Skip to main content

Georgia Mountain Laurel Magazine

Staying Healthy This Holiday Season: A Few Tips From an Expert

Dec 30, 2016 09:17PM ● By Melanie Heisinger
Staying healthy during the holiday season can be a challenge. There are treats at every turn, tasty eggnog to sip, and delicious meals at an almost nonstop pace. 

We reached out to a local doctor, Stephen Jarrard, MD from Tiger Clinic, for a few tips on staying somewhat healthy this holiday season. Not only did we get some great tips, we also got to know a little bit more about him, as well. 

Happy Holidays! 

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Have you always wanted to be a doctor? 

I admired doctors when I was younger, and always loved science. But, I first wanted to be a fighter pilot, and more specifically, an astronaut.

As I got older, I wanted to follow a military career as I also admired many great American generals. So I sought and gained appointment to West Point, graduated from there, and was an Army Infantry Officer for many years before starting my medical training. I went to Medical School on an Army scholarship, so went back to the Army after as a surgeon for 10 more years. 

I retired after that, and now feel very at home in Rabun County and Northeast Georgia - my family origin.

What's your most favorite aspect of your job? 

Dealing with insurance companies and government regulations, of course! 

Just kidding, that's a doctor joke. 

Truly, it is being able to do something to help people feel better right now in the moment. Even more important, I love educating and teaching people about wellness and taking care of themselves to feel better longer, and avoid being sick or developing chronic diseases. I am a better physician and surgeon if I keep you well and at the top of your game. More so than if I constantly have to fix you.  However, we are a team, and so you need to help me help you. If you don't do that, we will not be as successful.  

What's been your most memorable moment as a doctor? 

Taking care of American Soldiers in Afghanistan when deployed with the Army. My job was to get them back home to their families. Hands down, nothing will ever top that. 

A close second was taking care of the local people who really have nothing. I mean, really nothing. They could not pay, and they could not speak English - but the look of gratitude in their eyes was priceless.  hey felt that the "American Doctors" could do anything - and would walk miles to bring sick children.  Extremely humbling, as well as memorable and gratifying.  

What can someone do this holiday season to stay healthy? 

I want people to enjoy this sacred time of the year and the good things of life.  Let yourself have some fun and enjoy life, but don't make a habit of what you might do during this season.  Increase your daily activity during this time to help "burn off" some excess.  Walk more and further.  Go to the gym or work out. Then, keep doing it the rest of the year!

Do you have any specific tips for anyone going to a holiday party or dinner?

Realize that health and wellness are a way of life, not a specific diet or time of year. One dinner or party, even if you "splurge" is not going to be unhealthy in and of itself. If you lead an overall healthy lifestyle, you can have times to enjoy things you normally might not do, and it will not ruin you. Just remember to get back on track, and that to be fit and slim, especially past middle age, requires some discipline and sacrifice. 

There are no magic pills or miracle diets, regardless of what you see, hear, and read. I am sorry, but that is just the simple truth. But the rewards of such a lifestyle and the increased quality of life are well worth the price.

What else do you recommend?

Drink more water.  Eat less sugar, or none.  Be more active.  Get good sleep and make it a priority.  Cultivate good friends and relationships.  Avoid toxic people and situations.   Don't carry grudges - they are heavy and only hurt you.  Nourish your spiritual side however you see fit.  Enjoy your family. These all have to do with your overall health and wellness.

And remember, on their deathbed, "I wish I'd spent more time at work," said no one, ever. 

Dr. Stephen Jarrard is a retired Army Surgeon who now practices Surgery and General Medicine in & around Rabun County.  He is Board Certified in Surgery and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons (FACS).

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Georgia Mountain Laurel's free newsletter to catch every headline