Living Healthy in a Hectic Industry

According to the Centers for Disease Control, every year more than 805,000 people in the U.S. suffer a heart attack, and in 2021 alone, some 695,000 died from heart attacks.

Living Healthy in a Hectic Industry
Unprocessed foods are the healthiest choice for busy professionals.

If you work in the real estate industry, chances are you’re constantly on the go—running from meeting to meeting, checking in on your listings, reviewing inspections, attending closings, and spending countless hours on the phone—all while trying to juggle your personal life. Chances are also that you may not be making the healthiest food choices or spending enough time on physical fitness.

Dina Katz, MD, FACC, senior attending cardiologist at Phelps Hospital in Tarrytown, has heard the same story all too many times, and unfortunately, these bad habits can often lead to heart disease. “While men in the U.S. continue to lead the pack in heart disease, it’s now also the leading cause of death in females,” she said. “In fact, one in every five women in this country die each year from heart disease.”

Dr. Dina Katz, attending cardiologist, Phelps Hospital, Tarrytown

According to the Centers for Disease Control, every year more than 805,000 people in the U.S. suffer a heart attack, and in 2021 alone, some 695,000 died from heart attacks. “But the good news is that more than 80%  of heart disease is preventable—just by making some simple changes in diet, lifestyle and medications,” Dr. Katz added.

The first thing Dr. Katz recommends is making and keeping your doctors’ appointments. “We understand that people are busy with their jobs and their families, but maintaining good health should always be a priority,” she noted.

In addition to regular blood pressure monitoring, her recommendations include blood tests for cholesterol and A1C (sugar level) screenings, and a calcium score test to determine the amount of calcification in arteries. “This is a phenomenal test that fuels prevention because once patients have the knowledge about what’s happening inside their bodies, they can begin prevention methods such as medication to control cholesterol,” she explained.

Because many heart conditions can be heredity, Dr. Katz advocates for screenings at an early age. “It’s also important that even children learn about healthy food options and exercise so they can begin living a healthy lifestyle and not have to play ‘catch up’ when they’re older,” she acknowledged. “Kids also model themselves after their parents, so if they see a parent exercising every day and making healthy food choices, they’re more likely to do the same.”

The most popular excuse she hears for not exercising is “not enough time.” “I get it,” she admitted. “Who wants to wake up at 5:30 a.m. and get on a treadmill or spend an hour at the gym after a long day at work? But you can break it up into segments and take 10-minute walks during your coffee break or lunch hour,” she said.

The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week—which is about 30 minutes, five days a week. “I keep a pair of sneakers and sweatpants in my car at all times, so I can take short walks between appointments,” Dr. Katz noted. “If you take 10 minutes to look at social media or talk on the phone, you can certainly work in 10 minutes here and there for physical activity.”

Jenna Koroly, MS, RD, CSOWM, CDN, senior registered dietitian with Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, shared her secrets for maintaining healthy eating habits. “Planning is the key,” she revealed. “If you don’t plan ahead, you’re likely to make unhealthy choices when you’re hungry.”

Jenna Koroly, senior registered dietitian, Lenox Hill Hospital, Manhattan

Processed foods like cookies, crackers, chips, candy and fast food are often easier options, but can wreak havoc on your diet. She recommends stocking your refrigerator or cooler with fruits, raw vegetables, hummus, plain Greek yogurt, nuts or protein bars with low sugars. “Whole, unprocessed foods are the best choice and foods like chickpeas, black beans and edamame are also great protein sources that can keep you full longer,” Koroly added.

When grocery shopping, she recommends shopping the perimeter of the store. “That’s where most of the non-processed foods are found—fruits, vegetables, yogurt, fish, lean meats, nuts and whole grains,” she said. “Once you start training your body and your brain to eat these foods, you’ll start to crave them instead of the sweets and fats.”

Free apps like “My Fitness Pal” track food’s calories, salt, sugar and vitamin content. “You can also plan what you’ll eat for the following day so that will take the pressure off and the challenges away,” she said. Finally, choosing a vegetarian or vegan diet is not always necessary for maintaining good health. “It all depends on the individual person and what he or she feels like they can do over the long term,” she said.

The last part of the healthy living puzzle is often overlooked. Cheryl Smith Alvarez, Director of Westchester Transcendental Meditation Center in Katonah and TM instructor, believes mindfulness and meditation are just as important as exercising and eating healthy. “TM has been proven to lower blood pressure, reduce stress and anxiety and promote clarity and creativity,” she explained. “And research has indicated that stress is the root cause of about 80% of doctor’s visits.”

A steady TM practice will decrease stress to help navigate the ups and downs of everyday business.

TM, a silent meditation, was developed by Maharishi Mahesh in India in the mid-1950s. Today, more than six million people worldwide have learned the technique.

According to the American Heart Association, TM is the only meditation practice that has been shown to lower blood pressure. The AHA also reported that lower blood pressure through a TM practice is associated with substantially reduced rates of death, heart attack and stroke.

Alvarez has even taught the nearly 70-year-old practice to doctors, nurses, and frontline workers throughout Westchester and New York City through the TM Center’s “Heal the Healers Now” program. “People in these positions can often become overwhelmed and suffer burnout, but a steady TM practice will decrease that stress to help them better navigate the ups and downs they face every day.”

Those in the real estate industry are no exception, where stress can be part of every deal. “Regular TM practice will help you to become less reactive and calmer in stressful situations,” added Alvarez.

TM can also help ensure a better night’s sleep and provide motivation and energy. “It’s not just a temporary ‘time out.’ Adding this to your daily routine—just 20 minutes in the morning and early evening—not only strengthens your nervous system but adds balance to your life,” she said. “It’s the ultimate self-care that results in inner peace.”

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