Green Your Life interior

Look Ahead To A Healthier You

jogging_parkBy Deirdre Imus, 12-29-14. The end of any year is somewhat predictable: holidays, family, food, vacations, presents, snow, cold, celebrations, lists of the year’s best this and worst that. It’s a time for reflection, and rightly so: nothing marks the passage of time quite like a new year. But it’s also the perfect moment to look ahead, and think about the future.  What realistic goals can you set for 2015?
 
Rather than vaguely resolving to exercise more, eat healthier, or be a better person, get specific with yourself. It’s easy to say you’ll do something life-changing, but a far more challenging task to actually do it.  But committing to something and seeing it through to the end can feel almost as rewarding as the deed itself. 
 
You know you should exercise more, but you just don’t do it. You’re tired after work, tired before work, tired from the kids, tired from your commute. There are a million reasons not to push yourself to the gym, or out the door for a run. The pressure you feel to get in shape can be so overwhelming that it literally paralyzes you. On your couch. In front of the television.
 
The benefits of exercise are exhaustive, and are only becoming more obvious as time goes by. You may know it can combat heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In 2014 alone there were studies showing that exercise can improve symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder; decrease your chances of getting Parkinson’s Disease; protect against osteoarthritis; increase brain function; reduce depression risk; and much more. 
 
There are literally dozens of reasons to start exercising, and only one reason not to: you. 
 
Start slow. Commit to one day a week, maybe for just 30 minutes; research has shown that might be the magic number to reap the noted benefits. Slowly work your way up to 2 days, then 3, maybe for 45 minutes each. Soon it will be part of your routine, just like sitting on the couch used to be. 
 
When it comes to diet, one simple, easy step can make a world of difference: eat green! Consume at least one serving of something green every day, like healthy baby greens, spinach, kale, broccoli, all organic of course. Make yourself a smoothie or shake with a green superfood powder, and a splash of pomegranate juice (that’s what I do!). This one simple step can have lasting positive effects, like lowered blood pressure, boosted immunity, and clearer skin.
 
Try as we might to get all the nutrients we need from food sources, one vitamin in particular remains somewhat elusive – and it might just be the most important one. Low levels of vitamin D have been connected to a range of health conditions, notably dementia, prostate cancer, autism, and heart disease. It is present in some foods, but in quantities too small to attain the desired health effects. It is best acquired through direct sunlight exposure on the skin, but this can be difficult for most people in modern society to achieve. 
 
The best way to get the vitamin D you need is through supplements, specifically vitamin D3 (that’s the kind we get from the sun).  Talk to your doctor about testing your vitamin D levels, and then figure out the best supplementation dosage for you. Then tell your loved ones about it, and tell them to get tested too!  Learn more about how vitamin D relates to your health here
 
We’ve talked a lot about how to make the physical you better – but what about the emotional, mushy-gushy you? Saying you want to be a better person and actually becoming one are two very different things. One of the most fulfilling ways I’ve found to accomplish this is by helping other people – and I know I’m not alone.
 
Recently, a friend of mine was looking for ways to give back to others but was unsure of the best route to take. She’s a hairstylist, and wanted to harness her skills in a way that would be meaningful to others. It dawned on her that hair – or lack thereof – is particularly relevant to countless women battling various kinds of cancer. She contacted a local cancer center, and they were thrilled by her generous and thoughtful offer to help style wigs for women who have lost their hair as a result of chemotherapy treatments. She’s now working with this center to set up a workshop for these women, so that they may feel just a little bit more normal during one of the most trying times in their lives.  
 
Take some time to consider your strengths, and how others might benefit from them. That thing that sets you apart might just be what connects you most to other people. And then not only are you better off, but so are they – and so are we all.
 
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Note: Information provided herein is not intended to treat or diagnose any health condition.  As always, consult your healthcare provider with any questions or health concerns.
 
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