One of the things I find most mystifying about this season (besides wondering why nobody ever writes new Christmas songs - I'm a fan of all the big holiday hits but a girl can only hear Jingle Bell Rock so many times, especially if it's Mariah Carey singing it) is why people want to wait until January 1st to do things. See, I'm impatient. And impulsive. And while the two combined have resulted in many a comical life disaster (ask me about the time I showed up to a job interview wearing a dress that I had shortened with a pair of scissors ten minutes beforehand in the parking lot), the good thing is that once I decide to do something, I do it. Right then. Even if it is the middle of the night. People love this about me. So much so that my husband now takes sleeping pills and refuses to discuss anything of import with me after 10 p.m.
So in the spirit of the New Year and a toast to immediacy, I offer you seven healthy changes that you can do right now. Today! Maybe even this very second! Why waste a month (or a good hem) in waiting?
1. Move your fruit bowl to the middle of your table. A) It's a pretty centerpiece so people will think you decorate and stuff and b) You're more liable to eat it if you see it first thing when you walk into your kitchen. Studies say that the average American eats less than 2 servings a day of fruits and vegetables. While I find that hard to believe about my readers - if I have learned one thing doing this blog it is that you are hardly average! - we could all use a fiber barrier between us and the eggnog cooling device a.k.a. the Fridge of Ill Repute.
2. Call your sister. In the famed Harvard longevity study, one of the most surprising correlations they found was that people who had a sibling - particularly a sister - in their lives lived longer and reported higher levels of satisfaction. I'm fortunate to have two very smart sisters whose sole purpose in life seems to be entertaining me via the hands-free attachment of my cell phone. It's gotten to the point where my kids think Aunt LaLa is really my imaginary friend who appears during Mommy's Crazy Time (i.e. the hours between dinner and bedtime) to talk me down from the ledge.
3. Laugh. A popular axiom points out that babies laugh an average of 50 times a day and while it fails to point out that the little nippers also cry 50 times a day, it is worth noting that we seem to lose some of our good humor as we get older. A good belly laugh releases a flood of endorphins and all that fizziness counteracts the bad effects of the stress hormone cortisol. What was YouTube invented for if not to make you giggle? A fast connection and plenty of bandwidth and the world is your oyster! (Shhh...surprise kitty!)
4. Meditate. Quietly pondering life, the universe and everything - or nothing - has many benefits. If you are the kind who doesn't like to just sit and stare at your eyelids, try moving through a couple of gentle yoga postures. Sure you'll have to wear those stupid head bands Mischa Barton has been pimping and say things like "groovy" but it'll be worth it when you can bust out the calming breaths the next time the cashier closes the line right before you.
5. Write with your left hand. You know what's fun at parties? Showing off your ambidexterity! If you're single you can write down two numbers at once, although how you juggle two dates at once without anyone pulling a Tiger Woods is up to you. Plus it's like insurance in case you ever have to cut off one hand to save your life (what? It happens!). Seriously though, research has shown that doing small tasks like eating or writing with your non-dominant hand or tying your shoelaces backwards is like steroids for your willpower muscle. And everyone needs beefed-up willpower this time of year whether it's holding your tongue when your mother-in-law plays Rorshach with the stains in your carpet ("Hmm... this one looks like vacuum! Wonder what that means?") or the tray of Christmas bon-bons left on your doorstep. My favorite way is to do a my daily crossword puzzle - yes, I'm in the AARP - with my left hand. See? Healthy can be fun!
6. Notice 5 new things. How often do we rush through our days without really seeing what's around us? Case in point: yesterday I didn't see a man behind me who apparently wanted to open a door for me. I opened it myself and he chastised me for not waiting for him. (His exact words, weirdly enough, were, "In Texas women are real ladies." Ok, then!) Anyhow, we both would have felt better had I noticed him there and allowed him his gentlemanly act. Although now that I've just typed that out, the situation seems oddly creepy. So whether you are noticing the creepy gentleman behind you or the way the light shines off the snow on the tree branches, taking note of the novelty around you will sharpen your senses, brighten your day and make you grateful.
7. Do something kind for someone else. Nothing will make you feel better faster than this.
Finally, healthy changes you can actually do in Just 15 Minutes a Day! While it won't get you Washboard Abs or even a washboard, I guarantee it will make you feel better and that's more than most diets can say.