To Win, We Have to Lose!

No one enjoys stepping on that scale.

Now, think of the entire country stepping on that same scale.

The CDC encourages us to imagine this in The Weight of the Nation, a HBO documentary following a group of New Orleans individuals as they make a difference in their community by transforming their school lunch menu with healthier, better-tasting options. Their mission has recently been coined, “The Great Cafeteria Takeover.”

Worth the watch, the film brings us to the well-known fact that obesity is a common, serious, and costly health problem, for adults and children alike. Just take a look at these statistics brought to us by The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America, also found at

  • 20 of the 50 states in the U.S. have an adult obesity rate above 30%
  • At least one out of five people in every state is now obese, with a whopping 68.5% of all American adults at the overweight level.
  • One in 10 children become obese from ages 2 to 5; about 5% of 6 to 11 year-olds are “severely” obese.
  • In 2013, obesity rates rose in six states -Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, New Jersey, Tennessee and Wyoming
  • Blacks and Latinos have the highest rates of obesity nationwide, and Whites the lowest.
  • 42% of Latino and 47.8% of African-American adults are obese compared with 32.6% of Whites. Childhood obesity rates among these groups follow a similar pattern.

This frightening data underscores our country’s desperate need for affordable healthy food, safe places to be physically active, and access to proper healthcare for all communities. It is essential for us as parents, siblings, friends and family alike to understand the epidemic of obesity; and it is crucial for us to see the life threatening warning for ourselves as well.

Steps to make the healthy choice the easy choice.

The State of Obesity report suggests strategies to address disparities:

  • Ensure community-based obesity prevention and control strategies are culturally and linguistically appropriate.
  • Increase the use of promotores (community health workers, peer leaders and health advocates) who more effectively connect Latino communities with public health services.
  • Implement standards to limit the amount of advertising of foods of low nutritional value.
  • Recruit grocery stores through grant programs to support affordable healthy products.
  • Partnerships between government, businesses, faith-based groups, community organizations, schools and others to create healthy food access and safe places for physical activity in neighborhoods.

Involve local communities, and open up new ideas from the public by visiting the CDC here directly.

“The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.” ~William James

To win we have to lose.

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Healthy is Always in Style!


Did you do some back to school shopping last week? Or take the family on one last getaway, to end summer with a bang?

As we made that turn around the bend into Labor Day this past weekend, we invited a new school year for teachers and children, from new backpacks and pencils to new schedules and routines. We invited a new quarter for many businesses. At the same time, we welcome other changes this time of the year brings– new seasonal fruits and vegetables, brisk temperatures- simply new beginnings everywhere we look.


With so many new beginnings all around us, why not make this September the “new January”?

Why wait for New Year’s Eve to vow to make more time for exercise and healthy eating? According to Justice Price, personal trainer and wellness coach from The Biomechanics, “December 31, over a drink, is too late to set goals and make promises.”

“With the change of seasons comes a renewed time to rethink and restart,”

adds Chris Freytag, fitness instructor for Prevention magazine. With summer dwindling down, we encourage you to make the most of this season. What is even better is that you do NOT need hours to make this happen! According to the NY Times, running just 5 minutes a day can add years to your life. What’s more, is that the Journal of the American College of Cardiology’s recent study continued on to show that mere minutes may provide the same health benefits as running for much longer periods of time, reducing cardiovascular mortality risks among numerous other health concerns. Results of this study show an amazing 30% of participants were less likely to die from cardiovascular complications than non-runners..even if they did not run a lot! In addition, 45% were less likely to die from heart disease or stroke – almost HALF!

The key point to take home? The running-related health benefits for all participants were similar, regardless of other exercise habits, age, sex, weight, smoking, drinking, or even family history of heart disease.

So is there something particularly special about running that makes it stand out more than other exercise?

Timothy Church, professor at the Pennington Institute and co-author of the study, claims that it’s more a matter about intense exercise in general. “Running is an easy way to get intense exercise, even if you aren’t a particularly fast runner. It takes a lot more out of you than things that qualify as moderate exercise, like walking.” “The benefits are remarkable.”

So lace up the sneakers. Errol MD, along with WebMD, encourage you to try the following steps to making this September your fresh start.

Happy New Year!

  • Take advantage of the fall perks – walking, hiking, cycling, jogging – discover the beauty of sightseeing with the changing colors of the leaves at local parks or even down the neighborhood road. Use your senses to breathe in the crisp, fresh fall scents and practice your meditation and relaxation techniques


  • Think outside the box – Use the season to try something new. From kickboxing, to kayaking, to tap dancing, your kids’ school day and busy schedule can be an advantage for more you You can even revert to summer activities with a twist, like visiting the much less crowded beaches for a long walk or yoga session.


  • Integrate exercise into your life – Try “walking meetings” at work, or add music to your house chores. Make it a habit to walk every night after dinner, or plan fall activities that involve walking, like apple picking. Anything to you get you moving counts! Check out 10 great ways to enjoy an autumn walk! Or even join a walking club.


  • Mind, body, and soul are a package deal – Pamper yourself to a massage or learn how to meditate. Web MD recommends, “Treating yourself not just with exercise but to other activities that promote wellness, so you can feel good physically, mentally, emotionally, AND spiritually.”


  • 30 Days – Flash dieting did not work in the summer, and it will not work now! It takes 4 weeks for the body to adapt to lifestyle changes, which is why most people who give up on their fitness goals do so within that first 30 days. This means do not hit that snooze button. Roll yourself up and out, and the rewards will come.


  • Commitment, Convenience & Consistency – We are all busy; it is part of our lives and who we are. In the beginning, you may need to plan exercise as you plan everything else, like meetings, dinner, and soccer games. Put it on the calendar, so “later” does not turn into “never”. Plan things that can fit into your personal and unique lifestyle. If you have 10 minutes today, that is perfect. Allow exercise to become part of your lifestyle.


  • Create a challenge - Anything worth having takes work. Creating a challenge for yourself will motivate you, as will encouragement and accountability. “Tell me something you can do three times a week for 10 minutes and be great at? It doesn’t exist,” added personal trainer, Price. “If it was easy to be great, everybody would be great.”



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Get Fit, As a Family!

Do you ever think that healthy eating and working out would be easy if it weren’t for your spouse or kids? Reasons that prevent a family from getting healthier are wide-ranging – from your child being in a non-vegetable eating phase, the constant need for on-hand snacks & sweets, the higher calorie content need of another family member, to holidays and birthday parties alike.

These common challenges families face to adopting healthier lifestyles are having dire consequences.   According to research by the CDC, “America’s youth, as a group, are becoming more out of shape with every passing year, regardless of their family’s economic situation.” Statistics show that less than a third of children 12-18 exercise as much as they should. The Cleveland Clinic has even started a pediatric cardiology clinic and, as its director states, “Thirty years ago, we would not have expected to see 12-year-olds with symptoms of cardiac disease.”

But guess what? You can take steps to get fit, as a family!

Fill up on the good, leave less room for the bad -
It might not be possible to give up some unhealthy favorites.  Are you or anyone in your family a die-hard creamy ice cream fan? Instead of filling up the bowl with ice cream, add fruit to the bowl and top with a small scoop of ice cream. Or try new flavors of low-fat frozen yogurts.

Sneaky Cook –
Sneak healthy, low-fat, low-calorie foods into your family’s favorite meals. For example, if your children like cheese omelets, keep fat in check by using 50 percent reduced-fat cheese and liquid egg whites, adding in a garden fresh veggies like tomatoes, red peppers, even broccoli.

Make it Fun -
A stop at the nearest fast food joint does not count as family quality time, but getting the kids or your spouse involved in food shopping or cooking can be! It not only strengthens the family bond but it can actually help them take more of an interest in your efforts to eat healthfully. Flip through pages of a healthy eating cookbook and pick out something new tonight!

Summer’s #1 Advantage? Early and Extended Daylight
You don’t need to wait until the sun is at the highest point to tie the laces. Exercise first thing in the morning or, after work, take the family to the park. Depending on where you live, the lake or the beach might also be possible.

Make Fitness A Family Event
Does your child takes an active interest in why you lay out a yoga mat and bend your body into pretzel shapes? Or does your spouse find the lap around the block as relaxing as you do? Invite the family along! From yoga and walking to aerobic dancing and fitness DVDs, you have a huge variety of options to choose from.

No Excuses!
Are you totally sure your 7 year olds’ busy schedule is keeping you from working out?  Throw on a pair of sneakers and walk the perimeter of the baseball field while he or she practices?

Schedule That!
Just like PTA meetings and dentist appointments, if you throw it on the family calendar, everyone is more likely to show up! Choose a time after school or after work or on the weekends when most family members are likely to be free and plan a family outing.

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Move That Body!

Time and health are two precious assets that we don’t recognize and appreciate until they have been depleted. – Denis Waitley

Regular exercise can improve heart function, lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar control, alleviate depression, decrease the risk of cancer, ensure a good night’s sleep and help manage weight.  I’m not talking about strenuous exercise – studies show that even gentle walking and moderate intensity physical activities have health benefits.

Have you noticed the way you feel after a great walk around the neighborhood? Exercise is endorphin boosting as well and brings out those smiles and positive attitudes.


Consult your doctor before exercising if you’re seriously overweight, have a personal or family history of heart disease, take medication for a heart condition, have chronic pain due to a structural problem, injury or surgery. Be cautious –  Stop working out if you experience chest pain, an irregular heartbeat, dizziness, nausea, or shortness of breath.  Start out easy and gradually increase your fitness program.

Pick something you enjoy…

Try something new…

Add variety…

Make it fun!

For great tips on getting active, check out the American Heart Association’s TIps here:


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Can Having a Life Purpose Really Lead to a Longer Life?




For a tree to become tall…

it must grow tough roots among the rocks.” – Friedrich Nietzsche


“The purpose of life is a life of purpose.” —Robert Bryne

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” —George Bernard Shaw

Philosophers, scholars, progressive thinkers, writers and poets from Socrates onward have written eloquently about the benefits of living a life of purpose. Arecent study from Carlton University in Canada found that people who have a sense of purpose have greater longevity. The findings indicate that creating “a direction for life, and setting overarching goals for what you want to achieve can help you actually live longer, regardless of when you find your purpose.” The study examined data from more than 6,000 people, including their self-reported level of purpose in life, across a 14-year follow-up period.

Not surprisingly, a sense of purpose was found to also bring this benefit regardless of retirement status, a known mortality risk factor. Additionally, the benefits held up even after other indicators of well-being, such as positive relations and positive emotions, were taken into account.

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” —Mark Twain

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” —Friedrich Nietzsche

I often advise my patients to find something they are passionate about, as the French say, une raison d’être, a reason to get up every day. Some of my patients, especially those whom have experienced serious health challenges may stare back at me lost, confused and simply tired not knowing where to begin. I remind them that purpose is not the same as happiness; whereas happiness fluctuates with daily life events (i.e, sickness, a bad day at work, or car trouble), one’s unique life purpose is more of an underlying sense of soul fulfillment; a calm, often quiet feeling of doing the right thing that transcends life’s disappointments or successes. When we are living in accordance with our life’s purpose, we may encounter the ups and downs of happiness along the way but they don’t permanently distract us from our larger vision.

So how do you discover, if not create, your unique and authentic sense of purpose?

“Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” —Albert Einstein

  • Time Out – Take some well-deserved “me” time to discover a new hobby or interest you may be keeping on the back-burner. Ask yourself, what makes you feel alive?   Your purpose might be right in front of your eyes but you can’t see it because you aren’t looking inward. Your gut or your instincts might recognize a dormant, unfulfilled passion.


“Find out who you are and do it on purpose.” —Dolly Parton

  • Quiet the mind – In this technology driven and fast moving world, it’s difficult to shut off thoughts about that upcoming meeting, trip, or dinner plans, and focus on you. Write a list of your essential to do tasks then set it safely aside knowing that you can confidently take a temporary break without fear of forgetting something important. Meditation is a great way to tune in to yourself and listen to your inner guide.


“Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.” —Rumi

  • Pursue the Pull – If something tugs at your heart or keeps nagging at you until you take the plunge to begin to pursue it, don’t hesitate. Pursue it vigorously, with great intent, whether it’s something material or spiritual. Identify what you can do each day that brings you closer to the target. The feedback your actions give to your sense of well-being is your best guidance.


 “Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.”—Pema Chödrön

  • Make a Mistake, Learn from It – Your “successes” or “failures” over the years tell you where you’ve been in harmony with yourself — or not. Lessons from your good and bad life experiences may reveal: what you have been trying to express throughout your life, directly or indirectly; what longings you may have hidden; your inner vision; and the areas in which you have gone “off-track” from your true purpose.


“…don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. Most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.” —Steve Jobs

  • Create a Tangible Vision – Create a vision of what your emerging sense of purpose looks like. Imagine it’s a powerful magnet that’s pulling you along a path towards it. Trust how you feel not what your mind says.


“It is never too late to become what you might have been.” —George Elliot

Feeling that you have a sense of purpose in life may help you live longer, no matter what your age, according to new research. The research has clear implications for promoting positive aging and adult development. From first careers to retirement plans, you have all the time you need. 

For more information on the articles mentioned, please feel free to visit and


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Can I have this dance?

Dancing can be a hobby, an interest, or simply just the urge to move when that certain song comes on. Yet, what most people are unaware of is that it also has a large number of health benefits!

It can be a great workout for both the body and the mind. In addition, it can help with weight control, strengthening your body, increasing endurance and flexibility, and even improving balance!

From children to seniors, according to AARP, dancing can breathe new life into a tired soul; make a spirit soar; unleash locked-away creativity; unite generations and cultures; inspire new romances or rekindle old ones; trigger long-forgotten memories; and even turn sadness into joy.

WebMD agrees that whether it’s techno, salsa, ballroom, or Jazzercise, dance is great exercise for everyone. The beauty is that, for many people, dancing just doesn’t feel like exercise. It’s all about the joy of movement.

So the next time you are out for a night on the town, hanging out with friends, or even alone cooking dinner in the kitchen, turn up the volume and dance your way to a healthier heart and soul!

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The Many Faces of Stroke


May is #NationalStrokeMonth, and the National Stroke Association’s Faces of Stroke public awareness campaign is in full swing! Aiming to change the perceptions we have of stroke, education combined with personal stories are being shared across the nation. Friends, mothers, sons, uncles – stroke and diseases associated with it affect loved ones every day. This May, however, we’d like to join the #NationalStrokeAssociation in shining the spotlights on minorities.

Did you know that women, Hispanics and African-Americans have higher stroke risks? Check out these fast facts from the National Stroke Association:


  • Stroke kills twice as many women as breast cancer does every year.
  • Seven out of ten women are not aware they are more likely than men to have a stroke.
  • Women suffer greater disability after stroke than men.
  • 425,000 women suffer from a stroke each year—55,000 more than men.


  • African-Americans are twice as likely to die from stroke as their Caucasian counterparts are.
  • They are 40 percent more likely to have hypertension and 10 percent less likely to have it under control than their non-Hispanic Caucasian counterparts.
  • African-American stroke survivors are more likely to become disabled and have difficulty with activities of daily living

Hispanic Americans

  • Hispanics in the U.S. are more likely to suffer a stroke at a younger age than Caucasians are.
  • Stroke and heart disease account for one in four deaths among Hispanic men and one in three deaths among Hispanic women.
  • Hispanics are more likely to have a recurrent stroke than African-Americans or non-Hispanic Caucasians.

In addition to the National Stroke Association’s Faces of Stroke program, the American Heart Association’s #WorkingTogetherToEndStroke initiative seeks to educate the public that stroke, the number 3 killer of women and number 4 killer of men, is largely PREVENTABLE, TREATABLE AND BEATABLE.

Stroke is preventable – There are many guidelines and helpful information for preventing stroke in general, but for the first time guidelines have been developed for preventing stroke specifically in women. According to the AHA, “If you are a woman, you share many of the same risk factors for stroke with men, but your risk is also influenced by hormones, reproductive health, pregnancy, childbirth and other sex-related factors.”


Stroke is treatable–Act FAST. When you recognize a stroke and act fast by calling 9-1-1, you have a greater chance of survival and recovery. Remember the acronym F.A.S.T. (Face drooping, Arm Weakness, Speech Difficulty, Time to Call 911) to help you recognize symptoms and what to do. 

Stroke is beatable – ABC World News recently discussed a new study proving consuming fruit each day can decrease your risk for stroke. In a study of more than 760,000 participants, eating “200 grams of fruit a day”, which can equal out to two small apples, reduced the participant’s risk by almost a third! In addition, for every 200 grams of vegetables eaten each day, the risk of stroke can drop by 11%!  



Want to know what fruits and vegetables are in season now? Check out ErrolMd’s last post for great websites and recipe suggestions, and check out Simple Cooking With Heart, an AHA sponsored site that with simple, nutritious recipes and preparation videos so you won’t miss a step.


There are many ways we can fight back, from changes you can make to your lifestyle today to habits you adopt over time.

 “Together, we can end stroke.”

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