Letter: Walking the Talk on Heart Health

The county health director shares how he changed an unhealthy lifestyle and encourages residents to do the same.

 By Nick Macchione

Director, County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency


Take steps toward a healthier heart—get started by joining us April 4 at the American Heart Association’s National Walking Day celebration.

One of the biggest roadblocks people encounter when they make the decision to get healthy is figuring out where to start. I had this very dilemma when I decided to take charge of my own wellness. 

I was having a difficult time finding a balance between my personal health and other obligations in my day-to-day life. As my schedule became more hectic, I found myself tempted to eat less-than-nutritious food and forgo exercise.

When I became director of the County’s Health and Human Services Agency and started work on the County Board of Supervisor’s 10-year wellness initiative, Live Well, San Diego!, I knew that I had  to make a lifestyle change. I could not ask the residents of San Diego County to make positive healthy choices and prioritize wellness if I did not “walk the talk” and make healthier choices for myself.

I decided to make small changes to my daily routine. I began to cut unhealthy foods from my diet. I also began to carve out time in my day to exercise. I found that one of the easiest ways to incorporate exercise into my routine was to walk, whenever possible. I walked with colleagues to meetings in downtown San Diego; I walked with my family around my neighborhood; and I also rediscovered the numerous County Parks trails in the county. Walking turned out to be a great way to recharge and reconnect with friends and family. 

The change in my health was gradual, but profound: not only did my blood pressure go down, but my weight dropped as well. Now it’s easier for me to stay focused and energized throughout the day. My top priorities have always been balancing (to borrow a phrase from former football coach Vince Lombardi), “Family, Work and Play”, and now, because I am more healthy, I am better able to enjoy all three.  

I invite you to take steps toward a heart healthy lifestyle by joining me April 4 at the San Diego Concourse for the American Heart Association’s 4th Annual National Walking Day celebration. The event starts at 11:45 a.m. with a one-mile wellness walk, followed by complimentary health screenings, AED/CPR demonstrations, entertainment and free sandwiches. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit sdheartwalk.org.

Let’s get walking, and living well!


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