Diet and exercise-a phrase we hear oh so often, conjures up different thoughts for each person who hears it. Uuggh. Grrrr. Yikes. Noooooo As I rapidly approach the age of 47, just three short years from 50, diet and exercise surely doesn’t have the same message now as it did say 10 or even just 5 years ago. Diet and exercise: it’s important. We know it. We try. Sometimes. But, I enjoy eating… I come from an upbringing where food means love. I don’t have time. I work too much. It costs too much to belong to a gym. Healthy food is expensive. All of these comments, may play a factor. They don’t have to. To be sure we are clear, diet doesn’t mean what it used to in bygone years. We used to often hear people begrudgingly remark, “I’m on a diet.” Thankfully we have been educated that diets don’t work, so when we use “diet” we are referring to what your overall meals consist of. Is your diet rich in fruits and vegetables? Sugary snacks? Salty snacks? A healthy balance of what you should be eating with some splurges here and there? Splurges are surely part of my plan. And, exercise! Does the word conjure up bad memories of futile attempts in a gym or skinny ladies with few clothes on a treadmill? Exercise is ensuring your body is strong enough to serve you so that you can pick up those grocery bags, run after your kids or grandkids, enjoy gardening, or traveling. Sure, if you want to train for a marathon or workout with a personal trainer, those work too. But, you have to get moving. Follow the American Heart Association guidelines for activity if you need a starting point. You have to do something.We all know of people, healthy people who always eat nutritious meals and exercise religiously who fall ill. No doubt. We can all name a few. Yet how can we take little care of ourselves then ask for mountains to be moved should we fall ill with a serious illness? I wonder if the doctors ever think, “You punished yourself for 25 years, and now I’m to cure you in a day?” As family people, loving caregivers, we put others in front of our own needs. We were born to love. My kid’s needs come before mine. My husband’s…. my aging parent’s… This is less about looking great on the outside (though that’s a perk) and MORE about taking care of yourself on the inside. It’s less about fitting into that great dress or pair of jeans and more about being strong and healthy enough to be an active participant in staying well. For you to be there, at your best, don’t your loved ones deserve you at your best? You must take care of your health first, foremost; then you can be ready to care for others. There’s no one-size fits all approach. I don’t know your schedule and how you can fit exercise and nutritious eating into your routine. I just know that it’s never been more important. To be clear, we need splurges too. Holidays, weekends, and celebrations surely call for some of your favorite and perhaps not so healthy treats. All in moderation! We just can’t ignore our bodies for years then ask for a quick fix treatment to a potential life-threatening illness. Take care of you. Start with small changes. Your life depends on it. And so many others depend on you.