My Path to a Healthy Life
By Nancy M. Ouhib, MBA, RD, LD / June & July 2012

I DEVELOPED AN INTEREST in nutrition in my high school years.

Let me begin with a little history. One of the great achievements of the women's movement was the enactment of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Athletics was one of ten key areas addressed by the law. My family lived in Sudbury, Massachusetts. Lincoln Sudbury Regional High School (LSRHS) had a phenomenal athletics department that was required to be equally supportive of women's and men's athletics. I played every season of varsity sports for all four of my pre-collegiate years.

LSRHS was a highly competitive school with excellent coaches and trainers that instilled in the athletes the need for proper nutrition and rest to perform our best. Training started in midsummer for fall sports. Those first few weeks were brutal, if you were not in shape. I learned quickly that peak performance was the result of proper eating, weight maintenance and adequate rest. Peak performance also earned you the right to play first-string on the varsity teams in the position you wanted to play.
My interest in nutrition grew as I took my science courses and, by my senior year, I knew that I wanted to go to college to study nutrition. I graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.S. in nutrition and dietetics. I was accepted in the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center dietetic internship. It was an intense, ten-month program.

Upon successful completion of the internship, I took the registration exam, conducted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. When I passed, I was issued a registration number and I was legally a registered dietitian. Registered dietitians must maintain their registration (national) and licensure (state) requirements, which keep them updated in the profession.

I have always believed in practicing what I preach. My daily routine consists of six small meals a day that include primarily foods prepared at home without salt. I concentrate on incorporating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, skim milk and skim dairy products. Fats are polyunsaturated. I try to eat a minimal amount of saturated fats and cholesterol.

I like eating small, frequent meals because I believe it is better for your digestive system. I include plenty of fiber and water in my diet. I exercise every day. My exercise regimen includes walking around one mile, bicycling five miles, and swimming every other day. I do all of my own yard work. Gardening is a great way to get your vitamin D. It is considered to be one of the best forms of exercise for bone maintenance because you are working against gravity. I do not take any vitamins or supplements and I am a firm believer that, if you eat a well-balanced diet and exercise, there is no need for supplementation.

Many people do not realize that the body will only absorb and utilize what it needs physiologically. The nutrients that are absorbed most effectively occur naturally in our foods. The body will automatically rid itself of unnecessary supplements as a waste product when it cannot utilize them. The other concern is toxicity of supplements that are stored by the body. I am not a proponent of supplements, nor do I use them. I maintain my weight with diet and exercise and it works!

My downfall is sweets. I love sweets and I do not deprive myself of indulging. It is better to enjoy these delights and incorporate them into your delectable allowances. Everything in moderation is a good motto to practice and this requires discipline.

Now I teach students in Broward schools that offer the Fuel Up to Play 60 program about the value of nutrition. This is a fantastic program in 70,000 schools nationwide. The program teaches students the importance of a well-balanced diet and exercising for a minimum of sixty minutes every day. I believe it is essential that we get kids outside, exercising and eating right. I teach these students about nutrition and that I am an example of what they can do to maintain their health and weight for a lifetime.

My blood pressure is 90/60. I do not take any medications or supplements. I am an ideal body weight, I eat right, and I exercise every day. Join the movement and you can do it, too

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