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Rent to Own 

In his latest book, fitness trainer Mackie Shilstone shows how to take ownership of your health

During his more than 30 years as a fitness trainer, Mackie Shilstone has worked with clients ranging from Serena Williams to John Goodman. One a professional athlete, one an actor, these two very different people represent the myriad walks of life from which Shilstone's clients approach him. But Shilstone argues the difference between an elite athlete and an everyday person who wants to be healthier is not as great as one might think. "There are only different goals," he says.

  With his seventh book, Stop Renting Your Health: Own It!, Shilstone combines meal and supplement plans, exercise plans and testimonies from his clients. It is part of a set that includes a 45-minute workout DVD of core training exercises. "For the first time ever, I've put together exercises I've used for years and have created with world champions," Shilstone says. "It's a two-part set: the first part is education and the second is the plan. We take you through."

  Though the volume is slim, its 160 pages are dense with information that comprises a thorough manual for health: There are health checklists, a chapter on stress management, a rundown of recommended tests to get in a comprehensive health exam, weight training exercises with illustrations, meal plans and more. Shilstone addresses everything from the medical nuts and bolts of health (triglyceride levels, anaerobic thresholds) to its metaphysical aspects (the importance of meditation and good relationships). It's all contained in the framework of a three-step program: Step one is education; step two is a diet and supplement plan and step three is an exercise regime. Despite covering a lot of ground, the steps are simple to follow.

  "If it's complex, people aren't going to do it," Shilstone says. "I titled the book Stop Renting Your Health because over the years, I've realized you can't be successful unless you can convince people to take ownership of their health. People have to treat their health as a tangible item."

  Shilstone worked with local writers and editors, printing companies and production houses. The book draws heavily from his work at East Jefferson General Hospital's wellness program. "This was all developed here as a New Orleans product," Shilstone says. "It's a preventative medicine product (featuring) New Orleans people and changes that took place here."

  Shilstone is quick to draw the distinction between preventative care and what he calls "sick care": "We have a misunderstanding of health care in this country," he says. "We're defining health care as going to the doctor for treatment. But that's not health care — that's sick care. I'm in the health care business. My job is to push (sickness) off as long as possible."

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