What is Optimal Health? In his book, Dr. A’s Habits of Health, Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen describes Optimal Health as ‘the highest degree of health that is possible for you to achieve.’

The reality for many people is they’re simply surviving in a slowly declining state of well-being, not really healthy and not quite sick. This is caused by eating excessive amounts of nutritionally barren foods, weak and flabby muscles, lack of sleep, stress, and dependence on medications for relief. Too often, this leads to life-threatening illnesses.

With the New Year, comes an opportunity to make a fresh start and make optimal health your goal for a healthy body, mind and finances.  Remember! Optimal health is like a marathon, take your time and incorporate new ideas slowly and deliberately.

1. Lose Weight/Maintain a Healthy Weight 

According to the National Weight Control Registry, led by Dr. James Hill and Dr. Rena Wing, registry members who, on average, have lost 66 lbs and kept it off for 5.5 years, reported that they continue to maintain a low calorie, low fat diet, and do high levels of activity. What do they have in common?  They modified their food intake, increased physical activity (most through walking), eat breakfast every day, weigh themselves at least once a week, watch less than 10 hours of TV per week and exercise on average about 1 hour per day. (For more information go to www.nwcr.ws.com)

What is the best solution? The key to unlocking our fat stores is not just in how much we eat, but how often. Dr. Andersen advocates eating small (100-300 calorie) frequent (every 2-3 hours) balanced meals consisting of lean protein, low glycemic vegetables and starches, and limiting our natural sugars intake. He further recommends drinking half our body weight in ounces of water each day, getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night, and reducing stress.

2. Get Fit 

Increase your energy expenditure using good habits of motion by increasing your endurance, strength and flexibility. Improve your posture and breathing techniques. Create gentle, effective daily motion vs. intense workouts to avoid burnout and injury. Join a gym, work with a trainer, start a walking program, do chair yoga. Daily exercise clears your mind, gives you satisfaction, helps maintain a healthy metabolism and provides a sense of accomplishment.

3. Spend More Time with Family 

Everyone is busy these days. Sit down for a daily family meal. Phone out of town family members weekly or bi-weekly. Remember birthdays with a card or phone call. (Note: e-mail keeps you in touch, but lacks the personal connection of an actual conversation).

4. Enjoy Life to the Fullest 

Just as optimal health is a personal goal, so is measuring the richness of your life. Are you living your life to its fullest? Ask yourself: What are my goals? What do I really want in my life? Did my actions today take me closer to those goals? What steps can I take to reach my goals?

5. Help Others in their Dreams/Volunteer 

Let this be the year you give back. No matter the degree of your involvement, when you give you receive. Learn to give what you can, don’t over commit yourself in time or money. Be responsible to the commitment. Remember, time is the greatest gift of all.

6. Reduce Your Debt 

Vow to manage your debt more effectively. In his book, The Richest Man in Babylon, George S. Clason, lists 7 simple rules in the form of a parable to lead readers toward better financial understanding. Written in 1926, this is a terrific gift for anyone…Or see Reesa Manning’s recommendations on page 28 of this issue!

7. Manage Stress 

Stress is an integral part of our lives. Let’s look at ways to de-stress our lives. Get a massage (weekly if possible), do yoga, take a warm bath or shower, make your home cozy and inspiring, dim lights, turn off the news, reduce your noise pollution. Set goals, visit with family and friends, and make time every day for reflection, meditation or prayer.

8. Take a Trip 

The planning, execution and enjoyment of travel broadens our horizons and enriches our lives through personal development and growth. It gives us a better understanding of our community, state, nation and world. Don’t wait!

9. Learn Something New 

Try something new this year, like a foreign language, cooking technique, learn to surf, play an instrument, tango!

10. Fall in Love 

Fall in love with yourself first. Who is this marvelous, complex being, and what greatness do you bring the world? With this answer, find the love in everyone you meet. This year, my vow is to look only for the good in my family, friends and acquaintances. I bet I fall in love daily!

Shonna and Richard Perry are Certified Health Coaches at Perry4Health. They offer free personalized health assessments, and planning and support for weight management and optimal health. For more information call, 760-217-6169 or email: [email protected].

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