This is part of a series by Pharmacist George, a Connect site advocate. George will be suggesting small actions toward a healthy lifestyle and sharing excerpts from his book.

During my pharmacy career, I have come to realize that a good majority of people with chronic diseases are making the same common mistakes that put their lives in danger. Whether people are unaware or choosing to ignore the risk, it doesn’t change the fact that the choices they are making directly affect their lifespan and their quality of life.

All of these mistakes can be totally rectified with proper awareness. This is the second in a three-part series where we'll discuss those situations along with solutions.

Mistake #4: Not seeking the pharmacist’s counseling advice when picking up your drugs from the pharmacy

Solution: More than 97 percent of all patients my colleagues cater to in our daily pharmacy practice decline to be counseled. Of course this implies that all those who don’t seek counseling know everything about their disease and drugs. However, the alarming statistics released in the second mistake of this series tell us a totally different story.

My advice to you is next time you pick a medication for any condition especially chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and cholesterol, COPD or others is to seek the advice of the pharmacist before you leave the pharmacy even if it’s a refill. Frequently, I counsel people who have been using their inhalers inappropriately for years. People on multiple drugs for multiple chronic conditions must seek the advice of the pharmacist to get truly lifesaving advice about disease conditions, drugs and lifestyle related factors.

Not seeking the advice of the pharmacist is the equivalent of going to the doctor’s clinic for your ailments then getting a prescription without being examined.

Mistake #5: Making unfavorable lifestyle choices.

Solution: By far, this is the biggest misconception of all. People are under the impression that if they take their medications they’ll get well while continuing to smoke, remain overweight, eat without regard to quality or quantity of food, consume huge amounts of alcohol, sit all the time or lead highly stressful lifestyles.

Believe it or not, this is what I witness every day at the pharmacy. People's own unfavorable lifestyle choices are influencing directly the number of medications they take for chronic deadly diseases that are preventable. It is common for me to wait on people who bring me prescriptions for diabetes, cholesterol and/or blood pressure in one hand and in the other are munching on a bag of potato chips or drinking a large, sugary beverage and smelling like the cigarette they puffed before entering the pharmacy. While I am counseling them, I see their food cart full of sausage, pizza, cookies, loads more of sugary soft drinks and bags of potato chips that they take home for themselves and their kids.

America, we can never get well with the choices we’re currently making. We must change our lifestyles and our choices and learn how to build new habits. The only way out is to make small favorable lifestyle steps at a time.

This is what I am committed in doing and made it my mission to step out from behind the counter and dispense information instead of drugs.

Small Action of The Week:

Raise your daily fiber intake to 35 grams daily. Start your morning with a Fiber One or Fiber Plus breakfast bar, which cost $.50 a bar a give 9 grams of fiber per bar.

Keep up with "Actions of The Week" of other articles.

Excerpts from Lifestyle Makeover for All Couch Potatoes

By Pharmacist George Tohme
Copyright Tohme 2012

The Common Actions of People Who Lost Weight And Kept It Off Permanently

After analyzing the patterns of people who lost weight and kept it off permanently, The National Weight Registry Agency has revealed the common habits of those who lost more than 30 pounds and kept them off for more than three years. The National Weight Registry Agency is an agency where anyone who lost more than 30 pounds and kept them off for more than three years can register.

Apply these steps now and watch your weight shed, as well as shedding the probability of acquiring those uninvited deadly diseases. Those who lose weight and keep it off employ the following steps and habits:

• They exhibit persistence.
• They remain constantly active during the day, and they schedule 30 minutes to an hour of sustained bouts of activity of their choice (walking, cycling indoors or outdoors, etc.) several days a week.
• They eat three main meals and two fruit snacks daily.
• They increase their intake of water.
• They reduce portion sizes of foods consumed.
• They eat and enjoy a balanced variety of food.
• They consume high-fiber food, eat fruits and vegetables several times per day, and consume little or no sugar or salty packaged foods and snacks.
• They adopt a balanced approach and avoid dieting (this means there is no failure).
• They weigh themselves frequently (once or twice a week).
Adopt these habits and start applying them now! Be in control of your weight, health and life!

The Process of Learning and Unlearning a Habit and How Any of Us Can Adapt

Every aspect of a human being, whether physical, mental or emotional, is adaptable. We can get into all kinds of good or bad habits depending on what we choose. For a smoker, it will be crucial for your quitting success as you are attempting to build new good habits to act on the following information.

All of us can think of situations, which we had to adapt to regardless of how simple, or complex. For instance, think of a time when you owned a car where the parking brakes were activated by pressing with your left foot on the lower left pedal. Then you trade in your car for another where the parking brakes were activated by pulling with your right hand on a handle that is situated on the middle console between the driver and the passenger seats.

As you drive your car initially, and you’re trying to come to a full stop, and/or when you’re trying to pull the parking brakes the first few times, you’re going to try to erroneously push your left foot down in an effort to activate the parking brakes. But the parking brakes have changed location and they are no longer there. So you’ll correct that action by pulling the brakes with your right hand to activate the parking brake. After persistent and repeated trials of activating the parking brake, you no longer habitually slam your left foot down in the wrong place, but you begin to activate it correctly with your right hand.

What has happened is that after several actions and persistent repetitions, you learned a new habit of pulling the parking brake with your right hand without hesitation, without making a conscious effort to locate the correct parking brake location. It just became second hand. You have also unlearned another habit, the habit of slamming your left foot down in order to activate the parking brake, which is now no longer there.
In essence, what you have done is that you have replaced the gap of the old habit with the new desired habit after repeated persistent actions and correct new actions that now form your new habit.

Likewise, any human being can learn new good habits, such as becoming more active and making better food choices and unlearn or drop the less favorable habits that are potentially dangerous to your health, such as: smoking, eating large portions of food, and selecting fattening and nutrient-deficient foods. All it takes is persistent repeated action to choose more favorable foods and snacks as in List A of the food section next, and after 3-4 weeks of daily and weekly such choices, you will develop better food selection habits with little effort to remember doing so. Actually, if you were trying to drop a bad habit such as smoking or snacking on fattening and nutrition-deficient food, the only way to fill the gap that this bad habit has created would be by replacing it with a favorable new habit.

Just remember the one crucial factor that successfully makes that new task a new habit; it is the initial 3-week concept; expect that you are going to mess up or forget to act on those new tasks. But you can correct the mix-ups during each following opportunity. Just keep on going and never give up. This is a normal and expected occurrence. Do not be hard on yourself. Perfection and rigid and inflexible expectations lead to failure. No one is or can become perfect. Just remember the new car with new parking brake location when you initially slammed your left foot down mistakenly to activate the parking brake, it was a minor inconvenience, and with persistent attempts at the correct action, you succeeded.

The Spandex Phenomenon

Yet, people who have been making the wrong food selections and have adapted to sitting in front of the tubes for hours on end daily and who lead sedentary lives and have been accumulating mega pounds for the last 40 or 50 years, expect to get up one Monday morning without prior preparation, go on a strict diet, with or without the help of over-the-counter diet pills, get into a spandex outfit, and start “exercising” for 2 hours a day.

They pretend to know it all and with a “magic wand” or a “magic pill,” fix it all in one week. “It ain’t gonna happen.” Of course things will not go their way, and with the first expected failure, they revert back to their old habits and back to packing on the pounds and piling on all the imaginable fatal dangers that can accompany obesity, sedentary lifestyles and out of control chronic diseases….