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HEALTHY HABITS FOR THE NEW YEAR...AND BEYOND

Do you make the same resolutions, year after year?  Lose weight, eat less junk food, get in shape -- they top many lists of New Year's resolutions. But sticking with those good intentions is simply not that easy.

The problem? Most of us have unrealistic expectations. We decide THIS IS THE YEAR we're going to completely change everything about our lifestyle. And that's just too hard to do, so we get discouraged and depressed and give up altogether -- until next Jan 1.

The answer? Baby steps. Small changes in diet and exercise have a cumulative effect and will get your to your goals easier, faster, and safer. Everyone's body and metabolism are different, so get tuned into what works best for you. Adjust and experiment as you go. Here are some of our best tips for helping you live better, smarter, and healthier.

  1. Eat More. We're huge fans of anything that starts out with "eat more!" Eat more…fresh fruits and vegetables, probiotic foods, omega-3 fish, beans and legumes, sweet potatoes, whole grains, healthy fats such as cold-pressed olive or safflower oils, and nuts.
  2. Drink More. Along with the healthier foods, shape up your beverages. Increase your intake of water, unsweetened coffee and teas (black, green, or herbal), lower-fat dairy, and red wine (in moderation).
  3. Take More Steps. Walking is one of the best exercises you can do, both for your body and mind. Fit in extra steps wherever you can -- even 10 minutes extra walking every day will lead to significant changes. Get off the elevator one floor early and walk up the stairs. Park in the furthest row in the parking lot. Take your pooch for an extra lap around the block. Get an inexpensive pedometer and work up to 10,000 steps a day.
  4. Clear Your Mind Daily. Just as clutter in your home affects your daily life, so does clutter in your mind. Establish a practice of meditation, or mindfulness. You don't need to set aside a huge chunk of time, either. Spend 5 - 10 minutes each day (whatever time of the day works best for you), sit quietly, and focus on your breathing. In - Out - In - Out. If you respond better to guidance, there are many short meditations available online or as phone apps. Play around until you find a rhythm you feel comfortable with.
  5. Take Care of Yourself. Take time to honor your body's need for downtime. A healing massage, cleansing facial, or just a leisurely soak in a warm bath with some lavender essential oil may be just what you need. Beyond relaxation, there are tremendous health benefits to massage, and a regular facial will improve your skin's condition.
  6. Quit Smoking. Quitting smoking is absolutely, hands-down, the best thing you can do for your overall health and well-being. If you do nothing else this year, give your loved ones and yourself the gift of becoming a non-smoker. Your body will thank you for years to come.

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