December 2008 - Give Yourself A Fabulous Christmas Gift

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It's that time of year again—spend, spend, spend.  "Show how much you care", by spending money to buy things that you really don't need.  The more you spend, the more you care.  The retail merchants and their advertising teams pull out all the stops to ensure that living in a country where you can have anything, we should want everything – it's the American Dream.  If you can't afford it now, you can "charge it" and pay for it later. Point is, you can have it now—no sacrifice needed.

However, just a generation ago, the desire to acquire was balanced. Holiday giving was simple, fun, and afforded by "lay-away" or Christmas savings clubs.  When you received your merchandise, you owned it-- free and clear. I don't know when these ideas flew out the window, but for many African Americans, acquiring "stuff" is now the expectation.  And Christmas is the time to "shop till you drop", "spend with no end".  Sad—especially given the current economic climate.

I could say much more about this phenomenon, but since this is a health column, I'll limit my comments to health.  Specifically, I want to ask those of you who are living a fabulous life – and have all the clothes, jewelry, tattoos, handbags, hairdos, cars and shoes to match – what's underneath?  For example, if you sport gold caps on your teeth, when was the last time you had a full dental exam? Are cavities, abscesses, or gingivitis lurking under your toothy jewelry?  Ladies, I know you spend upwards of $125 each and every week to maintain those lustrous weaves and airbrushed toe and fingernails, but when was your last pap smear and do you always insist your partner use a condom every time you have sex? Also, like so many other African Americans, are you stuffing too much tummy and booty into those designer jeans?  Is your body mass index in alignment with your weight?  Can you see where I'm going with this?

The foundation for living fabulously well is being fabulously healthy and as a community, we African Americans are not.  Blacks suffer from disproportionate levels of HIV / AIDS, Diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke and many types of cancer. Heredity may play a role in a few of these diseases, but bad health habits and poor lifestyle choices established while we're young play bigger roles.

So, this holiday season when you're busy buying more "stuff, take time from your fabulous life to guarantee your fabulous future.  Exercise, tune your body up with a full health screening before you tune-up your car.  Take time to meditate, pray, and relax.  Pay attention to your diet, drink moderately, control anger and stress.  Rather than giving more "things", give the gift of your time and love to your family.  This holiday season, live a truly  fabulous life and lay the foundation for a long and fabulous future of good health and good family relationships!

Happy Holidays on your Journey to Wellness!

With you on your Journey to Wellness,
Dr. Mary S. Harris

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