Live an awesome life. Listen to your body and act on warning signs.
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By Andrea Holwegner, For The Calgary Herald  February 10, 2011

A year and a half ago I watched the hospital staff wheel my dad through the big grey doors of the cardiovascular unit for open heart surgery. I was unsure if I would see him again to celebrate future birthdays or other milestones – and this feeling was a familiar one for me.

My dad came from a family that started the morning off by floating oatmeal in a puddle of rich cream and mopping up leftover bacon fat with toast. As a little boy in a small town he made daily visits to the local store for a pop and chocolate bar. His lifestyle habits for many years took their toll.

Combine this with a genetic predisposition to heart disease and it was the perfect storm for illness in his 40s.

For the last 15 years my dad has been through several surgeries and lived a life on hold. He has been heavily medicated in a state of health that prevented him from living life to the fullest.

As the son of a mechanic my dad was a handy man to the core despite having a desk job as a banker. His spare time was spent in the garage fixing just about anything.

But that changed as I watched my dad’s skin colour move from healthy pink to ashen grey. I worried about his shortness of breath. I became anxious that changing a light bulb or other tasks that required his hands to be above his head caused the sweat to pour off his face. Garage tasks that required strength or lifting became hard.

It was difficult to see my dad’s energy slide, coupled with the regular angina or heart pains he was feeling.

The open heart surgery 18 months ago was life changing for my dad, but also for me.

Recently, I had the opportunity to ski with my dad for the first time in more than 20 years. As I stood at the top of the ski resort I snapped a treasured picture of us. Later, I smiled as my dad spoke about how amazed he was that he made it through the whole day without his legs giving out.

When we returned home to the cabin my parents had finished with their bare hands, and where he was finally able to enjoy through retirement, I felt a sense of pride.

When we asked my dad recently what he wanted for his birthday he requested hockey sticks. He and a neighbour at the cabin have been shovelling off snow on the local pond for ice skating. Years ago shovelling snow was out of the question, let alone hockey. It seems my dad is now unstoppable.

Take advantage of second chances

Maybe you can relate to my dad and have been given the gift of a second chance for better health. What are you going to do to keep it that way?

Realize that second chances also come in the form of listening to what your body is really telling you. If you feel like your body doesn’t have the energy, vitality or health you know it deserves, don’t wait for something drastic to happen to force you to change.

Far too often the first time people decide to make changes to their nutrition and lifestyle is in response to a negative event such as a heart attack. Take this opportunity as the kick in the butt you need to take charge of your health now before it is too late.

There is no time for excuses

My friend Joe, an avid camping, barbecue party and outdoor concert lover often talks about the fact that you only have 78 summers, so you better live it up.

He is referring to the fact that the life expectancy at birth according to Statistics Canada (for the period between 2005 and 2007) is 78 for males. (Females have a few more summers to enjoy with a life expectancy of 83). I like Joe’s reminder that we only have a limited number of years.

My challenge to you is to take a good hard look at the lifestyle habits you have right now. Envision the life you want and the physical health you need to do it.

Are you making the most of it?

As the old saying goes -if you don’t take care of your body, where are you going to live?

Andrea Holwegner, “The Chocoholic Dietitian,” Owns Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. Visitwww.Healthstandnutrition.Com  Or Phone 403-262-3466  For Information And To Subscribe To A Blog Or Free Monthly Ezine.

Read more:http://www.calgaryherald.com/health/Live+awesome+life/4256214/story.html#ixzz1E60hb9fC

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"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
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“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
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Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
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Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

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I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
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Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Excellent teaching and motivation. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
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