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Greetings again! I’ve been on a staycation while planning a couple of upcoming vacations. Although a staycation is only a vacation in your mind, you can still reap some health benefits. A staycation can alter your focus and your thought patterns. I personally find that staycations help me relax, let go of any negative thoughts or energy, and decrease my levels of stress. I usually begin by picturing myself sitting on a very comfortable lounge chair under a big umbrella enjoying the ocean breeze while sipping ice water and reading a book with relaxing background music. As I picture this, I gently close my eyes and automatically begin to utilize my deep, relaxing, diaphragmatic breathing techniques. Ah, that’s wonderful! I need to do more of this throughout the year.
Speaking of years, I just can’t believe that tomorrow is New Year’s Eve. Wow, 2010 has really become a blur, but a great one. As I evaluate my accomplishments of this year, I am planning for next year. That leads me to the question, “Should we make a New Year’s resolution or develop goals for the new year?” When I searched the definitions of these words as a comparison, the results were interesting. The definition of resolution is- a formal expression of opinion or intention made, usually after voting, by a formal organization, a legislature, or other group. The definition of goal is- the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end. Opinion verses result or achievement with effort? I vote that we all develop New Year’s goals! We tend to write our goals down which then holds us accountable. Goals are measurable and objective. Keep in mind that goals can and need to be updated and amended regularly to help us attain our goals and achieve success. So why not begin now by starting a goal sheet for 2011? You have nothing to lose-only goals to achieve!
If you need some suggestions for some 2011 goals, let me help. Try to make 2011 the year to take charge of your health. There are so many things we can do to promote healthy living, longevity, anti-aging, healthy aging, and the list continues. Begin by setting a goal of 30 minutes of exercise a day-even just walking has health benefits. It’s all about getting up and moving-get off the couch! If 30 minutes a day is overwhelming, begin with 3 times a week and increase it to 5 days per week, until you hit 7 days per week. By committing to physical exercise, your brain reaps benefits too! You will gain increased blood flow throughout your body and brain which helps maintain brain health and cognition.
Speaking of brain health, we all need to include a goal addressing our brain fitness and maintenance. Make a goal to stimulate and improve your brain power by learning something new and challenging your brain. Build and make new brain connections through neuroplasticity or brain plasticity. Researchers continue to uncover more amazing discoveries about the brain and its ability to form new neural or learning pathways. Remember, memory loss with decreased brain function does not have to be a part of the normal aging process! We are never too young to begin building our cognitive reserve or too old for new learning! It’s all about introducing and learning new things. If you have never tried anagrams, scrambled words, crossword puzzles, or other word games than these are great starters to try as you commit to exercise your brain.
Of course, how can I not discuss the benefits of a healthy diet? There are numerous health benefits by just avoiding processed foods. Processed foods contain preservatives and hidden salt, neither provide health benefits but rather can increase blood pressure and increase your risk for certain cancers and other diseases. Instead, take advantage of other spices that have health benefits. Try using garlic, rosemary, basil, oregano, turmeric, paprika, black pepper, cinnamon, thyme, ginger, red peppers, cloves, coriander, and white pepper. Did you know that some of the most delicious foods have health benefits? Add these to your diet-dark chocolate, walnuts, almonds, blueberries, strawberries, greek yogurt, Alaskan or Pacific salmon, cashews, oats, apples, bananas, cranberries, broccoli, avocados, olive oil-preferably first cold pressed, artichokes, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, leafy green vegetables. I’m sure most of us should increase our consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as nuts. By consuming fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, lean meats, healthy fats, and dairy we also increase our intake of vitamins and minerals essential for health.
Why not schedule a well check up with your physician? Discuss your diet-honestly, and review your vitamins and supplements as well. Have some labs run-how is your vitamin D, what about your B vitamins? Lots to do as you become your own health advocate and take control of your health!
Let’s discuss beverages. Do you drink enough water? Water is essential to keep our bodies and brains functioning properly. After you’ve consumed your water, try some green, white, or black tea and/or coffee. All of these have documented health benefits, and decaf is fine if you need to limit your caffeine intake. An excellent goal for 2011 could be to decrease and then eliminate your consumption of soda! There are no nutritional benefits and research is now indicating that diet soda may be more harmful than regular. That brings us back to water, tea, coffee, juice that’s 100% juice without any added sugar, and milk.
I believe I’ve outlined several good goals to get you started for 2011. Now it’s up to you to adapt these goals to make them yours. Make 2011- Your Year of Health and Wellness! I wish you a year of good health, wealth, and happiness!