WITH the recent and sudden death of Press Secretary Cerge Remonde, a lot of people have suddenly developed a heightened awareness of their health. When a public figure like Remonde succumbs to cardiac arrest without seeming warning or previous signs of ill health, we are suddenly hit with the realization that what happened to him could easily happen to any of us.

When one is young, one usually does not take one’s health seriously. Youth cloaks us with a false sense of invincibility. The young usually don’t care about being healthy—-all they care about is being beautiful, perhaps because for most young people, health is not yet an issue. I urge young people, though, not to be so confident or complacent.

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With the way children and teen-agers these days are stuffing themselves with junk food and high-calorie snacks, I shudder to think about what their lab results will be like when they’re 30. There are healthier choices but the reality is that for many working mothers, the unhealthy choices are easier, faster and cheaper.

I’m not saying that you should never eat junk food or fast food. All I’m saying is that if you eat junk food or fast food on a daily basis from childhood to adulthood, you’re seriously committing suicide. And if and when you reach 40, everything just gets more complicated.

You don’t only have to think about blood sugar levels, you also have to think about your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. At this point in your life, you do not want to be afflicted with diabetes, hypertension or heart disease—-diseases we can attempt to avoid by living a healthier lifestyle.

Those who can exercise should. Those who can push their plate away when they’re full, should—-and this includes everyone of us. Those who drink and smoke should consider quitting or cutting back. The carnivores among us should consider including fruits and vegetables on their diet. And those who live for sinfully, sugar-filled, calorie-laden delights should consider a hiatus from these unhealthy desserts and snacks.

The wisest thing I’ve ever heard about food is this—-it’s not really WHAT you eat, it’s HOW MUCH you eat that really counts in the end.

So don’t despair. You don’t have to give up lechon for the rest of your life but don’t make a habit of eating lechon every week. Eating lechon during parties will not kill you—-unless of course, you’re like someone I know who eats one kilo of lechon in every sitting. You can eat those doughnuts but don’t eat a boxful for breakfast on a weekly basis.

Moderation is the key—-not just in eating but also in exercise. You don’t have to spend three hours in the gym daily. In fact, 30 minutes of aerobic exercise daily will do. You don’t have to aim to burn 6,000 calories everyday like they do on TV. Because remember, while these reality shows purport to be real—-they’re not. It is not normal to spend 12 hours a day in the gym beating yourself to pulp.

Ultimately, life will end for all of us, no matter how well we take care of ourselves. We should recognize that everyday is a gift from God. But let’s not tempt God by abusing our bodies and living like we only want to live until 50.

(sunstarcebucolumnist@yahoo.com)