Life is a precious gift.  None of us knows long our gift will last, so it’s important to make the most of every day.  That means doing everything you can to stay healthy by eating well and exercising regularly.  A lot of folks will say – I’m stuck with my health because of my genes, or my doctor can’t do anything to help me.   The truth is, half your health depends upon your choices.  Only 20 percent of health is hereditary, 20 percent comes from your environment, and 10 percent is dependent on your doctor.  The bottom line – your health is largely in your own hands. 

Meet Matt Gainey. Matt works at the Department of Health Services.  About 3 years ago, he was tired of how he felt and looked.  He started walking at lunch, added more fruits and vegetables to his diet.  He didn’t notice a change immediately, but he kept going.  He wanted to feel better. 

As his energy increased, Matt added more to his routine – sit ups at night. He cut out soda and reduced the processed food he ate, like cookies and chips.  He started paying attention to what he ate, what he did and what he weighed – things he’d never really noticed before, even though diabetes and heart disease run in his family. 

Pretty soon Matt was taking longer walks – he changed from walking to running. He added push-ups and free weights to his evening activities.  Even when it’s hot, I see Matt running wind sprints on top of the parking garage. 

The changes paid off; Matt lost 160 pounds.  He has more energy and sleeps better.  Of course, he did have to buy new pants – the old ones were 9 sizes too big! 

As you can see with Matt’s story – you can change your bad habits.  It doesn’t take a miracle or a fortune – and you don’t have to do it alone. 

If you want to change your diet and activities, can help you choose healthier foods. For example, switching to whole grain foods and adding fruits and vegetables will increase your fiber, give you more vitamins and let you eat less to feel full.  

For ideas to helping you increase activity and for healthy recipes on the website go to You can even have them emailed to you each week. helps you decide the right balance of foods to eat. 

There’s a worksite wellness website (, if you want to corral your coworkers into getting healthy in 2012. 

The Arizona Smokers’ Helpline will help you stop smoking.  Online ( or by phone (800-55-66-222), ASHLine provides medication, tips and coaching to help you get through the urges – all for free.  There’s also an iPhone and Facebook app. 

So when you wake up tomorrow in the New Year – know that you have the power to make a change.  You have the power to choose how healthy you will be for the rest of your life.  Go for it!