Point Break
Nine health resolutions you can actually keep

By Marilynn Preston

Don’t you just love resolutions?

The beginning of the year is the traditional time to take stock, look ahead and figure out what you want to do differently.

That means most of us will make a vague declaration to “get healthy,” “lose weight” or “eat better” in 2006.

Don’t fall into that trap. You need to determine what a healthier lifestyle looks like for you. Surely it’s more than 365 days of salads or 30 minutes a day on the treadmill.
Set small, realistic, specific goals. For example, if you’re planning to lose 20 pounds in the next two months, forget it.

However, you can definitely benefit from the following ready-made fitness resolutions:

1. Stretch and flex.

As you age, muscles get tighter. If you don’t make an effort to extend them through their entire range of motion, you will, over time, increase your chances of getting locked up, hunched over and sore.

You don’t have to become a yoga master. Simple stretching five to 10 minutes a day can deliver profound results.

Grab a moment to stretch at your desk, in your car and even in front of the TV.

2. Enjoy exercise.

A lot of Triangle residents have resolved to exercise more…and a lot of them will fail. They get bored, don’t find the time, get injured.

This year, promise to have a good time with physical activities instead.

Walk with a friend. Take a dance class. Join an adult soccer league. Do whatever it is you love.

Life is too short to spend it miserably climbing a stair machine.

3. Eat with awareness.

If you’re going to make just one change in your eating plan for 2006, let it be a mental one.

Take time to be aware of and enjoy what you’re eating.

Keep a food journal and simply write down the food and drinks you consume in a day. Pay attention to the amounts.

Don’t judge or censor yourself. Write down the candy bars, the big burgers, the beers.

ccount for every bite and every sip for 10 days.

Then, review the list.

Diets don’t work, but finding out how much you actually eat in a day may shock you into better habits.

You’ll realize that you are in charge. You can choose lean, green, clean meals. Or, you can choose junk.

4. Dine slowly.

Don’t rush through a meal. Savor every bite.

Also, avoid having lunch at your desk or dinner in front of the tube.

You will be more aware of what you’re stuffing in your mouth if you have no distractions.

5. Breathe.

Everyone knows we need air to stay alive.

However, you can use your breath to relax and unwind, too.

The best part: You can do it almost anywhere.

Make 2006 the year you find the connection between body and mind.

6. Give your kitchen an extreme makeover.

If the cupboards and fridge are filled with junk food, you’ll eat junk food.
Start with a clean slate.

Restock the kitchen with foods that will make you feel good: veggies, fruit, lean meats, whole-grain products and low-fat dairy items.

7. Step it up.

Always take the stairs.

When faced with the choice of stairs or elevator, walk to the floor you want, or at least five or six levels toward it.

This simple, everyday action can get your legs working and your heart pumping.

8. Keep a fitness journal.

Take a few minutes at the end of the day to jot down what you do, when you do it and how you feel.

Putting your experiences in writing can help you stay focused on your fitness goal. Every entry reinforces healthy behavior.

Plus, the record will tell you how far you’ve come and can keep you motivated.

9. Get everyone involved.

You don’t have to take time away from your family to exercise. Develop relationships with your loved ones by doing healthy, fun activities together.

In the evening, turn off the TV. Go outside and take a walk. On the weekend, get out of bed. Grab the bikes or stroll through a museum.