and decide if the activities in which you participate are supporting what you want most in life. Aren't you sick and tired of being sick and tired?
    Support groups seem to be one of the most successful ways in which to continue a healthful program.
    (Janice Norris lives in Heber Springs, has a B.S. in home economics from Murray State University, taught home economics, owned and operated health food stores in Illinois and Heber Springs, has taught numerous health and nutrition classes, and wrote a weekly newspaper column in Illinois for 15 years. She can be reached at janicenorris34@yahoo.com)

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