You can’t outrun a bad diet

Laura Jackson | EVP of Health Care Innovation and Business Development, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield

The Idea: Challenge yourself and your family to log results of 5-2-1-0 every day.

As Americans, we have a love affair with food and technology that provide convenience ― all amazing advances in our lifetime. As a result, our communities’ environments and our subsequent behaviors lead to lifestyle-created chronic conditions, which are on the rise. Iowans are more obese than ever before and our kids are developing these same conditions at younger ages. The late ’90s and early 2000s were focused on exercise to address obesity, but we now are beginning to recognize the importance of food as energy.

Health is precious and personal. It has been realized by many before us that no amount of money can reclaim your health and that at certain points, there are no “do overs.” Remember that your body is an amazing machine that needs to be treated as such from the time you are little.

Running it too hard on a poor energy source will cause it to fail, and letting it sit idle on a poor energy source is even worse. We know now that diet and exercise are both important to living a long, healthy life, but diet eclipses all things good for us. In other words, you can’t outrun a bad diet.

Most people know what to do to get and stay healthy, but willpower is a muscle that needs to be exercised daily. It is also challenged repeatedly by our environments filled with unhealthy options. So how do you change your habits with so many tempting things around you? Don’t deprive yourself, but rather create a healthy habit for you and your family by making it fun. Research now tells us that it takes 66 days to create a habit, which could set you up well this year for the holidays. Imagine a Greater Des Moines where every citizen, every day:

  • Ate 5 fruits and vegetables.
  • Used 2 hours or less of recreational screen time. (If you use a computer at work, take breaks, stand and stretch often.)
  • Engaged in at least 1 hour of physical activity.
  • Drank 0 sugary drinks and instead focused on drinking half their body weight in ounces of water.

This could change our health and our lives for the better. The combination of these tactics is well documented to reduce chronic diseases like heart attack, stroke, diabetes and cancer; lower obesity rates; improve reading scores; lessen attention deficit disorders; and build healthy habits for a lifetime in our children. Logging your family’s daily progress of 5-2-1-0 and celebrating your goal achievement can be fun and one of the best investments you will ever make. And, it’s free and easy!

My challenge to all of us in Greater Des Moines is to tap into the resources at the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative at You will find tool kits and information to help us all regain and maintain the health of ourselves and our kids. Today can be the first day to live healthy ever after.