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12 Changes in 12 Months
(Part 1 of 2)

Make a List

I've never been good at making grand sweeping changes in my life. Like most people, I hang on tight to familiar things, even when they're hurting me. The only way I've been able to better myself is by taking it one small step at a time.

This is the first of a 2-part article where I'm going to share twelve simple things you can do, one each month, to make major improvements in your health and your life. Remember, don't change everything at once. Use these ideas and learn how to replace bad habits with good ones, one at a time.

Month 1  Start by taking an inventory of your current physical condition. How much do you weigh? How big around is your waist, stomach or arms? What ailments do you suffer from? Make a list of the illnesses that your parents, grandparents or siblings suffer (or have died) from. If you haven't seen a doctor for a physical in over a year, make an appointment. Knowing what you're dealing with is the first step to taking care of it.

Month 2  Give up television for 2 weeks. That's right, completely give it up. According to Nielsen Media Research, the average American watches 2 MONTHS of TV a year. The simple act of turning it off will give you more than 25 extra hours a WEEK. That's plenty of time to start walking, running, dancing, swimming or getting involved in something other than sitting. It also means you'll probably eat less because you won't constantly be stuffing yourself while you're watching reruns. At the end of the two weeks, make a plan about what you really want to watch instead of mindlessly surfing.

Month 3  Take a 12-minute challenge. Choose any form of cardio exercise you want and DO IT for 12 minutes straight, at least 4 days a week. Keep it up for 30 days. At the end of a month, pick a new cardio exercise and start again. See if you can work up to 1.5 hours of cardio each week, every week.

Month 4  Make lunch a time to refresh and recharge. Walk up and down your office stairs for a few minutes before you eat. It'll burn off some calories and remind you to make healthier food choices. Lay out a mat and stretch to relieve your tension. Relaxed people can concentrate better and tend to get more work done. When the sun is shining, go outside and bask in it a little while. Natural sunlight is an anti-depressant and exposure to it can help insomniacs sleep better at night. None of these things take more than 10-15 minutes, but they can make profound differences in your attitude and enthusiasm the second half of the day.

Month 5  Speaking of sleep, go to bed an hour early for a month. To help clear your mind, before you turn in make a list of what you need to do the next day. Lay the clothes out you're going to wear and decide what you'll eat for breakfast. Turn the TV off and read a good book to unwind. In the morning, you won't have to keep hitting the snooze button because you'll be more rested. By planning your breakfast and laying your clothes out, you won't have as many decisions to make while you're still waking up. Then when you head off to work, you'll be relaxed, well-fed and prepared for the day.

Now you don't have any more excuses. If you're wondering what you should do first, it doesn't matter. Just choose one and get started. Click here for several more ideas for the second half of your year.

Part 2

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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.