Adventures in YouTube Land


Well, folks…the day has finally come. I’ve teamed up with the gym that I manage to create workout videos! It’s something that people have been asking about for a while so when my boss suggested it…I ran with the idea. As great of an opportunity as it is, the venture itself into videoland hasn’t been all roses & sunshine.

I love taking pictures and posing for them. Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve had a camera in my hand basically everyday since I was 5 or 6 years old…and I was a ham for the camera long before then. BUT there’s a very big difference between a still photo and a video. That may seem like an obvious statement but let me elaborate.

Despite being heavy on and off my entire life, I still loved taking pictures. I learned how to pose to avoid double chins and look as small as possible. Let’s just say Tyra (and ANTM) taught me very well. I also love taking pictures and capturing memories of pretty much everything and everyone I’m around. It’s always been a big hobby of mine. This new venture…on the internet no less…is an entirely different animal.

I try to be honest about my struggles and this video business has definitely been one. Mentally, that is. Every week we film and as I sit down to edit…I cringe. I love being in front of a camera but when I watch the action shots back, I die a little. I work very hard to be where I am. So when I see rolls on my stomach or a double chin or some sort of flashbacks to fatness staring back at me…it’s like none of that hard work matters. Now, the rolls and whatnot are likely due to my bad posture and discomfort shooting in front of certain people…but it’s still really hard to watch. When you are in a video, you can’t pose. You’re doing some sort of motion, in this case exercising. It’s great when it’s just you talking – you can stand a certain way, get a good angle….but when you are moving around it’s about the action not so much how you look. When I shoot my talking pieces, I have someone behind the camera who I’m very comfortable with and who seemingly calms my nerves, while helping me sort out what to say. It adds more work and more time to the project but it definitely turns out much better this way.

I’m no fitness model. I work really hard to maintain my size 2/4 and keep my weight in the 130s. I found balance with food, where I can enjoy beer & various treat meals without a ton of guilt afterwards. However, I still struggle with body image issues. I have loose skin and suffer from mystery stomach problems…which together can sometimes mean my body doesn’t look like it should. Still, I manage to push all of these internal conflicts aside and I post my videos weekly anyway. I’m not perfect but I know my story is one that many people can relate to…and hopefully my workouts can help someone get started on their journey…just like certain videos helped me. The people watching likely aren’t nitpicking like I am. They are watching the workout and seeing a girl who has struggled her entire life DO IT. So while I may nitpick over some stomach rolls or weird faces., I find comfort in knowing that there may be a girl out there just like me who will watch my video and get motivated to jumpstart their own journey.

I may still struggle mentally…especially with this nagging shoulder rehab…but deep down I know that I’m not the same 210lb girl I used to be. Mentally or physically. While I can’t do many of the things that I want to do or that I used to do, I’m learning to adapt. The old Gina would’ve given up the minute she got hurt…and probably gained all of the weight back. This Gina has finally figured it out. It’s not easy. Every single day is a struggle but I try my best to put one foot in front of the other to keep going. I’m not the girl I used to be – and I’m so much better for it.

If you want to check out my Fight to be Fit video playlist, you can find it here. I welcome any & all feedback!

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

-Gina

Summer Shred – COMPLETE!

…and thus concludes my 6-week summer shred!

April 2017 >> Now

It wasn’t perfect by any means. Despite a serious lack of cardio along with Cinco de Mayo & birthday shenanigans, I managed to see really good results.

Summer Shred, Day 1 (April 2017)

Current look!

My plan is to continue this “shred” throughout the summer, while incorporating some treats along the way. I wanted to make this realistic this go-around. Last time, I was doing 2-a-day workouts and eating 1,200 calories a day…which consisted mostly of tilapia, egg whites, and a lot of boring foods. I was miserable by the end and the binge that followed reflected that. This time, I restricted my sweets and lessened my carbs…but that was it. No crazy strict diet was necessary. I lost the weight that I gained post-surgery and regained a lot of my muscle back. I also got much leaner, losing over 10% body fat in just 6 weeks time! Keeping my diet in check really helped make up for my inconsistent workouts. While the workouts weren’t what I initially planned, I did as much as life would allow. Life doesn’t always go the way that we plan so it’s important to always have a back-up plan in motion.

I say it all the time but the key to losing weight…and keeping it off…is making it work for YOU. You can follow a strict diet & do crazy workouts but at the end of the day if it doesn’t work for your lifestyle or body, it will not stick! Trust me. I’ve done it all. I went from an overweight adolescent, to disordered eating in high school and college, to very heavy throughout most of my 20s…and now here we are. It’s still a struggle every single day. This never gets easier – and anyone who says it does is lying. However, your will power becomes stronger. The food noise – that guilt you feel after having a drink or fattening food/sweet – gets quieter. You start seeing results. You do what it takes to never get back to that unhappy place. You eventually decide you never want to look or feel like that again. No slip-ups, injuries, health issues, or life mishaps interfere. One day it all clicks and you gain freedom (&a confidence) in your own skin.

Before my Shred (2/2017) >>Now 

I will continue to post about my modified shred diet & workout regimen in the coming weeks. I’m also currently working together with my gym to create beginner workout videos that anyone can do anywhere! Look out for those gems coming to YouTube soon! Stick with me and I will help get you on the path to being confident in your own skin. It won’t be easy…but I promise it WILL be worth it.

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

-Gina

Living with IBS

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, is one of the most common health concerns facing Americans today yet it’s one of the least discussed. Many people who have this condition suffer in silence due to it being somewhat of a “taboo” subject or just for not knowing that there is an actual problem.

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The walls of the intestines are lined with layers of muscle that contract and relax in a coordinated rhythm as they move food from your stomach through your intestinal tract to your rectum. If you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, the contractions may be stronger and last longer than normal which will cause gas, bloating, and/or diarrhea. The opposite can also occur with weak intestinal contractions, slowing food passage and leading to hard, dry stools. Abnormalities in your gastrointestinal nervous system also may play a role, causing you to experience greater than normal discomfort when your abdomen stretches from gas or stool. Poorly coordinated signals between the brain and the intestines can make your body overreact to the changes that normally occur in the digestive process. This overreaction can cause pain, diarrhea or constipation.

As many as 1 in 5 American adults experience signs and/or symptoms of IBS. There are two common forms of IBS – IBS-C, with constipation, and IBS-D, with diarrhea. It is unknown what causes IBS but there are many factors, including family history, which are considered to be a trigger for those suffering with this illness.

One of the biggest triggers for IBS is a person’s diet. Many people have more severe symptoms when they eat certain things. Some doctors will recommend doing an elimination diet to pinpoint what the exact trigger food(s) could be. Some other recommendations include: eliminating high-gas foods such as carbonated beverages, vegetables (especially cabbage, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and cauliflower) and raw fruits, eliminating gluten (wheat, barley, and rye) or avoiding refined (not whole) grains, eliminating FODMAPs, avoiding high protein diets, limiting or eliminating caffeine (such as coffee), and experimenting with fiber intake. A person suffering with IBS should eat smaller meals and drink plenty of liquids, especially water! It’s also important to note that a person with this illness should be careful with their dairy intake, regardless if they are lactose intolerant or not.

Another common trigger for IBS sufferers is stress. Many people find that their symptoms are worsened or brought on during periods of increased stress. While stress certainly will aggravate your symptoms, there has not been any research found to cause them.

Women, especially under the age of 45, are twice as likely to develop IBS. Researchers believe that this is due to hormonal changes. Many women find that their symptoms are more prevalent during or around their menstrual cycle. IBS worsens as hormone levels fall. As hormone levels fall to the lowest point during menstruation, symptoms such as stomach pain, discomfort, and constipation or diarrhea become more common and intense. What’s worse, those who suffer from painful periods, are twice as likely to have an increase in symptoms.

Even though the signs and symptoms are uncomfortable IBS, unlike ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease (which are forms of inflammatory bowel disease), doesn’t cause changes in bowel tissue or increase your risk for colorectal cancer. Some symptoms that may indicate a more serious condition include rectal bleeding, abdominal pain that progresses or occurs at night, and/or weight loss.

While there is no cure for IBS, there are certain things that have been proven to alleviate some of the symptoms. One easy remedy is to exercise regularly. Incorporating regular exercise into your routine will not only help you to look & feel better about yourself, it will also help to stimulate normal contractions in your intestines. If you’ve been inactive, start slowly and gradually increase the amount of time you exercise. If you have other medical problems, check with your doctor before starting an exercise program. Another form of therapy, while non-traditional, is the use of herbs such as peppermint. Peppermint is a natural antispasmodic that relaxes smooth muscles in the intestines. It’s important to note that while it may ease your IBS symptoms, peppermint may increase heartburn. Before taking any herbs, check with your doctor to be sure they won’t interact or interfere with other medications. Probiotics are “good” bacteria that normally live in your intestines and are found in certain foods, such as yogurt and in dietary supplements. It’s been suggested that if you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, you may not have enough good bacteria so by adding probiotics to your diet, you may ease your symptoms.

IBS can be a long-lasting problem that can impact how you live your life. Many people with IBS miss work or school more often and they may feel less comfortable taking part in daily activities. If you feel that you may have IBS, contact your doctor for further testing.

**This article was originally published with The Arena – all references for the information given above can be found on that site.

 

Summer Shred – Fighting to be Fit….Through the Chaos

What a week! The second week of my Summer Shred definitely didn’t go as I intended…but it wasn’t all lost. I stuck to my meal plan and my macros were almost perfect everyday. I lost a pound despite not working out as hard as I wanted to and I’m noticing my waist get smaller and smaller everyday!

While a stressful, busy work week kept me away from my own workouts most days…my diet was great. Here’s how the last few days looked:

Breakfast:

  • Wednesday, 4/26: 2 eggs with a sprinkle of cheese & caramel latte protein coffee
  • Thursday, 4/27: rice cake with tsp of PB & caramel latte protein coffee
  • Friday, 4/28: rice cake with tsp of PB & caramel latte protein coffee
  • Saturday, 4/29: mini bagel with cream cheese, caramel latte protein coffee, large iced coffee with almond milk & 1 splenda
  • Sunday, 4/30: (brunch at the diner) omelette with goat cheese, mushrooms, and tomatoes, caramel latte protein coffee, 3 iced coffees with a splash of milk & splenda

Lunch: 

  • Wednesday, 4/26 4 oz of ground turkey with 1 oz of quinoa and mushrooms
  • Thursday, 4/27 – 4 oz of ground turkey with 2 oz of sweet potato and mushrooms along with that had just lettuce and a sprinkle of cheese.
  • Friday, 4/28 – I had run out of meal prepped food…so I had a salad with lettuce, mushrooms, and cheese along with the remaining 2 oz of sweet potato
  • Saturday, 4/29 – I went to lunch with a co-worker after a very long but successful event for work. I had a HUGE Greek salad with grilled chicken and a few slices of grilled pita
  • Sunday, 4/30 – No lunch, since my breakfast was brunch…at 1 pm

Snacks: Pretty much the same everyday – RX Bars, Oh Yeah bars, frozen blueberries with crystal light, carrots or rice cake with PB, and cottage cheese. I also had Phormula1 shakes or BCAAs in my water.

Dinner: I had cauliflower almost everyday….which has destroyed my stomach. Laying off that and all other super gassy veggies this week.

  • Wednesday, 4/26 – 10 grilled calamari rings with cauliflower & string beans
  • Thursday, 4/27 – Palm Beach salad from Chopt
  • Friday, 4/28 – 2 turkey burgers with mushrooms and cauliflower
  • Saturday, 4/29 – 2 turkey burgers with a salad and 1/2 small avocado
  • Sunday, 4/30 – 1 turkey burger with mushrooms & 2 plain rice cakes

My macros were pretty good, all things considered. My fats were a little high the last two days but otherwise they were spot on:

Beginning tomorrow, I will be incorporating cardio into every workout…everyday. It’s gonna suck but I have to make up for lost time. Friday is Cinco de Mayo and anyone who knows me knows how much I die for Mexican food…& margaritas. I may allow myself a taco or two but I won’t go crazy. This girl has a goal and once I reach it, I can celebrate with as many margaritas and/or tequila shots my heart desires!

I plan on keeping my diet mostly the same but maybe incorporating other protein bars into the mix. Seems the coffee RX bars I love so much are discontinued and while I do enjoy other flavors, it’s just not the same. So I’ll mix it up a bit. My workouts will be as follows:

  • Monday – upper body + cardio
  • Tuesday – lower body + cardio
  • Wednesday – upper body (PT)
  • Thursday – lower body + cardio
  • Friday – total body (PT)
  • Saturday – cardio (1 hour)

Since Sunday is the annual fitness expo at MetLife, I doubt I’ll do a workout. I’ll make that an active rest day, as there will be plenty of walking and whatever else I can get myself into.

Here’s hoping for a less stressful and more active week 3!

-Gina

6-Week Summer Slimdown

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In 2014, I embarked on a 4-week shred and Mission: Hot Body challenge. I mimicked the very strict & regimented diet and workouts of bikini competitors. Super clean eating , 2-a-day workouts…you name it, I did it. It was crazy hard…but I got it done. After 4 weeks of extremely hard work, I had abs and was the leanest & most cut I’ve ever been. The problem was that as soon as the challenge ended, it was my birthday and with it came ice cream cake & plenty of drinks throughout the weekend. To top that off, just one month later I ended up seriously injuring my shoulder…which I’ve recently had surgery to correct. Within two months, all of that hard work seemed to be for nothing. I still worked out and I continue to eat fairly well, but my body just doesn’t look how I want it to. I’ve also been feeling lost in the gym so I’ve decided enough is enough. Maybe it’s this whole recovery process or maybe I’m just tired of feeling so stuck…but this year I’m doing it again. Better than before. This time around, it will be a 6-week shred which will incorporate a stricter diet & some hardcore workouts. I’ve been working with a trainer to help me with corrective exercises throughout this rehab process so I’ve enlisted him to assist me with designing a more realistic…and safer workout program, which I’ll be posting as I go along.

First things first – the diet. In general, I eat pretty well…I’m just not super strict. For the next 6 weeks, I will be cutting out most sugar, alcohol, and processed foods as well as limiting my caffeine and dairy intake. Also, rather than guesstimate my portions I invested in a food scale. I’ve never been a huge fan of things like that but if I’m going to do this…I’m going to do it right. My only “treats(s)” will come for my birthday, which falls the week before the shred is set to end. My workouts are going to be structured to be hard…but not harmful to my recovery process. That being said, I have to be super diligent about everything I eat if I want this to work. It’s not going to be easy but I’ve done it before so I know that I can do it again.

My ultimate goal with this new challenge is to lose fat while gaining my lean muscle…and motivation…back. I’d love for you all to join me! We start Monday, April 17 & go until Memorial Day. Every night (for at least the first week), I will be posting my workouts and meals so as to help those who want to follow along. This is a list of the foods that I will be sticking to throughout the next 6 weeks, in case you want to reference it for food shopping:

  • Oats
  • Egg whites
  • Tuna
  • Brown Rice
  • Avocado
  • Lettuce
  • Chickpeas
  • Mushrooms
  • Sweet potato
  • Quinoa
  • Chicken
  • Ground Turkey
  • Veggies (kale, asparagus, string beans, zucchini, brussels, cauliflower, peppers, butternut squash)
  • Tilapia
  • Mahi Mahi
  • Calamari
  • Shrimp
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Cottage cheese
  • PB
  • Carrots
  • Frozen blueberries
  • RX Bars
  • Seltzer
  • Unsweetened cashew milk

**Not listed here are my kitchen staples (balsamic vinegar, spray/oil, hot sauce, mustard, spices, etc.) as well as my protein powder /BCAAs.**

Please feel free to message me at TheFight2BeFit@gmail.com with any questions you may have. Let’s get beach body ready & Fight to be Fit together!

-Gina

 

No Body is Perfect

“But you don’t look anorexic…” Yet I was. I struggled throughout high school. I was never clinically diagnosed. I didn’t know I had a problem. I was never super skinny or an unhealthy weight.

L-R: High school >> College >> Now


It was during National Eating Disorder Awareness week last month that this came to mind. I open up about so much…yet I never really opened up about my own disordered eating. I spent most of my life not even recognizing it as a “real” problem. I always thought that because I wasn’t diagnosed and because I was never underweight…I didn’t have a problem. But I did. I just didn’t know any better. I do now…so I’m sharing my story. Maybe it will help one of you out there to recognize a problem that you don’t even know exists.

I suffered from a variation of Anorexia known as Atypical Anorexia. A person suffering from this disorder will have many of the same symptoms as those with Anorexia. The difference is that the person will exhibit those symptoms without weight loss. They are often within or above normal weight range, making their appearance “atypical.” According to the National Eating Disorder Association, a person struggling with Atypical Anorexia may exhibit an extreme fear of being fat or of any weight changes and resort to abnormal eating behaviors such as calorie counting, cutting out certain foods/food groups, avoiding social events and functions that involve food, and more. Many individuals who have Atypical Anorexia may not even realize that they are struggling with a severe and deadly eating disorder, simply due to the weight stigma that surrounds this disease. A person may think, “I am not sick enough to have an eating disorder,” because he/she may be within or above a normal weight range. That’s exactly what happened to me.

My weight struggles began as a child. By the time I entered high school, I weighed in at 180lbs. Teen years are hard for every kid but it was especially hard on me. I watched as all of my friends got boyfriends, went on dates, had their first kiss…while I was left behind. Looking back on it now, I wasn’t all that far behind…but back then it felt like the end of the world. I was bigger than all of my friends. I couldn’t wear the same cute clothes everyone else did. Shopping was my worst nightmare. By sophomore year, I felt lost. I had plenty of friends but I hated myself…and how I looked. I went into a very bad depression. By senior year, after numerous diets failed to make me look how I wanted, I decided to control it myself. I decided that I would eat one thing per day. It started as one meal. It morphed into much worse. It got to the point where I was eating one thing per day – a cracker or a sour gummy worm (if I thought I needed a little sugar). This went on for a while until eventually I made myself sick to my stomach. I remember thinking that night about the day camp that I worked at every summer. Thinking about those little girls who I sometimes babysat…and whom I was a cheerleading coach during camp. I was only 17 but I distinctly remember that being the point where I changed my mindset..somewhat. I decided to start eating again. I didn’t want to set a bad example for those little girls.

While I did begin eating, it wasn’t a lot…probably not nearly what my body actually needed. However, I WAS eating. That fall, I began college at SUNY New Paltz. I got to be away from home and make a lot of new friends on a beautiful campus and town!  That mystique was short lived. A couple of months into my first semester, I developed severe stomach issues (which still plague me today) and ended up having to come home. My weight struggles weren’t over and neither was my poor relationship with food. I was eating but I definitely wasn’t eating well. I looked to celebrities and various articles for guidance but most of them steered me down a bad path. I tried every diet from one my doctor recommended called the “Scarsdale diet” to the South Beach diet, which I only did because Jessica Simpson did it for Dukes of Hazard. The summer before my senior year of college, I LIVED at the gym. I divided my time between the gym and the beach. I commonly refer to that as the skinniest (and best looking) summer of my entire life. It was. I got down to 130lbs, which to date, is the smallest I’ve ever been. While the number was great…nothing else was. I wasn’t eating well. I was partying a lot and compensating with extra time on the treadmill. I always did fasted workouts…even if i was doing strength training. The scale may have been nice to read…but my body didn’t really reflect that number. I wasn’t super toned and I sure wasn’t healthy. That lifestyle caught up with me once I got into a serious relationship and stopped my 2+ hour daily workouts. I put a lot of weight on. I tried to control it and maintain my hard work but because I never changed my lifestyle…it was next to impossible. Over the next few years, I was in and out of jobs and kept myself in an unhealthy relationship. My weight continued to climb as my confidence kept plummeting. By 2010 I was up to 210lbs, my all-time highest weight. I knew it was bad but I had very little motivation and no idea how to change it.

Two years later, I  finally had enough. I was done going through the motions of life. I was watching the Biggest Loser (season 14) and really connected with the contestants. I realized at that moment that I could do it – I could actually turn my life around! I started educating myself properly on nutrition and exercise. I began going to the gym a few days per week. I started out doing mostly cardio but as I learned more, and built more strength, I was able to incorporate weights into my routine. My metabolism is all but broken but after about a year of very hard work I was able to lose a little over 70lbs and go from squeezing into a size 14…to comfortably wearing a size 2/4.

I won’t lie and say that I’m 100% cured. I still struggle with things everyday. I worry that my recent surgery and modified workouts are setting me back. My clothes still fit but I see the scale climbing and my body losing the muscle that I worked so incredibly hard for. I’ve become very busy with my job(s) and while I love what I do and where I am…my diet has not been the best. There are meals that I skip. There are late dinners. It makes me worry…but I don’t let that stop me anymore. My mindset has completely changed. I may have these worries but I don’t let them consume me anymore. If I want to have a beer, a piece of candy, or buffalo wings…I have it. No guilt. I have finally realized something I should’ve realized years ago – life is way too short to spend it at war with yourself…and with food. For the first time in my whole life, I can honestly say I am not just existing…I’m actually living (and loving) life. Things aren’t perfect but I am doing my best to make the most of everyday.

To learn more about eating disorders and what you can do, check out my article with The Arena: http://thearenafitness.com/no-body-is-perfect/

If you or someone you know is struggling, please seek help. Encourage open dialogue with the people in your life…especially children/teens. Let’s break the silence on this horrible epidemic. Let’s Fight to be Fit together.

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

Gina

Heart Healthy Habits

February is American Heart Month, which focuses on the prevention of cardiovascular (or heart) disease. Cardiovascular is a term which relates to the heart, as well as the arteries and veins that supply our organs with blood. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women, accounting for 1 in 4 deaths in the United States.  Many Americans have at least one risk factor for heart disease such as high blood pressure, obesity, physical inactivity, or an unhealthy diet. Your risk also increases with age; however, regardless of age, it is NEVER too early to start practicing heart-healthy habits. Here are a few steps you can begin implementing at any age:

  • Check your family history. Ask family members if they have had heart disease or any risk factors for it. If the answer is yes, you have an increased chance for developing the disease will go up so it’s definitely important to learn the information sooner rather than later.
  • Smoking will double your risk for heart disease and stroke. Avoid all smoke, including second hand. Plus smoking combined with certain oral contraceptives can cause an increase in your blood pressure, so women should be sure to choose their birth control carefully.
  • Know your numbers, such as your cholesterol and blood pressure, which will impact your heart health. Visit your doctor regularly to monitor both of these. As we age, it becomes increasingly more critical to monitor changes in our body so make sure to get those regular checkups and screenings.
  • Excess weight increases the heart’s work. It also raises blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and triglyceride levels while lowering HDL (good) cholesterol levels. It can also make diabetes more likely to develop. By losing as little as 10 pounds, you can lower your risk for heart disease.
  • Follow a healthy, balanced diet & exercise regularly. As we age, our dietary needs, as well as physical limits, may change. However, regardless of your age, making smart food choices and keeping yourself active will insure a longer lifespan. A good rule of thumb is to follow these guidelines:
    • Eat more fruits & vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, poultry/fish, and nuts.
    • Avoid red meat, as well as sugary and processed foods, and foods high in sodium.
    • For overall cardiovascular health, the AHA suggests 30 minutes of aerobic activity, 5 days per week along with muscle-strengthening activity at least 2 days per week.
  • Regular physical activity can relieve tension, anxiety, depression & anger. Exercise increases the flow of oxygen, which directly affects the brain. Long term stress will cause an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, which can lead to damage of the artery walls. Find ways to reduce and/or manage your stress at home and at work. Practice stress management and relaxation techniques. A stressful situation will almost always cause your quality of sleep to decline, which can also impact your heart health.
  • Part of living a heart-healthy lifestyle is also dependent on getting enough sleep. People who don’t sleep enough are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease—regardless of age, weight, smoking and exercise habits.Studies show that adults who sleep fewer than six hours per night are about twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack as people who slept six to eight hours per night. Good-quality sleep decreases the work of your heart, as blood pressure and heart rate go down at night. Lack of sleep can also increase insulin resistance, a risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Making small adjustments to your daily routine will dramatically improve your overall quality of life. Remember – it’s never too early!! Take action today so you can look forward to a healthier tomorrow!