Help to blossom in spring

Most of us know what it takes to live a healthy lifestyle. As much as we wish there were a magic pill or other quick fix that would help us drop those excess pounds, eat healthier or dissolve stress, we’re well aware of the practical but challenging steps we need to take to improve our overall health.

The successful recipe includes a few key ingredients, including proper nutrition, moderate exercise and adequate rest. For some of us, the missing ingredient might be as simple as an old-fashioned kick in the pants.

Enter “6 Weeks to a Healthier You,” an excellent program for residents of South Snohomish County. Offered by the Verdant Health Commission (which also oversees the agreement by which Swedish runs the former Stevens Hospital; formerly South Snohomish County Commission for Health), it’s a series of healthy living workshops scheduled over a six-week span in April and May.

The program is run by the charismatic and motivational Joe Piscatella, who isn’t some 20-something in a tight leotard bouncing around a high-paced fitness class. He’s a been-there, done-that kind of guy who made significant lifestyle changes after undergoing heart bypass surgery at age 32. Now, 34 years later, he’s a best-selling author, popular speaker and respected resource on the link between lifestyle and health.

It’s a program designed to motivate participants by showing them, quickly, just how much a change in habits can improve the health. Pre- and post-program biometric screening will measure triglycerides, cholesterol, body mass index, glucose and blood pressure, key indicators of a long lists of health risks. By testing before and after the sessions, participants and organizers will be able to track progress and evaluate results.

The tests alone are worth $100, making the $49 program price a bargain from the get-go.

Participants will attend six evening presentations at the Lynnwood Convention Center, with session titles including:

•How to make your health last as long as your life;

Eating Healthy in a World;

Move It or Lose It;

Take a Load Off Your Heart;

Healthy Cooking at Home;

Raising Fit Kids in a Fast World.

The folks at Verdant have worked hard to eliminate potential obstacles to participation. They’re offering scholarships to those who can’t afford the registration fee and providing free childcare for participants under the direction of the YMCA of Snohomish County and the Dale Turner Family YMCA.

With so many public health programs eliminated by budget cuts, this kind of public offering is especially gratifying.

To learn more about “6 Weeks to a Healthier You,” or to sign up, visit