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I know this a long post, but it contains some excellent information. I would recommend printing it and reading it at your leisure; maybe put it on your refrigerator or a message board in your home as a reminder. Remember, building a solid foundation is essential to your success.

This year you can succeed at being healthier. Just follow these small changes, one month at a time

Here’s the first thing to remember about living a healthier 2007. You’ve got the entire year to establish new, positive habits. It doesn’t all have to be accomplished in January or even before the swimsuit season.

“Everything happens in small changes,” says Gregory Florez, CEO and president of First Fitness, a personal training company based in Salt Lake City. “Most people fail on their diet and exercise goals by looking too far ahead.”

That’s why your best strategy for a healthy and happy New Year is to take it one month at a time. If you figure on establishing one positive habit each month, by Dec. 31, 2007, you will benefit from a dozen upgrades to your personal health. The result will be energizing on both the physical and mental levels.

“The first thing I tell clients is to start where you are,” says Florez, whose company works extensively with companies, plus operates the Web site. “Don’t worry about how out of shape you might be. Commit to doing something different this month and you will feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the 30 days.”

So, the idea is think small (changes) for big dividends. Let’s go through 12 healthy habits you can adopt for 2007. You can mix up the order if one habit resonates more than another, though, it will work out best if you keep the January habit in place as your starting point. Also, visit our message board to tell us about small changes that have produced big results for you.


New habit: Formulate clear diet and fitness goals. For eating, work on a one-week plan for meals. For fitness, schedule your workouts three weeks out to avoid other commitments canceling your good intentions.

The skinny: University of Rhode Island psychologist James O. Prochaska has conducted landmark studies that show it takes us three weeks or 21 days to establish new habits. We need that time to develop a routine and get into a mindset.

For his part, personal trainer Florez says his successful clients share the common trait of making the time to eat right and to exercise. “You can begin with 10-minute walks at lunch, that’s OK,” he says. “The important point is formalizing the process of planning your fitness time.”

Action steps: Florez recommends coming up with a menu for the week and selecting one day every week to shop at the supermarket for supplies. The idea is to create a menu that you follow for most meals and snacks. The most critical areas? Having healthy items for breakfast (see April’s habit for more details) and stocking up on nutritious snacks for work, school, the car and other times you’re on the go.

On the fitness side, for the next 21 days, make two to three standing appointments with yourself each week for physical activity. As the 21 days draw to a close, then update your schedule again.

Be realistic about if you can commit to a short walk or 90-minute gym session. But make it your January priority to plan this time for yourself and carry out the docket.

“Schedule that time and then protect it,” says Florez. “Treat your physical activity plans and workouts with the same diligence as a parent-teacher conference, meeting with a superior at work or running a volunteer organization meeting. Don’t put yourself last.”


New habit: Switch to unrefined sea salt to replace table salt.

The skinny: Julie Burns is a Chicago-based nutritionist who works with clients ranging from the Chicago Bears football team to working moms. When asked about the most important small changes a person could make in 2007, her first answer was salt.

“Unrefined sea salt has about 80 trace minerals, many of which we all have in short supply in our bodies,” says Burns. “Table salt is too acidic to be healthy. Unrefined sea salt is a real food and a huge plus in the diet. I always carry my own with me. That’s how strongly I feel about it.”

Action steps: Look for unrefined sea salt. Not all sea salt products qualify. Burns suggests the brands Celtic and Redmond, which are both available online or at many health food stores.

Replace all table salt in your shakers and pantries with unrefined sea salt. Look for a portable shaker you can take with you when you’re away from home. Feel free to use unrefined sea salt more liberally than table salt. Experiment with it in recipes


New habit: Wake up at the same time each day, weekends included.

The skinny: Most sleep researchers agree that wakeup time is the most pivotal factor in improving sleep quality. This habit regulates the body’s biological clock without any additional effort—though not sleeping in on the weekends can seem like a difficult task.

The American Academy of family Physicians has developed a list of ideas for improving your sleep. Waking up at the same time every day is at the top of that list. The academy emphasizes that this habit should be followed even on those nights you didn’t get enough sleep. The idea is this routine eventually trains the body to sleep at night. It might not do wonders for your social life, but, then again, maybe it will if you are better rested and feel happier. Check out October for more sleep advice.

Action steps: Pick the best wakeup time that works for all seven days, factoring in an extra 15 minutes that will allow you to ease into your day. The additional minutes can change the pace and feeling of the whole day ahead. On weekends, you might even come to relish the morning quiet time.

Use an alarm if necessary. An alternative to the alarm clock: As you go to bed, think about what time you want to wake up the next morning. Some people when they do this report waking up just minutes before the alarm rings. Others insist this no-alarm wakeup approach works better if you drink a glass of water before hitting the sack.

Be sure to give this regular wakeup time routine the full three weeks to become habit.


New habit: Step 1--eat breakfast. Step 2--make sure the breakfast includes a good protein source and some healthy fats.

The skinny: Research is clear that eating breakfast improves morning cognitive skills. That should be reason enough to make sure you get a breakfast for the next 21 days this month to make this morning meal a habit.

But perhaps even better yet, nutritionist Julie Burns says the right sort of breakfast can also help the body burn fat more consistently and keep the weight off. One study shows non-breakfast eaters are more than four times likely to be obese than breakfast eaters.

Action steps: Shoot for at least 300 to 400 calories if you tend to not be a breakfast eater. Add proteins, such as eggs, organic breakfast meats and turkey bacon. One idea is a smoothie made from milk, whey protein, fruit and a couple of ice cubes. Burns says adding a handful of walnuts or almonds to your oatmeal will control appetite and keep your blood sugar on an even keel.

Develop some standbys for your more challenging morning situations, such as what you can make at home for a fast meal before rushing out the door. Hard-boiled eggs are good items to prepare the night before and pair nicely with a piece of fruit. Smoothies can become your car drink, with or without the espresso shot added. Also, pick a route to work where you can grab a healthy breakfast to-go, if that fits with your morning M.O.


New habit: Clean out the snack drawers at home and work.

The skinny: Gregory Florez is a personal trainer by profession. But he preaches this nutrition habit to every client. Just becoming more aware of our snack habits is healthy. Florez doesn’t say kick out all favorite foods as much as put more healthy choices in that snack drawer.

“Snacks can still be fun,” he says.

Action steps: If in doubt about the nutritional value of a snack item, toss it. The best items for snacks: trail mix; almonds; walnuts; dried fruit; high-protein/low-fat/low-sugar energy bars; and beef/turkey/salmon jerky.

When grabbing dried fruit or nuts, keep it to a handful apiece. And always drink at least 8 ounces of water at snack time, preferably about 15 minutes before the snack to curb “hunger” that is really more about thirst.


New habit: Drink at least one cup of green tea each day.

The skinny: Research is mostly positive about this gentle but still caffeinated beverage, ranging from its anti-cancer protective effects to heart benefits. Nutritionist Julie Burns is a big fan for many reasons.

“It has an abundant amount of antioxidants [to protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease] but also is found increase your metabolic rate to burn more fat,” says Burns, who has converted more than one Chicago Bears player to sip green tea during team meetings. “Green tea also has the amino acid thiamine, which is a natural relaxant. I am in favor of anything that can calm down people. The effects of just one cup of green tea each day can be huge.”

Action steps: A simple list of options. Drink a cup in the morning if you prefer. Replace your afternoon coffee with green tea. If you want more than one cup, Susan Kleiner, a Seattle nutritionist and co-author of the new book The Good Mood Diet, says up to five cups of green tea is healthy if you still want a morning espresso drink (two shots maximum). Or you can go for up to seven cups daily if you swear off coffee altogether.


New habit: Double your current intake of fruits and vegetables.

The skinny: Nutritionist Elizabeth Somer includes this habit suggestion in her book Age-Proof Your Body as “the most important diet habit you can adopt to slow, stop, even reverse the aging process.”

Somer urges her reader to go for deep pigment in their produce. “More than 12,000 antioxidant compounds have been identified in colorful produce,” she writes. “Many of these compounds also prevent the inflammation that underlies many diseases from heart disease to Alzheimer’s.”

For example, as Somer points out, a recent study from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found that seniors who ate the most colorful produce maintained better memories as they got older.

Action steps: July is prime time for farmers markets, so you can double your veggie intake simply by cruising the local stands. Somer has some specific advice: Skip the potatoes, iceberg lettuce and apple juice. Replace with a sweet potato, a salad made with romaine lettuce and a glass of orange juice or low-sodium V8. Add some raw broccoli to your salads. Steam extra veggies and munch on them as a cold snack the next day (green beans are especially good for this purpose). Add vegetables to your omelets. Dice apples into your oatmeal. Buy plain yogurt and add your own berries (even frozen when out of season). Eat double servings of veggies (usually a cup instead of a half-cup) whenever possible; make it routine.


New habit: Work on an important relationship.

The skinny: Psychology researchers have discovered the most people are happy or not happy for reasons beyond their income levels. Researcher David Myers at Hope College in Michigan said the typical American is happy when engaged in “close, supportive relationships.” That includes marriages and friendships.

Action steps: Concentrate on the positives and work to avoid negative interactions. University of Washington marriage researcher John Gottman, for instance, says that every negative action or comment in a relationship requires five positive actions to offset the emotional damage. Make it a point in the next 21 days to stick to the positive in one targeted relationship. If that goes well, you can always repeat the process with another relationship next month.


New habit: Wear casual clothes whenever possible.

The skinny: No, this is not a joke. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse conducted a study for the American Council on Exercise that showed wearing jeans and other casual clothing to work resulted in an 8 percent increase in physical activity and nearly 500 more steps compared to more formal attire days. Those casual Fridays—and Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays—translated to an extra 25 calories burned per day, too.

If that seems frivolous, consider the extrapolation from the UW-La Crosse exercise scientist Katie L. Zahour and her colleagues: “Wearing casual clothing every day for 50 weeks of work translates into burning an additional 125 calories per week and 6,250 calories per year. Considering you must burn 3,500 calories to lose one pound, the added activity from casual clothing workdays could potentially offset the average weight gain experienced by Americans of 0.4 to 1.8 pounds annually.”

Action steps: Make sure whatever clothes you wear most days are comfortable and conducive to movement. You might also look for ways to add steps to your day, such as getting up to ask questions of co-workers rather than e-mailing or scheduling active get-togethers with friends rather than sharing a meal. The truly step-serious would do well to invest in a pedometer (you can get a good one for as little as $20). If you can work up to 10,000 steps daily, you will be doing yourself a healthy turn. The typical American logs about 6,000 steps per day and sedentary individuals record about 3,000 steps.


New habit: Make your bedroom and bedtime routine sleep-friendly.

The skinny: Too many of us have let our daily lives take over our night hours, too. Statistics show a majority of Americans have televisions in their bedrooms, and a good number of people e-mail from under the comforter (you know who you are). For the record, studies now show kids with TVs in their bedrooms run a higher risk of obesity and score lower on standardized academic tests. Seems like those same effects would carry over to us adults, too.

Action steps: Here are is a sleep-friendly makeover plan for your bedroom, compliments of the American Academy of Family Physicians:

Use the bedroom only for sleeping or having sex (both are healthy, those good docs say). Don't eat, talk on the phone or watch TV while you're in bed.
Develop a bedtime routine. Do the same thing every night before going to sleep. For example, take a warm bath and then read for 10 minutes every night before going to bed. Soon you'll connect these activities with sleeping, and doing them will help make you sleepy.
Make sure your bedroom is quiet and dark. If noise is a problem, use a fan to mask the noise or use ear plugs. If you must sleep during the day, hang dark blinds over the windows or wear an eye mask.


New habit: Resist the breadbasket.

The skinny: When you are home eating dinner, do you serve the bread first and everything else after that? Probably not. But it is a common restaurant practice because it gets some sort of food on the table quickly. Problem is, we often fill up on the bread and miss out on the featured foods—along with the right balance of proteins, complex carbs and healthy fats.

Tim Grover, who trained Michael Jordan during the Chicago Bulls basketball glory years and now supervises the conditioning programs of about three dozen National Basketball Association players, tells all of his clients to send the breadbasket back to the kitchen.

Action steps: Don’t automatically reach for the bread while dining out. Wait for the proteins and complex carbohydrates to appear, and make it habit to dip your bread in olive oil for the healthy fats boost. You might also be more discerning about the bread offered: Eat the great ones but pass on mediocre loaves. Consider bread interchangeable with a serving of pasta or mashed potatoes and choose accordingly.


New habit: Be accountable to someone for your physical activity.

The skinny: Gregory Florez says that one reason why personal trainers have succeeded in this country is because people feel accountable to their investment and the person who is training them. The reputable trainers—and Florez is one of them—visualize working with clients for an introductory timeframe, then expect that client to become self-motivated. In fact, a competent trainer who feels a client is not sufficiently motivated, say, after six months, might even resign from the trainer role.

The X Gym in Seattle takes it one step further as a business model. If gym members don’t show up consistently for training, they will be asked to stop paying dues and lose active membership. The gym’s concept is that motivated people have superior results and the word of mouth about the training business is enhanced with those success stories.

James Prochaska, the University of Rhode Island psychologist who has developed a widely admired six-stages of behavioral change model, says that telling someone about your intentions for diet or exercise is critical to success. “You make it public,” he says. “It shifts the way you think about it, then act on it. You feel more attached to the change.”

Action steps: Florez suggests each exerciser creates “some type of accountability” in the form of friends, workout partners, personal trainers or “even the dog” that accompanies you on walks or runs.

“Don’t judge yourself or be negative about your capacity,” says Florez. “Finding a person to whom you are accountable is often the step that makes all the difference to some of our clients.”

Florez has one more tip, no matter which habit or month you are in.

“You will fall off track on establishing a new healthy habit,” says Florez. “The most important thing is don’t try to analyze it or get frustrated with yourself. Just get back to the positive habit the next day.”

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70 pounds down!!!

Leader of Chronic Pain~Mind Over Matter~
Co-Leader SP Class Jan.13-19, 2008
Co-Leader SP Class
July 6-12, 2008
May you start the day with PEACE and live it with HOPE
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«´¨ *Elle* ¨`»
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