Marilynn Preston advocates a healthy, low-stress lifestyle
Published: Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, October 31, 2011 at 2:11 p.m.
We all have our excuses for not exercising.
What: Questions for Dr. Jock — an online live chat with Marilynn Preston
When: 10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Wednesday
Where: Go to gainesville.com/drjock.
"It's hot (or cold)."
"I'm too busy (or too tired)."
"I'm hungry (or I just ate)."
Marilynn Preston, whose nationally syndicated column appears here every Tuesday, has heard most all of them. Her response, delivered with a dose of humor in her weekly columns, is simple.
"[A healthier lifestyle] takes effort, responsibility and patience, but the payoff is amazing."
Preston, known as Dr. Jock to readers of The Star Banner and The Gainesville Sun, is a fitness expert, personal trainer and speaker on healthy lifestyle issues. And on Wednesday, she'll be taking reader questions for a live online chat scheduled from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.
The online Q-and-A gives readers a chance to direct their questions on fitness, diet and general health to Preston, whose column, called "Energy Express," is geared toward people who want to incorporate exercise and cleaner, smarter eating habits in their lives or who need an encouraging word to stay on their fitness or eating routines.
"I don't write to the high-performing triathlete, or those who run the 4-minute mile.
"What I convey is that it is possible to live a healthier, happier lifestyle, with fewer chronic diseases and greater joy. But it's up to you to get on that path and stay there," said Preston. "You can't depend on our broken medical system or a personal trainer."
Preston was a feature writer at The Chicago Tribune in 1976 when she started writing her column, which is now the longest-running syndicated fitness column in the country.
"There weren't columns in the paper about fitness [at the time]," said Preston. "I was just turning 30 and thought if I had questions, so would others."
Through her columns, Preston coaches, guides and motivates readers, and often provides information gleaned from current studies on health issues and the state of U.S. health care.
Her readers span all ages, but Baby Boomers, in particular, find an ally in her columns.
"The older we get, the greater and more interest we have [in health issues]," said Preston, 65. "For the person 50 or over who stays active, the quality of their life is enormously improved. If they don't, it's not a pretty picture."
People who manage to stay active are not only happier, they have more control over disease, especially chronic diseases, she said.
"Eighty percent of chronic diseases are due to an unhealthy lifestyle: we weigh too much, don't exercise, don't get enough sleep and don't have a strategy for dealing with stress in [our] life," she said. "We have to be proactive or we slip into the obesity rate."
In a recent column, Preston touched on a Columbia University report that found that, if trends continue as they are, 50 percent of all adults will be obese by 2030.
But Preston said she doesn't believe in dwelling on frightening statistics or shaming people toward healthier choices. People have to make the choice to change for themselves, not because their significant others want them to. And change isn't linear, she said. We take a couple of steps forward and fall back but should remain committed to a healthier lifestyle.
"We intellectually know what to do. The calorie count at the Cinnabon stares people in the face," she said.
A favorite mantra in her columns is "start where you are." Love the body you have and start from a place of acceptance and confidence.
Her advice includes learning to cook or at least learning to assemble meals from real foods. And sit down to eat, away from the television or computer screen.
Eat real food — fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains — get some physical activity, and stay away from diet foods that often include artificial sugars and other processed ingredients that confuse the body.
"I'm a shameless promoter of yoga, but find an activity you enjoy...and do 10 minutes of it three times a day," said Preston. "It's so important to have a strategy to deal with stress."
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