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Please.

February 5, 2009 

Over the last year, and particularly over the last few weeks and months, I have lost and almost lost an unfathomable number of family, friends, and family of friends.  Many of these people were in their 30's and 40's, and it just makes me want to reiterate over and over the following:

Please, please, please be proactive about your health.

Get regular checkups.

See the dentist every 6 months and brush and floss regularly (gum disease can lead to heart disease).

If you have a history of disease in your family, please take proper precautions (checkups, tests, and so on) to ensure that you don't manifest that disease.

Eat a healthy diet consisting mostly of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes. Cut down on excessive meat intake, fried foods, sodas, and the like.

Get regular exercise. Just 30 minutes a day is enough, and you don't have to do it all at once. Take walks. Climb escalators. Park a little farther away. Go dancing. Play frisbee. Just do something active.

If you smoke, stop.

If you drink and drive (and you know who you are), for the love of God, stop.

Find a way to manage stress, whether that means exercising (one of the best anti-stress and anti-depression medications out there), meditating, getting acupuncture, getting therapy, or whatever works best for you. Make some "you" time every day. Stress is a root of many of today's diseases and shouldn't be taken lightly.

Use OTC medications very, very sparingly and only when absolutely necessary. Read the side effects. Decide if it's worth risking your liver, stomach, kidneys, etc.

And finally, appreciate your life and everyone in it to the fullest. Life and good friends and family really are amazing gifts, and sometimes it takes tremendous tragedy to see that.