March to A Different Beat - And Better Health

by Lainey Millen


Saturday January 9, 2016

It's that time of the year when everyone makes plans for what they will do to make this the best one yet. Only apathy, or its cousin laziness, comes to roost, derailing every good intention.

How many times have you started out with a health regimen and let it fall by the wayside when it got tough? And, how often have you gotten into an exercise plan, just to give up because your motivation wanes?

We've all been there. We start out a new year with all good intentions. We want to be "happy, healthy, wealthy and wise." It's great to set goals, but make sure that they are measurable and attainable. Don't set yourself up for failure from the get-go.

So, let's explore some ways to be more successful, relative to those proverbial resolutions, and come out a winner.

You Are What You Eat

First, your diet is a place to start. I've been seeing a nutritionist for awhile now and have gotten some really good tips on how to eat well, while not having to do it to the point of frustration. It only takes a few changes to find yourself feeling better and fueling your body for the days ahead.

How many sodas do you consume? The soft drink industry is making a killing on your addiction to these bottled poisons. Most of them are sugary and contain all sorts of chemicals.

The body needs, and I underscore needs, water in order to function. Our health and wellness guru, Jack Kirven, can certainly speak to this from a professional standpoint, but I can tell you that swapping sodas for water is essential. Purchase a filtered water pitcher and keep cold water in the refrigerator all the time. Get used to having eight glasses of it a day. It will flush out toxins that are stored up in your body, and it will give your organs and body systems the necessary hydration they need to function effectively. Now, that does not mean you have to stick solely to water. You can have a soda occasionally, but once you get on the water kick, you won't even like sodas anymore and will find them to be too sweet. You'll find that they make you more thirsty and you'll probably crash from a sugar high. For me, it just does not feel good.

Now, let's talk about food and substitutions. Change out white rice with brown rice and make sure you use whole grains instead of enriched products.

My nutritionist showed me a printed plate in her office that shows you how much to have of each food group for each meal. She says that Americans think that they have to have half of their plate filled with a protein and that is not right. We can do well with four ounces, coupled with a quarter of the plate filled with a whole grain and the other half of the plate filled with equal helpings of vegetables and fruit. Eat what's there and don't go back for seconds. Oh, and be sure to have some dairy unless you are lactose intolerant. For a snack, eat some fruit and some cheese or a handful of nuts like plain almonds to help balance the sugar intake of the fruit.

Not only does this help with proper nutrition, but you'll notice unnecessary weight slowly slough off. But, don't eat while driving or riding in a car, walking, doing projects, etc. Have meals while sitting down. It aids in better digestion. You'll get more food in you than on you if you do this!

But, by all means, do not live on fast food. It's another way to poison yourself. I got off all of it and when I do try to eat it, I often feel a bit sick. If you do have to eat fast food, do so thoughtfully.

One, Two, Three, Four, Get Yourself Out the Door

Next, let's explore the monster called exercise. We all go out and join a gym. We maybe even go a few times and then stop. It's typical. Instead of going to a facility to get moving, why not simply walk? It does not cost anything and it is one of the most healthy ways to get yourself fit.

My doctor has me doing this and it makes me feel so much better. Besides, in the winter, it helps to offset those winter blues and charges brain chemistry. I can certainly attest to this myself. Most importantly, get out in the sunlight. It provides you with vitamin D which is important to maintain a healthy body. Sunlight is an essential component of fending off S.A.D. - seasonal affective disorder. Feel sad, then get glad with some fresh air and sunshine.

Instead of driving everywhere, try using public transportation. That is one way to get some steps into your day. You will be "forced" to walk from one bus stop to another or to your destination. Be part of the 10,000-steps-a-day nation. Get an inexpensive pedometer to count them. I have one and am amazed at how the gizmo works and shows me how well I am doing each day.

Go Out and Play

If you have some time to spare, then find a group of friends and get out of town for the day to break your routine. Go hiking, explore a historical site, gaze at nature or go berry picking or gleaning. Better yet, visit someone who is isolated and alone. It's a great way to connect in countless ways to the world around you.

Now, we remember when we were kids and how much fun we had, right? So, why not head out to the playground and swing? Or, skip or jump rope? Or, sing (even if you make dogs howl!). Even better yet, find that inner creative source and dabble in drawing, painting or doodling or any kind of hobby. Feeling youthful adds to the benefits of life. It energizes us all. Chase away the "bah, humbug" and replace it with optimism. Positive thinking is just plain good for the soul and for the world at large. Also, hugs are free! Give and get them often. Researchers say that human touch is essential for us psychologically. It gives us a sense of well being and connectedness. This also applies to our furry friends. Spend time with them, too. They are replete with unconditional love.

Earth to Jane

I know that I'm going to get all sorts of flack on this one, but I have to say it. Unplug every day for awhile from your gadgets. I am amazed at how many people are constantly staring into a phone or tablet. Spend some time actually looking at people and having a real conversation with them. We're losing our ability to do so and that is not good. Nothing ever replaces true human contact and direct conversation. I don't know about you, but I can't text that fast and the intention is totally lost in translation no matter how many exclamation marks or emoticons are used.

Conflict Resolution

One of the biggest things you can do is find some resolve with someone with whom you have quarreled. The old adage of not going to bed angry is well founded. Understanding and forgiveness can help bring peace to our chaotic planet.

Maintain Mental Acuity

I've never been a voracious reader, but I'm finding that reading helps to make me sharper. It activates brain processing, and that is a good thing. As we age, our ability to comprehend and remember wanes. We all require activity to stay fresh. This one is low tech and can even be low cost, as well. I have a tablet and find a wealth of free or super cheap books to add to my library. I'm a "whodunit" freak. It gets those reasoning skills clicking, very good for someone who writes for a living! Also, puzzle games can add benefit, too. More of that brain stimulation we all need to stay sharp.

'Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep...'

I am a night owl. I always have been. However, it does not matter when your "night" occurs; it does matter that you get enough sleep and rest so that you can be keen during your day.

For me, and most everyone I know, getting too little makes me lethargic, unable to process even the simplest concept. I am also more congenial when I get my proper rest. Remember that babies have to get their naps in so they are not cranky. Same principle applies to us, too. How often do you snap at someone simply because you are feeling tired? Now, get to sleep! (Oy! I sound like my Momma!)

If you have trouble falling asleep, then try listening to soft music to slow down your mind. Or, simply be still. Meditate or pray. If that does not work, get up and do something for a short period and then try the sleep thing again. At least you are productive when you can not sleep.

Community Connection

Buff Faye shared the practice of random acts of kindness in our last issue. That is one way to better the world around us, in addition to giving yourself more self esteem and providing a way to pay it forward. It also makes you appreciate what you have and the gifts that you have been given. There are so many non-profits in our LGBT community that can always need a extra set of hands for many worthwhile projects. Volunteer for one of them. It will be so worth it and welcomed.

Get in Step

So, there you have it. Make an achievable plan. Eat right. Get plenty of rest. Exercise. Give back. Stimulate your mind. Connect. But most of all, find ways to make "our world" a stronger, healthier one. That's my take. What's yours?

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