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New Year, New You: Two Changes That Will Rock Your World

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Every year it's the same old thing. Once again this will be the year you'll tell yourself that you'll: lose weight, get fit, stop smoking, take care of your health, live greener, drink less (or more), be a nicer person. And every year, January comes and goes...and with it your resolve. By February first, you have forgotten all about change and gone back to 'Law and Order' marathons.

Well, it's time: time to get off the coach, rev your engines and make this the year that you don't look back (and look down and see your toes for the first time in a while); the year that you get...and stay fit.

What will make this year different from all the others? Why now? Well, besides the fact that we are out of time and are being crushed by an epidemic of 'lifestyle diseases' that are stealing our vitality and wellness, there's the fact that we are sick and tired of being sick and tired.

Change is in the air. More and more of us are thinking before we eat and getting fitter. It's just a whiff of change right now, but it's about to explode. With health care reform bills that are more trouble than they have been to pass and the cost of being sick continuing to skyrocket, it's time to step up and be healthy.

What does it mean to be a healthy human? I think we have lost sight of the answer. Living with robust health is our birthright. But with so many things out of balance in our modern world, it amazes me that anyone can actually achieve wellness. Between Facebook, Twitter, email, phones, apps, appointments, obligations (many self-imposed) there is precious little time left to disconnect and 'be.'

As humans, we have taken ourselves so far from what is natural that we don't know what natural is anymore. We think it's normal to feel tired, lethargic, to have aches, pains, bumps, lumps, bulges, dots, spots and hair in places we didn't think possible and no hair where we want it! We think it's normal to walk with hunched shoulders, head low, guts hanging over our pants, 'muffin tops' spilling over our jeans, our hair as lifeless as our skin, which is as lifeless as we feel. When we look around, the majority of people we see look like this, too, so it must be normal, right? You couldn't be more wrong.

We eat completely inappropriate food for humans and lead lives that are about as far from what Mother Nature intended as we can be...and we are paying a price for it, with tired, achy, overweight, sick, weak bodies and foggy minds. And this sad state of affairs has led me to one conclusion. Nothing short of a total re-thinking of what you know will change your current habits and your current state of health.

You have to ask yourself what your life is worth. Is it easy? What change is easy? But the time to be a grown up about this is well past. The time for action is now, this year, this moment. No more delays or resolutions falling by the wayside. The time for you to become healthy, strong and vital is now...now.

Where do you begin? That's the easy part. It's your food. Changing the food you choose to fuel your body will change your life...and your body. There is nothing normal, natural or appropriate about a 1250-calorie burger, so it's simply a matter of making a better choice. And no, I am not going to go all 'vegan' on you; I'm just saying there are better choices. And before you even hit me with the tired excuse that you like and want that fat-filled, artery-clogging death on a bun, let me say this: can it. I have heard all the excuses. It's time to let go of childish attachments to food that is making you sick. Just as you wouldn't walk into a leper colony or step in front of a bus (could be bad for your health, after all...), you have to look at what you put in your body as right for you or...not so much.

But where do you begin? Is it with moderate change, like using low-fat cheese in your tacos instead of the full fat version? Is it simply buying a smaller burger at the fast food joint to which you willingly sacrifice your health? Not in my view, but that's me.

You can't change without change. And like it or not, there is really only one way to achieve health and wellness...and your ideal weight. Choosing to eat more vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts and seeds are the keys to your success. Am I saying no animal food at all? Ideally, yes, I am. I think we have all eaten enough animal food to last several lifetimes...and look where it has gotten us...sick, fat, lethargic and without the will to say 'enough!'

But I'll cut you some slack here. For now, to get started with resolutions that just might last past the spring thaw, let's begin with adding more veggies to your current diet. That's it. Keep on hitting the Golden Arches if you must, but eat more fresh veggies, in whatever form you like (okay, not French fries or onion rings, but any other form). Every day, eat four to five servings of vegetables. It's so easy. A salad with four to five ingredients (without the fatty ranch dressing) is cool, but it's not enough. Buy some different veggies, ones you have never tried before. Challenge yourself and buy a new one each week and try it. Worst case scenario? You won't like it and you'll move on to another. Remember that making a colorful stir fry dish with an abundance of fresh vegetables can help you meet your new goals and takes minutes to prepare.

From there, you can work on cutting back on junk food, meat, fast food, dairy products, sugar and all the other foods that are not serving the purpose of your life. It's a process, a way for you to evolve your eating. If you consistently remove the foods that are inappropriate for you and replace them with foods that serve your health, in six months, you'll have a new pantry, a new approach to eating, a new outlook on life and more robust health. You can find recipes galore on my website http://www.christinacooks.com...all fast, easy and yummy.

And if you take things to the ultimate level and add regular exercise to your new routine, well, the sky is the limit. Just adding a 30-minute walk to your daily schedule will work wonders for your health and attitude. You can build on walking to be as fit as you choose...at any age, at any level of current fitness.

These two little changes (okay, big for some of you) will result in this being the year that you do it; the year you wonder why it took you so long; the year that you become the person you are meant to be.

Happy New Year!

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