Veteran journalist Deborah Norville has been anchor of "Inside Edition" since March 1995. Ratings jumped 15% the week the two-time Emmy winner joined the series, which is now the nation's top-rated syndicated news magazine.
What was the "ah-ha" moment that made you start taking your health seriously?
There has been no "ah-ha" moment for me with heart health. When you grow up in the South where everything's dipped in grease, heart problems are all around you! My grandpa died when I was 10 (he was 68) of an aneurysm. My dad inherited his cardiac issues with heart blockages, bypass surgery and high cholesterol.
At one point, my own cholesterol measured over 200, which scared the dickens out of me. So I tried to make gradual but sensible changes in my own life. My sisters have, too. All of us are active; two of my sisters have done 60-mile walks for breast cancer, and one of them runs four miles a day. We try to be smart about food choices, and I have learned there is some great stuff out there. Homemade kale chips are delicious and cheap — and good for you. And what's good for your heart is good for your brain. Alzheimer’s research has seen the benefits to the same heart-healthy routine as have heart disease researchers.
Do you have a secret habit that is part of your healthy lifestyle?
Well, the biggest thing is to be active and watch what you eat. For me, food used to be a BIG part of my life. Meals were anticipated. Now, I really don't care. Food is fuel, not entertainment. I try to manage stress too. In my book "Thank You Power," I detail the benefits of gratitude, one of which is the positive affect that it puts you in, countering the stress hormones that typically arise when we are rushed, frustrated and angry. Those hormones are facilitators for the buildup of the kinds of plaque that eventually can clog arteries.
Another great stress reliever is knitting, believe it or not. Researchers at Harvard Medical School found the repetitive motions of activities like knitting or crochet actually help lower those stress hormones I mentioned, as well as blood pressure and heart rate. I was delighted to recently share that, as well as a really beautiful knitting pattern, when I wrote the foreword for "Knit Red: Stitching for Women’s Heart Health." Some proceeds from that book will go to fight heart disease. Since knitting has been a part of my life since I was 8 years old (and since I have a line of knitting yarns!), I would be thrilled if more people took up the craft.
If you could permanently get rid of one bad habit, what would it be?
I totally give into temptation and indulge WAY too often in my favorite pig-out food: potato chips and milk. Most people are horrified by the combination, but I love it!
What is your greatest health achievement or milestone?
I am probably most proud of losing 63 pounds after my son was born — and I mean AFTER he was born. That's how much I dropped in the seven months following my first son's birth — NOT what I weighed during the pregnancy (which was complicated by toxemia). I made a concerted effort to follow a strict eating plan, coupled with a daily exercise routine of jogging followed by exercises (sit-ups, leg lifts, bands, etc.). This was in the wake of my departure from NBC's "The Today Show" when my husband wisely moved our little family to France to get away from the prying press. I did this without any fancy gym — just the countryside, a towel to lie on and one resistance band. It proved to me that A) I could do it and B) I didn't need pricey gyms to help me along the way.
What is your biggest health hang-up in others?
I am greatly concerned by the number of overweight and obese children I see. A couple weeks ago, I was at a swim championship, ostensibly the final event at the end of a summer-long sports program. I wish I had a dollar for every chubby child I saw diving into the pool. Tummies lopping over waistbands, little thighs dimpled from fat. It was alarming. If children who are part of an active sports program are packing on the pounds, what's happening to the rest of the country? The secret, I suspect, lies in portion control. Somehow we've become addicted to the oversized plate, filled to the brim with food. I would love to be a part of an effort to educate Americans on just what an appropriately sized meal should look like. Those not-very-little boys and girls will face a lifetime of health issues if they don't nip it in the bud — now.
Run, walk, ride or swim?
Run and walk. I have decided to take my multitasking to a different level, reading the morning papers while walking at 5% incline on the treadmill. The papers have to be read anyway so I kill two birds with one stone and burn a few calories while doing it. Then, if time permits, I throw a few sprints in there — though I confess, I find it hideously boring! For me, swimming is what you do when you are scuba diving and didn't come up right next to the boat!
If you were a fruit or vegetable, what kind would you be?
Strawberries and blueberries, mixed. I love the taste sensation!
If you could "superpower" one of your five senses, what would it be and why?
I would see better. I have worn glasses since fifth grade when I couldn't even see the eye chart, [or even] the big "E" on it! I would love to have the kind of visual acuity I have heard some Andean tribes possess!
If you could break a world endurance record, what would it be?
That really holds no appeal for me. I don't think the body was designed to be pushed to its logical limits. The endurance record I would want is to have a long life, free from health problems and then leave it — quietly, peacefully in my sleep, knowing I have raised a family of moral, giving, strong children. That's enough for me!
If you could tell one thing to your adolescent self, what would it be?
Keep moving. As long as you keep moving — physically for your health, intellectually for your brain and "aspirationally" for your personal growth — life will be good. I have more or less been able to do this. At some points, exercise tapers off; at others, one's "get-up-and-go" seems to have “gone-off-and-left." But generally, I have kept on moving. In fact, that's the title of a song I wrote a few years ago. "I'm gonna keep on moving, gonna keep on pushing, nobody's gonna stop me now." Pretty good anthem to live by, don't you think?