Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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It's already February and my plans to eat better and exercise in the New Year are still sitting on a "To Do" list. Yes, I know, this happens to lots of people, but that doesn't make me feel any better.


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You and your lists. Things like lose weight, exercise, eat healthy are too vague to put on a list. If you were a smoker, would you put "Stop Smoking" on a list?


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OK, poor choice of words. They're not really on a written list, they're just goals I set for myself.


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That is even worse. Do you expect you will magically do it without any daily reminders – or interim target goals? And, what is your motivation?


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Thanks. That makes me feel even worse.


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Get over it. You cannot change the past. But, February is a perfect time to start again.


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February is too much like January – cooler weather that lends itself to comfort food and just wanting to nest. Plus, it gets dark early.


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Those are just excuses. February is perfect because it is American Heart Month. And, heart disease is the leading cause of death – for both men and women.


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That's definitely a good reason. The irony is that I know what to do. I just can't seem to find the motivation to keep it going for more than a few days. But when it comes to eating well and exercising, nothing seems to deter you.


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That is because every morning, I walk into a large closet filled with size 2 clothing.


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That's funny.


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Funny or not, it is the truth. I have always been a clothes horse. Now, decades later, I have a significant investment hanging in my closet. And, since almost everything is timeless and classic, I would be extremely annoyed if it no longer fit.


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Well, even if it's something us "mere mortals" can't relate to, at least it keeps you motivated. I just don't have anything like that in my life.


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Really?! I can name two things.


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Well, I'm not sure Natasha and Sawyer would want to be referred to as "things", but I see your point. I think I did a better job staying fit when they were younger and truly needed me every day. Plus, when I was cooking for them, I was more focused on healthy eating. Now that they're older, they don't need me as much.


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That sounds like more excuses. They may no longer need you as cook and chauffeur, but they need your life experience and unconditional love as they struggle with the challenges of young adulthood.


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Ok, I don't know whether to start feeling guilty right now or sad because I'm not taking good enough care of myself to be there for them. And hopefully for a long time to come.


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The third option is to stop being so dramatic, and just start taking better care of yourself. Although Jewish guilt is often an excellent motivator, that was not my intention.


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Thanks for reminding me that taking care of myself is NOT selfish, because it's about more than me.


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Do you remember the airplane and oxygen mask analogy?


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Oh, yes. It was one of your trick questions. You asked me if I was on a plane with the girls and we lost altitude, causing the oxygen masks to drop, would I first put the mask on myself or the girls. I answered the girls, of course. You then pointed out that if I didn't take care of myself first, I wouldn't be in a position to help them.


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So, if you remembered that, why have you not been taking better care of yourself?


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Easy. Because day-to- day living keeps distracting me. At least I'm good with having all my annual exams done because a reminder pops up on my computer. And before you ask, yes, that includes having my blood pressure and cholesterol checked.


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Good, because getting "your numbers" is an important first step in diagnosing heart disease. But, is it critical to realize that since it is the #1 killer of men and women, we are all at risk. You always think it will happen to someone else.


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Well, let me break the news to you, that's just human nature. Plus, most people aren't into numbers like you are. But now that I think about it, given our family history, we may be more at risk than other people.


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How many more reasons do you need to start eating healthier and exercising more?How about the financial Implications? The cost of medical care if you get sick. What if you have a stroke and need long-term care?


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Just the thought of that makes me sick.


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Cute, but the good news is that you can always be a burden on your children; whereas since I live alone, if something happens to me, I will have to hire someone to help me.


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I'll ignore the "burden" comment, but I hope you know that I'm always here for you.


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I appreciate that. But, between my stubbornness and independence, not to mention, my closest full of clothes, I rather do everything possible to avoid that scenario. That includes being aware of warning symptoms and going to the doctor sooner versus later.


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Says the woman who can afford to have a stress test and other diagnostic tests done when there weren't even any symptoms.


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I wanted a baseline for future comparisons. And, peace of mind that there were no "silent symptoms".


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As a mom, I'm more inclined to take a "do what I say, not what I do" approach. I've always taken the girls to the doctors when something was wrong, but not myself. Let's face it, most of the time stuff goes away, so I'm not going to start running to the doctor for every little thing.


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I am merely saying that you cannot be an ostrich with your head in the sand when it comes to your health. Ignoring symptoms does not make them go away. Not taking care of yourself can have serious implications. But, it is up to you what you do … you can make smart decisions now or regret it later.


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Well, that's brutally honest.


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Yes, it is. Would this work better? … Since people associate the heart with love, take care of your heart because then you are also taking care of those you love.


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Ok, you being warm and fuzzy is a bit alarming. But it has motivated me to go for a walk and think about how I'm going to not only begin, but maintain, my "new and improved" lifestyle.


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Mission accomplished.


Want to read other columns? Here's a list.

Photo by nycshooter on iStock


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This past weekend, I noticed a bunch of flags on my street and wondered why since July 4th is still almost a month away. But this morning, I learned that today's Flag Day.


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Well, for someone who likes to decorate for the holidays, I would have thought you would have known all about it.


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I've heard of it, but I never really thought much about it, let alone when it is. I knew it had to do with the American flag, but it surprised me that it has nothing to do with Betsy Ross, which legend has made the first flag, although it seems there's no evidence to support that.


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If you want an interesting "story", read about why the American flag is called Old Glory. Regardless, the American flag, like all flags, communicates a message.


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I know you like to connect odd dots, but only you would see a connection between flags and communications.
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Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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I can't believe that Sawyer's graduated from high school and will be off to college in a few months. It's so bittersweet. Especially as it seems like only yesterday you were bringing me dinner in the hospital the day she was born – it was wedding soup from my favorite Italian restaurant.


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Well, since that has now become one of her favorite restaurants, that is where we should go to celebrate the start of her exciting new journey.


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Exciting is an understatement. As soon as she finished her Zoom session with the orientation team at Belmont University, she came downstairs and talked a mile a minute about all the incredible course offerings, and before I knew it, she opened her laptop and was going through everything with me.


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When she showed it to me, I was impressed by the range of courses available, and it made me want to go back to college. But, I was most impressed by her enthusiasm and commitment to opening herself up to opportunities that she might not have previously considered.


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I know! For years, starting when we taught at KIPP Houston High School, you've told students that college was a step-along-the-way, not a destination. And the perfect opportunity to try new things.


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I also said, "Homework never ends; it just is called 'research' when you get older."
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