Piscatella: Plan health now or deal with sickness later

NEW ULM – An author and speaker urged more than 200 people Tuesday to plan for their health today or plan for illnesses later at the Heart Beats Back/Heart of New Ulm (HONU) 6th Annual Community Summit at the New Ulm Event Center.

“I used to drink whole milk and eat lots of red meat. Both my parents smoked in the house, and I had 95 percent left main artery blockage before having heart bypass surgery at age 32,” Joe Piscatella said.

Piscatella, the author of “The Healthy Heart Cookbook,” listed deep breathing including meditation, attending church regularly and interacting with friends and family as important parts of a healthy lifestyle.

“Studies show attending church regularly adds four years to your life. Closing your eyes in prayer is a form of meditation,” Piscatella said. “Depression and social isolation can lead to heart attacks. Do some sort of daily exercise for at least 30 minutes. Get a partner, keep a journal, turn off the national TV news, get a good perspective, goals and values. Everything in life is neutral. It’s how you perceive it that makes it positive or negative.”

Piscatella called the HONU Project the best of its type that he has seen in the country.

“The operative word is choice. We all have stress. You have to manage it successfully,” he said. “Most American lifestyles are out of whack. We’ve got 6 percent of the world population and 33 percent of the overweight people. That leads to Type 2 Diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.”

Piscatella said 10 times more Americans will have heart attacks this year than all the (58,000) Americans who died in the Vietnam War.

“Women have heart disease too. They usually get it when they’re 10 years older than most men do because they are protected from it by hormones during their child-bearing years,” he added. “Most Americans buy exercise stuff, but often only wear athletic shoes, don’t eat healthy food, don’t exercise regularly, and are not happy, so all their stress is negative. Distress saps health.”

Dittrich Specialties Manager Brice Andree said he weighed 290 pounds a few years ago and had spinal fusion surgery due to his weight. Since joining HONU, he lost 90 pounds and recently completed a (26.2 mile) marathon more than an hour faster than he ran that distance in 2009.

“I’ve learned to control my addiction to certain foods with moderation,” Andree said. “I need support and need to support others, spend time with family, friends and other like-minded people. We’re starting a company fitness program now.”

Andree said he joined the HONU Lose It to Win It Community Health Challenge. All adults who live or work in New Ulm can register until Nov. 18, the deadline for 2,500 people to help New Ulm receive $100,000 in donations for outdoor fitness equipment and trail improvements including new signs. More than 2,000 people have signed up as of Tuesday night.

As they entered the event, attendees were offered antipasto skewers of sun dried, rehydrated tomatoes, pitted kalamata olives, mozzarella pearls, pickled artichoke hearts, basil-infused olive oil, garlic powder and oregano created by Hy-Vee Foods Kitchen Catering Manager Mike McAlpine.

For more information, visit heatsbeatback.org or call 507-217-5945.

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at fbusch@nujournal.com).

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