DEAR HARRIETTE: I have three friends who have suffered strokes in the past year. It has been devastating to see them struggle to heal. At first this got me motivated to take better care of myself, including eating smarter and becoming more active. Then I sort of slipped back into my old ways of being -- working all the time, not always watching my calorie intake ... same old, same old. I know better, but I also realize it is hard to change my behavior. What can I do to help get myself on a healthier track? I do not want to end up dealing with a health crisis that I have the ability to avert by acting now. How can I jump-start my fitness? -- Unmotivated
DEAR UNMOTIVATED: Start with a medical checkup. Determine everything you can about your health status. Find out what you need to work on to become a healthier you. Write down everything your doctor recommends. You already know that includes regular physical exercise. Make a plan for what you will eat and how you will move. If possible, enlist the support of an accountability partner -- someone you trust who will cheer for you and possibly go with you to work out. Write down your tasks for each day -- those that are for your health and those for the rest of your life. Check them off your list as you complete them. Stay in close touch with your friends who are recovering as well. Learning more about their plight may remind you to stay the course.