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Life’s Checkpoints

The moments that make a difference for you

Life is full of moments that make you stop and think. Checkpoints, large or small. Fun or serious. Moments that propel you forward on the same path or lead you to make a change. It may be the moment that you land that big promotion and understand that you do have the confidence and skills to reach your dreams. Even that moment you go off script on vacation, and take the more challenging adventure and come away so glad that you did. It may be the birth of a child or meeting your partner for life.

Or, it may be when you realize that no matter how busy you are, professionally or personally, it is critical to make time for your well-being and putting yourself first on your priority list.

Meeting Jim Messemer, who would become my husband in 1997, was one of the checkpoints that motivated me to make the time to exercise. As a senior level executive in the life sciences space with a particular focus in cardiology, Jim shared with me the importance of physical fitness and exercise on not only my heart but my overall well-being. Plus, we enjoy doing these things together. My preferred exercise is tennis and yoga. My favorite exercise is walking on the beach with our two black labs, Keeper and Courage. I am also inspired by my mother who at 85 continues to play two tennis matches a week and walks two miles five days a week. I hope I have her genes!

While we all know we should make time for healthy activity, actually doing it can be a challenge. I carve out time for exercise and try not to bump it off my calendar.

Here are some numbers that might keep you motivated:

· While one in 31 American women dies from breast cancer each year, heart disease is the cause of one out of every three deaths. Heart disease is a killer that strikes more women than men, and is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined.

· Physical activity reduces coronary heart disease in women by 30-40 percent.

· Each hour of regular exercise, adds about two hours to your life expectancy, even if you don’t start exercising until middle age.

· Even moderate exercise, such as brisk walking for as little as 30 minutes a day has proven health benefits.

These facts are why I am proud to be helping make a difference as a member of the Executive Leadership Team for the Bay Area American Heart Association’s (AHA) Go Red for Women movement.

Without regular physical activity, the body slowly loses its strength, stamina and ability to function well. Physical activity also can boost your immune system, improve your memory, and increase your enthusiasm and optimism. The latter contributing to a positive attitude that can be a major factor in achieving personal and professional goals.

Throughout my personal life and career at KPMG, focusing on my health, having a positive attitude, and developing the skills required to reach my goals, have been key pillars for my success. And for me exercising, with all the benefits it offers, is the foundation.

Yet there are factors that counter exercise and it’s important to remain vigilant about your diet and factors such as high cholesterol and elevated blood pressure. The AHA recommends these “checkpoints”: get your cholesterol checked starting at age 20 or earlier, if there is a history of heart disease in your family. Also, regularly check your blood pressure.

If you have not had your cholesterol checked recently, there is truly no time like the present.

Take the time to be healthy, and make your favorite exercise or physical activity a habit. The benefits are priceless.

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