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  • Assess your health, your strengths, as well as your problems and bad habits, and look for (ask yourself and take time to listen) the causes or basis of each concern. What are your issues? It’s best to ask for this deeper information and healing in your quiet, meditative place or before sleep to ask your dream imagery to come forth. (Review my Staying Healthy Tips on The Nature of Healing.) This is a time to work on solutions.

    Make a list of your goals. What are you willing to work on, work out, and achieve? Do you need to lose weight; have more energy; or find a new doctor/practitioner to help you resolve a problem or illness? Or would a therapist or intuitive be more helpful? For example, you could assess your teeth in January, schedule a Thai massage and an acupuncture or chiropractic session in February, and a five-day health retreat in March. First assess your health budget and see what is covered by insurance if you have it, but also look at what you are willing or able to invest into the health of you and your loved ones.

    Review your SNACC habits (sugar, nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, and chemicals). These are common substances that undermine most people’s health, and dealing with them is often the beginning of life improvement. Clearing the daily use (even temporarily) of these habits/abuses/ addictions that takes your vitality is often my first step in the Purification Process (see my book, The New Detox Diet). January is a perfect month to take a vacation from these habits. You may also choose two or three habits to get started. Rather than attempting too much at once, do what you know you can. Step by step still gets you along the health path.

    Next, look at your food habits and what you may be overusing that stresses your body and causes reactions.Is it breads and baked goods, refined sugars, or a dependency on drinking cow’s milk or eating cheese? You may not be able to tell this unless you take a break and re-check your response again later. Most of us aren’t fully aware of how specific foods or meals effect us, but we know when we don’t feel fully alive or well, or maybe we want to digest better or reduce some aches and pains or sinus congestion, or just lose a few pounds. Here then, the ideas of The False Fat Diet book can guide you in this important process. A reminder is that this process is more difficult with a stress-filled schedule; thus, you may need to carve out some time both physically and mentally. I like starting my program on a Friday to have the weekend to adjust to the new plan.

    Exercise your body, keep it moving! Just because it’s winter, don’t get lazy. Get your activity, but get your rest and sleep as well. Stretch that body and don’t let it get old, get it pumping, and tone those muscles. Cleanse and brush your skin daily as well. Inner clean creates outer sheen. Stay fit and stay healthy.

    Do some positive therapies. There are many that can be of help, such as massage and other body therapies; acupuncture, counseling, or a personal reading for guidance. Sometimes merely a walk and talk in the trees with a good friend is all you need to set things right. Try something new or go back to something you liked. New experiences are helpful to growth and healing.

    What is your spiritual practice? This may be prayer, religious studies, or meditation. We all come from different backgrounds and beliefs. Our reverence for life, our own and others, is the basic premise for a spiritual life. Treating our body as a temple of Living Spirit provides a motivation to treat ourselves as special and thus feed and care for ourselves in a loving and healthful way. It’s the base and the beginning of a healthy life.

    Your career or work is often a core area for your well-being. Are you doing something that is important to you? Do you have a plan for life? Some jobs are what you wish for, others are on the way to somewhere else, and still others are there just to support you and your family. These are all important reasons. If you are not pleased with what you are doing, ask why and what can be done differently. Do you need to review this with a professional counselor? Do you need more education and training? Or will a shift in attitude help you to feel better about your work?

    What can you complete this year?What’s been on your mind or sitting around your house? Make a list of a few or more areas that could use some of your valuable energy. (Add these to your list of goals.) This may involve old health habits, a messy room to clean up or rearrange, stuck areas in a relationship, or letting go of old patterns at work. Don’t be afraid to go for it this year.

    Make your resolutions and commitments. Begin by looking at the key areas of your life. Health and personal habits, love and relationships, and career or work. And if LOVE moves into all those areas, that’s all the better as you’ll care for yourself and your life, plus your relationships in a positive way. Make more room for love to fill your daily life, and let it be the higher Love. Human love is temporal for many, yet love in the Spirit is everlasting. We are all blessed to share this garden, this Earth, which needs our love and protection. We must take the time to nurture nature, to nourish and flourish.

  • The New Year is right around the corner, and you know what that means: time for New Year’s resolutions. According to the United States government,1 five of the top ten New Year’s resolutions are:

    1. Lose Weight
    2. Get a Better Education
    3. Get Fit
    4. Eat Healthy Food
    5. Manage Stress

    Of course it’s easy to make resolutions, but hard to keep them. So what can you do to make it easier? While there is no substitute for willpower and commitment, this article will review some nutraceuticals which may actually help you be more effective at adhering to these five resolutions.

  • For the past two decades, fitness experts have been telling us that to get the benefits of exercise you had to do aerobics. And you had to work out hard. There was even a way to calculate whether your exercise was hard enough to do any good: You were supposed to subtract your age from 220, exercise intensely enough to get your heart rate up to 70–85 percent of that number and keep it there for twenty minutes.

    Lose Weight, Get Healthy, And Live Longer

    Now it turns out that the advice we were given was very far from the whole picture. “Moderate exercise can really produce enormous gains for health,” says Harvey Simon, MD, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Simon should know. He was one of the strongest advocates for the “more is better” philosophy that’s predominated in the fitness industry for the last twenty years. “I used to say that golf was the perfect way to ruin a four mile walk,” Dr. Simon says ruefully, “because it was only exercise at a moderate level, it didn’t bring your heart rate up and your walk is constantly interrupted. Then a study was published in the American Journal of Medicine that found men who simply added golf playing to their normal daily routine lost weight, lowered their girth and improved their cholesterol levels. That got me thinking.”

    Dr. Simon began researching the literature and found that indeed moderate exercise had profound benefits. Then why had the experts touted heart-pounding heavy exercise for so long? “The problem had to do with what we call “end-points,” Dr. Simon said. “When you want to find out if something is working, you have to choose some specific end point to measure. So if, for example, you're investigating a new teaching technique for reading, you want to measure whether kids actually read better. That's the 'end-point.' The old studies on exercise were looking at the 'end point' of aerobic capacity—how much oxygen your lungs could hold and how efficiently your body used it, he explained. To improve that specific measure of fitness—called VO2 Max, indeed, harder aerobic exercise is needed. But when you look at the 'endpoint' of good health, a very different story emerges.

    "I reviewed 22 studies, involving 320,000 people, that evaluated the impact of moderate exercise on cardiovascular disease and longevity," Dr. Simon said. "The results were eye-opening. Moderate exercise was credited with 18.84 percent reductions in the risk of heart disease and 18.50 percent reductions in overall mortality. If you look at breast cancer, colon cancer, depression, heart attacks, stroke, sudden cardio death, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, even dementia, exercise is extremely beneficial," said Dr. Simon, "and it doesn't take aerobic exercise as traditionally defined to achieve those benefits."

    Dr. Simon, in his, The No Sweat Exercise Plan has come up with a term called "Cardiometabolic Exercise" to describe the kind of moderate exercise he's talking about. "My theory is that all physical activities anywhere on the spectrum can benefit the heart and can benefit metabolism—things like blood sugar and body fat," he said. In his book, Dr. Simon assigns points to various activities so that people can set a goal for how many points they need a week to achieve measurable health benefits. He calls these CME points (for Cardiometabolic Exercise). Dr. Simon recommends that you achieve 150 CME points per day or 1000 CME points per week to attain significant health benefits, but you can work up to that over the course of nine weeks starting with as little as 25 CME points per day. (See table on previous page of CME points for selected activities).

    Walking is the core exercise in Dr. Simon's "No-Sweat Exercise Program" and it gets a table all it's own in the book. The number of CME points you get for walking depends on both your weight and on your speed, but typically a 160 pound individual would chalk up about 125 CME points for every 30 minutes of walking. "I'm not at all opposed to harder exercise," Dr. Simon said, "and if people want to earn their 1000 weekly CME points by doing hard aerobics or weight training or sports, that's just fine. The point of this is not that those exercises aren't valuable, but that much more moderate exercise confers great benefits as well."

    Those benefits include 21.34 percent reduction in the risk of stroke, 15.50 percent reduction for dementia, 40 percent for fractures, 30 percent for breast cancer and 30.40 percent for colon cancer. "Many of these benefits were obtained with as little as 55 flights of steps a week, an hour of gardening, or two to four hours of light leisure time activity." said Dr. Simon. "The little things really do add up."

    In one study, after just three weeks of inactivity, healthy twenty-year-old men developed many physiological characteristics of men twice their age. After just eight weeks of exercise there was an improvement in virtually every physiological and metabolic measure, including cholesterol, heart rate stiffness, digestion, muscle mass and metabolic rate. "Exercise is just the best anti-aging medicine we have," Dr. Simon said.

    From Bottom Line's interview with Harvey B. Simon, MD, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the founding editor of Harvard Men's Health Watch. Dr. Simon is the award-winning author of five previous books on health and fitness, and received the London Prize for Excellence in Teaching from Harvard and MIT. His book is The No Sweat Exercise Plan (McGraw-Hill, 2006).