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How life would change for eating well, exercising
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Ever question the sanity of people who run? Yeah? Well, you're probably not going to like what I have to say.

Those "fools" who are running are healthier than the average scoffer.

I confess I hated running when I started but now look forward to it. Of course, running became much more enjoyable when I got an iPod six years ago. Nothing like running to a song with a fast beat.

I am literally running for life.

About 13 years ago I'd walk from the Courier office on Fourth Street to the Shell station a half-block away to get my shot of caffeine in a Diet Pepsi and notice the arteries in my neck thumping away with each beat of my heart. I rarely saw a doctor in those days - never got a check-up - and would only see one after getting sick, which happened often. I was 36 years old, and knew that the thumping in my neck was not right. I also suffered from cold hands in the office.

Perhaps it was God or that still small voice that said, "hey, dummy who sits in the chair all day long - maybe you need to exercise. And lay off the greasy fast-food burgers and fries."

Turns out a very thorough doctor in Ceres ordered blood work on me years later and found that while I may be slender, inside I was a fat man. My cholesterol was too high and my arteries being were restricted. He told me exercise helps but that I needed to watch what I was eating. I turned to healthier foods. My blood work has improved.

In 1999 I decided to run. On my first trot around the block I'd thought I'd die before hitting the third block. Panting hard, I called it off. A few days later I decided that I needed to push myself. I went farther with each try. I stuck it out even though it was hard.

Three years later I was doing more ambitious things, like hiking to the summit of Half Dome at 8,822 feet. That's a 12-hour event, covering 8.2 miles up over 4,000 feet and 8.2 miles back down. And I get this really twisted notion each April to run this 10-mile thing. That's close to a half marathon, (which by the way I have signed up for the Giants run in San Francisco on Aug. 27.)

I'm now running every other day. I've run about 2,623 miles on the low side, 3,498 miles on the high, most all of them outdoor miles. No matter how cold or hot, it's shorts and T-shirt for me. My dad thought I was nuts in December when I left his house in Kingman, Ariz., - elevation 3,300 feet - to go out running in 23 degrees, wearing shorts, not sweatpants. I explained that it never seems cold after you run in the cold.

I'm rarely sick and feel better at 49 than at 39. And I usually manage to resist the colds and flu going around the office and home.

Please don't construe what I'm saying as bragging. And I'm not sharing this as one who has "arrived." Just know that exercising doesn't always come easy for me. I tell myself there is no option to quit my regimen. I have to do it if I want to live a quality life.

But this I know: I see few people out there exercising. I also see a lot of pathetically unhealthy and obese people, especially in their 40s and 50s. And I also see a lot of people popping pills to cure ailments which they suffer have because they aren't eating well nor exercising.

I'm convinced that the way we treat our bodies determines the quality of our appearance and life. Make no mistake, it takes effort and making right choices. But it's not so difficult you cannot do it. It is about choice.

Modern medicine has seen a lot of changes in recent years, but there's still too much focus on dealing with specific physical ailments rather than preventing them. Think about how Ceres could change. Many people suffer from poor self-esteem because of body image. I know Ceres Fire has a high call volume and the majority are medical emergency calls. Modesto emergency rooms are clogged with people seeking primary care. Truth is, if we all took better care, most illnesses and ailments would disappear. Cancers would be prevented.

For sure, there's more to health than eating right and exercising. Mental stress is a factor for concern. But again, exercise can help alleviate stress.

I am not one who has arrived but I have learned hard work equals a payoff. I was already thinking these things and last week I was made aware of an article, "Five Optimal Health Secrets" drawn from Teal Scott's book, "The Sculptor in the Sky." She suggests we need to do five things:

1). Change your thoughts. The mind can and does affect the body. Why do you think the word, "disease" is made by combining two words, "dis - ease"? Negative thoughts and stress can make us sick and even kill us. We do have control over negative thoughts if we practice. Things that tend to grab our attention are things we do not like about our lives, or the negative thoughts, while the positive things about our lives go unnoticed. Change your thinking to one of optimism and gratitude. Consciously looking for things to enjoy and appreciate. Be thankful.

2). Stop believing all the gloomy news. You'd be surprised how many Californians were worked into a frenzy asking for iodine pills convinced they were doomed from Japanese nuclear power plant radiation. My friend the other day was watching too much on Japan's disaster and declared, "Japan is toast." I don't believe that for one second, after all they rose above the annihilation of Hiroshima and Nagaski by two U.S. atomic bombs. Honestly, TV news in particular tends to blow everything out of proportion. Negativity sells. We often think that it is important to pay attention to "reality" and what is going on in the world, but the extreme and negative things that are going on are not all that exists in our world. Positive things go on every day.

3). Eat right. Eat whole foods, fresh vegetables and fresh fruits. Eat less processed foods, and get help to slowly overcome your attachments to sugar, alcohol, caffeine and other "junk" foods.

4). Exercise (covered this alread). Find something you like to do. Search for an activity that incorporates exercise which raises your heart rate for at least 30 minutes.

5). Put out into the world what you want to get back. The basic concept here is that we can change the world around us by how we act. The minute we change the way we think and act, the world outside of us will also change. For example, random acts of kindness. Opening a door for someone can have a feel-good attitude.

I was feeling aggravated that a foreclosed house on my block had waist-high grass, bemoaning the sloven financial institution who owned it and who was bringing down the neighborhood. Two Fridays ago after work I charged over there with my lawnmower and got to work. Minutes later another neighbor joined in with his Weed Wacker. We both left feeling good that the neighborhood looked nicer.

According to Scott, "you will begin to notice very quickly that you are being treated the same way you are treating others and there is nothing quite like a supportive environment to help you achieve your optimum health."

How do you feel? Let Jeff by e-mailing him at