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Train the Brain for Health

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — You know you should put down those potato chips with avocado cheese dip in favor of celery and carrot sticks, perhaps with some sour cream.
“We all know we should make healthier choices, but we don’t necessarily make that a priority,” Dr. Randy Wright says.
Wright — director of the neurovascular unit at Conroe Regional Medical Center and medical director for the HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital’s stroke unit in Woodlands, Texas — is the author of “The Wright Choice: Your Family’s Prescription for Healthy Eating, Modern Fitness and Saving Money.”
A book that covers just about all the bases.
“When we’re younger, we spend our health to acquire wealth,” Wright says. “When we’re older, we spend our wealth to buy back our health.
“Why not retire healthy and wealthy?”
Q: Can you explain that?
A: We have a financial plan but not a health plan, in terms of preparing for our future. We want to live like there’s no tomorrow, in terms of what we eat, how we exercise and so on. But that’s not going to work out and we really know that.
Q: Can you talk about exercise? That’s the most difficult for me to schedule.
A: The first part of exercise is mental. Maybe make a deal with yourself that you’ll exercise at 5:30 when you get home. Do it for five minutes, then 10. No, your body won’t change a lot, but it will change the way you think.
Q: You docs always make it sound easy.
A: I didn’t always eat healthy. I knew I needed to eat more fruits and vegetables. I started forcing myself to eat strawberries and spinach together. Then I got used to the taste of spinach and berries. Gradually, I ate more spinach and fewer berries.
It’s a marathon — life, that is — not a sprint.
Q: May is Stroke Awareness Month. Can you talk about that?
A: If you have stroke in your family — genetics often set the stage. You can reduce your risk and increase your odds of avoiding a stroke by watching cholesterol. But you know that. Still, there are rules to follow.
Q: What’s new in your book about diet and exercise?
A: Well, I like to think the truth about food is revealed and the medical myths are debunked.
We all know we should make healthier choices, but we don’t always make it a priority. Sometimes it feels like we can’t make it our first choice, and staying fit and eating well falls through the cracks.
The secret to making healthy choices is locked in our brains.
I explore the psychology of why we think about being healthy, then don’t do it. To succeed, we have to completely change the way we think about food and the role exercise plays in our lives.
And, on top of all that, my book even has some recipes for healthier eating and outlines on how to go shopping.
You will learn to crave what you should eat and how you should exercise.
Q: I remain a skeptic.
A: Try it. You will like it.

-Jane Glenn Haas, The Orange County Register (MCT)