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Live in hope, not fear: 

The Canyon Ranch Institute Life Enhancement Program

HEALTH IS THE opposite of fear. We're all afraid of losing our health. We all fear diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, and cancer.

We fear losing our limbs, losing our ability to move, and losing our ability to think clearly. We fear losing the ability to enjoy the world, to enjoy friends, and to enjoy families.

Fear, as Franklin D. Roosevelt so aptly told the nation at the depth of the Great Depression, is the enemy.

Fear can make our small problems feel like mountains and our small steps toward healthy living feel like marathons.

This is as true in Savannah as it is across the nation and around the world. Last week, here in Savannah, a small group of committed individuals set out to change their world by addressing their fear.

The Canyon Ranch Institute Life Enhancement Program (CRI LEP) formally launched with the first group of participants at Curtis V. Cooper Primary Health Care, Inc. on Broad Street.

The CRI LEP is a truly integrative health program encompassing elements that address our minds, our bodies, our spirits, and our emotions – including our fear.

During the first of 12 weekly sessions, participants were asked to describe their fears about their own health. Some of their fears include:

• My weight makes me unattractive and I will be alone always.

• Losing parts of my body.

• I fear becoming morbidly obese.

• Heart failure, diabetes, and congestive heart failure.

• Being too stressed.

• High blood pressure that might lead to kidney failure.

• Always being overweight.

• I am always exhausted.

• My health deteriorating.

• Not being able to control my high blood pressure.

• That I might die before my husband, because I'm the only one who takes care of him.

Today is always the best day to start to address your fears, to improve your health, to start to prevent and even reverse chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, heart disease, and obesity.

As the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states, "As a nation, 75% of our health care dollars goes to treatment of chronic diseases. These persistent conditions—the nation's leading causes of death and disability—leave in their wake deaths that could have been prevented, lifelong disability, compromised quality of life, and burgeoning health care costs."

The Canyon Ranch Institute Savannah Partnership (CRISP) is just getting started to work with individuals, businesses, and a wide variety of organizations here in Savannah to address the problem of chronic disease and eliminate the unnecessary burdens created in our lives – financially, emotionally, socially, and culturally – that are caused by unhealthy lifestyles.

Unhealthy behaviors include smoking, drinking too much alcohol, not moving our bodies enough, eating more food than we need or not enough healthy foods, and a very common problem – not sleeping enough because we let our fears and worries keep us awake.

All of us working with Canyon Ranch Institute, including 17th U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona, are grateful to Charles H. and Rosalie Morris, Connect Savannah, and our growing list of partner organizations and participants in CRISP.

We invite you to join us in any way you can. The road to better health starts – always – with a single small step.

Consider these easy changes to your life that can help you prevent chronic disease and live a healthier and happier life:

• Park in the parking spot farthest from your destination, not the closest.

• Eat one less fried food item each week.

• Take a moment to breath, relax, and meditate to manage your fear and stress.

• Drink more water and less sugary drinks.

• Focus on your own sense of purpose. Ask yourself: "What do I want to create with my life?" To find your sense of purpose, think of what makes you happy.

Also, notice where your mind goes when your thoughts wander – is it to a place of fear or a place of hope? These are important questions for your health and well-being.

As Canyon Ranch Institute founder Mel Zuckerman says, "Health is a resource for your life, not just whether you are sick or not. Use your health to make your world a better place for you and everyone you know!"

As announced last week in this space, the CRI Healthy Garden is another program in the CRISP effort in Savannah. CRI will be announcing the date and location of the first organizational meeting in this space next week. In the interim, if you're interested in joining this effort to create a healthy green space filled with healthy food and flowering plants let us know by telephoning CRI in Savannah at (912) 443-3264; Tweeting @CRIHealthyWorld, or by emailing CRI@canyonranchinstitute.org.

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  • During the first of 12 weekly sessions, participants were asked to describe their fears about their own health.

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