An angry letter to disease…

I am losing another friend to cancer…another dear friend and cancer is the culprit. I’m sick of it! I have stopped counting the losses, there have been so many, several just in this last year for me. I’m sick of it!! Yeah, I’m angry at you cancer, heart disease, diabetes, addiction…and I’m not gonna take it anymore! You have killed enough of my friends and I’m over it. If you are a friend of mine and you are behaving in a way that contributes to disease, I’m going to get in your face…that was fair warning. I am going to be that person who annoys the crap out of you, especially about those behaviors that do not serve you – you know, the ones that contribute to dis-ease rather than health.

YES, I’M TALKING TO YOU…

YOU, who are reading this right now, this is a message for you. Don’t stop reading, you know this was meant for you. I’m that uncomfortable feeling, here to once again get your attention, here to remind you to clean up your act. This is a personal message from me, and the universe, directly to you: Wake up to the lifestyle choices you are making that we both know contribute to things that shorten your life. Like Smoking. STOP IT. Just stop it. Don’t tell me, “I know, I know, I shouldn’t smoke,” and then go out and smoke another, NO. STOP IT RIGHT NOW.

I’m sick of it!!! We are all sick of it. I have watched too many people I love die of Cancer, COPD and other related illness because they wouldn’t go through the minor discomfort of quitting smoking. CANCER IS FAR MORE UNCOMFORTABLE! Trust me. I’ve seen it too many times. You don’t want to die that way, nor do you want to live with the treatment of it, either. YOU DON’T!

What’s behind it all…

As an addictionologist, I will tell you that addiction is the number one killer in America. Wait, isn’t heart disease the number one killer? According to the CDC it is. But what’s behind it? What causes heart disease? Addiction to the lifestyle choices that contribute to, or outright cause, heart disease. Addiction is the number one killer and heart disease is it’s first path of least resistance. Addiction in part is defined as: “continued use of any substance or behavior despite negative consequences”. The ultimate consequence being death.

BUT GOOD NEWS…

You can avoid that heart attack. Heart disease is completely preventable! You don’t catch it, you create it. If you can create it, you can prevent it. You can avoid future heart problems by adopting a healthy lifestyle right now! YES again, this means you! Don’t make me come over there!

Here are some heart disease prevention tips to get you started and to save you from my wrath.

Don’t smoke or use tobacco!

I think we covered that above, but it’s worth repeating. STOP IT!

Smoking or using tobacco is one of the most significant risk factors for developing heart disease and cancer there is. Chemicals in tobacco damage your heart and blood vessels, leading to narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis). Atherosclerosis leads to a heart attack. No amount of smoking is safe. And there is no safe exposure to secondhand smoke, either. Stop killing your friends and family too. STOP IT!

In addition, the nicotine in cigarette smoke makes your heart work harder by narrowing your blood vessels and increasing your heart rate and blood pressure. Carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke replaces some of the oxygen in your blood. This increases your blood pressure by forcing your heart to work harder to supply enough oxygen. Even “social smoking” while at a bar or restaurant is dangerous and increases the risk of heart disease and cancer. Addiction is far too often built into social norms, which is why we have come to accept heart disease and cancer as the top 2 killers in America. You don’t need a cig break, you need a break from cigarettes.

If you are smoking I am going to assume you are on fire and I will immediately put you out. I wonder how many buckets of ice cold water it would take to make you smoke free? Something to ponder…

The good news is that when you quit smoking, your risk of heart disease drops dramatically. And no matter how long or how much you smoked, you’ll start reaping rewards as soon as you quit. WHICH IS NOW!!!

Eat a Heart Healthy Diet of Plant Based Foods – the Health Benefits of Phytonutrients …

There are staggering mortality rates associated with serious health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer, the focus on prevention and nutrition has become more important than ever. All one has to do is read the last few months of my columns in the archive and follow the simple life changing advice to build a fortress of protection that dis-ease can’t penetrate.

Phytonutrients are the foot soldiers in that fight. Phytonutrients are the chemicals derived from plants and are very similar in composition to antioxidants. Phytonutrients come from plants that are suitable for human consumption. Though phytonutrients are not considered essential nutrients, science is discovering they provide health benefits that can help prevent the development of a myriad of conditions and diseases. Numerous studies have revealed that these plant chemicals actually protect tissues and cells from free radicals and their harmful effects. In essence, if you eat a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits, you will obtain the benefits of phytonutrients.

The best way to obtain the health benefits of phytonutrients is to go mostly raw, organic and colorful. That is, follow a diet that includes a significant amount of colorful fruits and vegetables. For example, Lycopene is a type of carotenoids that is prevalent in tomatoes, and is one such phytonutrient that has been recently been determined to produce health benefits. There is strong evidence that shows that it is beneficial for preventing the development of heart disease and other illnesses.

Other foods that contain significant levels of phytonutrients include garlic, beans, berries, and whole grains. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help protect your heart. Beans, other low-fat sources of protein can also reduce your risk of heart disease.

Limiting certain fats you eat is also important. Of the types of fat we consume — saturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and trans fat — saturated fat and trans fat increase the risk of coronary artery disease by raising blood cholesterol levels. You will find these in foods that are fast, cheap and easy and come in a box…get out of that box! Just because they call it food doesn’t mean you should eat it. Look on the label for the term “partially hydrogenated” to avoid trans fat.

Omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat, decrease your risk of heart attack, and lower blood pressure. Some fish, such as salmon are a good natural source of omega-3s – (but watch out for GMO salmon, which come with their own risks). Omega-3s are present in smaller amounts in flaxseed oil, walnut oil, soybean oil and canola oil, and they can also be found in supplements. ( supplements I recommend are a good omega, vitamins B & D3 – the rest of what you need will come from a healthy diet)

Heart-healthy eating isn’t just about cutting back on the crap, though. Most people need to add more fruits and vegetables to their diet, with a goal of five to 10 servings a day – or better yet, just make it your every meal. And this doesn’t mean on the side, this means as your main course. Eating fruits and vegetables can not only help prevent heart disease, but also help prevent cancer and every other dis-ease.

Clearing up another myth…

Following a heart-healthy diet also means avoiding drinking alcohol…there is no RDA for alcohol consumption. Contrary to popular belief, there is no beneficial alcohol consumption….yes including wine. If you want the benefits of grapes, eat grapes. If you are going to drink, keep it to a minimum. AND if you are an addict, a minimum means NONE!

Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day…

Getting some regular, daily exercise can reduce your risk of heart disease big time. And when you combine physical activity with other lifestyle measures, such as creating and maintaining a healthy weight, the benefits are even greater. Physical activity helps you control your weight and can reduce your chances of developing other conditions that may put a strain on your heart, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. It also reduces stress, which is known to be a factor in disease.

Try getting at least 30 to 60 minutes of moderately intense physical activity most days of the week. And remember that other activities such as gardening, housekeeping, taking the stairs and walking the dog, all count. You don’t have to exercise strenuously to achieve benefits, but you can see bigger benefits by increasing the intensity, duration and frequency of your workouts. Yoga is one of my favorites.

The importance of maintaining a healthy weight…

As you put on weight in adulthood, your weight gain is mostly fat, rather than muscle. This excess weight can lead to conditions that increase your chances of heart disease — high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Even a small weight loss can be beneficial. Reducing your weight by just 10 percent can decrease your blood pressure, lower your blood cholesterol level and reduce your risk of diabetes, which is also on the top ten list of the things that kill.

One of my favorite reads last year was Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Furhman. Within his book is a comprehensive look at the benefits of eating a plant-based diet. He also dispels the myth of other popular diets that don’t work. Far too often MD’s know little about nutrition. Not true for Dr. Furhman.

Well, there you have it. I guess I have ranted enough for a New Year. I am just so sick and tired of losing people I love to avoidable health issues. You know who you are. You know this was a message directly for you. Get off your butt and get moving toward a healthier life right now. Like any bad habit, 3 weeks from now you will have begun to rewire your brain to a new healthier habit. 3 weeks, folks! And after 90 days you own it! Three months to a new you…

Need help? That is why I am here. I help people create successful transformation in their lives by overcoming what seems insurmountable; you won’t overcome it on the couch. Get off your butt and get going. Reach out, you can speak to me for nothing and see if having a coach in your corner wouldn’t change everything.

YOU CAN DO IT…Don’t make me come over there!

You can. It was love that made me do it. It is love that drives my passion for health and wellness. It is love that will heal you. The love of yourself enough to make choices and decisions that not only benefit you, but everyone around you. Love is always the answer. – With love, JR

(J.R. Westen, D.D. is a Holistic Health & Spiritual Counselor who has worked and presented side-by-side with Neale Donald Walsch for over a decade. He is passionate about helping individuals move beyond their emotional and spiritual challenges, transforming breakdowns into breakthroughs. His coaching provides practical wisdom and guidance that can be immediately incorporated to shift one’s experience of life. As is true for most impactful teachers, J.R.’s own struggles and triumphs inspired him to find powerful ways of helping others. Sober since June 1, 1986, J.R.’s passion for helping individuals move through intense life challenges drove him to also specialize in Addiction and Grief Recovery. J.R. currently shares his gift of counseling & coaching with individuals from around the world through the Wellness Center, Simply Vibrant, located on Long Island N.Y.  In addition, he operates “Change House” a place where people come to transform, he also works with Escondido Sobering Services and serves on the Board of Directors for the Conversations with God Foundation. He can be contacted at JR@theglobalconversation.com, or to book an appointment, write support@simplyvibrant.com.)

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  • doug

    hi JR,
    I liked this article, I think sometimes people need this level of ‘anger’ to get them to see sense. I hope many others see it and are prompted to take your advice.

    Loved the line about “If you are smoking I will assume you are on fire…” Wish I had thought of that!

    Best wishes from Doug.

  • Jules

    Thank you. I agree that we need to love ourselves enough to take better care of ourselves. We are given these bodies to carry us around and we neglect them and abuse them and wonder why we get sick. Sad. Truely though death comes to us all. Anyone born will die. That is the way life is. The best we can do for ourselves is to recognize how precious our time here is and to make the best of it. When we eat and move for health and stop the abuses to ourselves we are more receptive to giving and receiving the love we are meant to have.