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No doubt I've succeeded in upsetting more than a few "professionals", but I'm just an average Joe who gets a bit tired of being misled and ripped off into the bargain. I will admit, though, that not every promotion is a complete scam. Some have merit loitering amongst the pseudo-medical jargon. The odd one may even benefit general health. But, in the main, they offer very little that we couldn't work out for ourselves, or buy from the shops a darn sight cheaper.

As for the genuine medicos, I'm sure they have our well-being at heart and are constantly working to update and improve their advice to us. If they get it wrong from time to time, it is with the best of intentions and they do tend to come up with the right stuff eventually. Stacking the educated against the educating, there is a very big difference between the informed advice of scientists who are actually qualified and the hard-sell of those who simply appear on media commercials pretending to be. Personally, I'd rather listen to a Doctor than a quack every time!

At the end of the day, however, we have to decide for ourselves what is best for us. But how do we do that? A rule-of-thumb guide would be: avoid excess. If a fad diet recommends large amounts of any one food type at the expense of others, we should be wondering what it might do to us in the long run. Too much fat and carbohydrates are likely to produce more body fat; and if we have that already, why risk increasing it? Conversely, cutting these out altogether, even for those of us who lead a sedentary life, may reduce weight, but could also place our general health in jeopardy. Striking the right balance is the way to go.

The same rule applies to exercise - too much can be as harmful as not enough. It all depends on an individual's lifestyle and state of health. If an occupation requires sitting for most of the working day, participating in some physical pastime will help limber up those stiff muscles. Even manual labour doesn't necessarily provide all of the exercise the body needs to function properly. We may be on our feet all day, but how much of that time are we actually walking as opposed to shuffling or plodding?

In regard to general health, honesty is the best policy. There are plenty of charlatans out there ready to con us. We don't need to do it to ourselves. If we are prepared to admit there is room for improvement, we are well on the road to finding a solution. Better for us if it is sooner rather than later.

Because I want you to walk the safe road to happiness, I will repeat my former warning. Before starting out on that new diet and/or exercise program, there is one important first step to take - see a Doctor and get a check-up. Explain your intentions and present the plan you are thinking of following. There may be an existing medical problem which needs taking into consideration. On the other hand, and this is what we would all be hoping for, you could get the green light plus an offer of continuing support and advice so necessary for eventual success.

Start out right, take it in easy stages and you are more likely to live better, longer and happier.

Next issue: Junk-Food Habits - why do we eat junk-food and how do we stop?

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Where every effort has been made to be accurate and fair-minded, comments and opinions expressed on this website are based on personal experience and do not necessarily reflect the views of the wider community or those groups and institutions mentioned. A Season of Happiness and its staff accept no responsibility for any outcome based on suggestions offered. What works for us may not work for you. Please bear this in mind.

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