[Road to Wellness] Keep On Keepin' On, Weeks 7 and 8

I finally joined the Y this week and promise to regale all of you with my (no doubt funny) escapades there. I've been drinking smoothies every day and eating OK, not great yet, but better. My favorite find lately is Luna bars, made by the Clif Bar Company. They're made especially for women, packed with soy, and come in a lot of great flavors; my personal favorite is lemon. What's in store for us these next couple of weeks? More of the same, my friends, more of the same.

Week Seven:
• Exercise: Let's bump up our walks to 30 minutes four times a week. This week pretend you've got to get somewhere in a hurry. You're late for a hot date with destiny. Take somebody with you; race to the corner. Make sure you're still doing your yoga stretches. Push yourself just a little, not to pretzel proportions, but feel a little burn. You should be becoming more comfortable in those classes you've started (the Y has a gospel step class on Tuesday evenings). By the way, I found out that if you work for an area restaurant that is a member of the Restaurant Association, you can get a corporate discount at the Y. Or, ask your company to set up a deal for you; they need you healthy.

• Diet: Sit down at the beginning of the week, or even Sunday afternoon to plan the entire week's menus. You can save yourself shopping time and a little headache. The added benefit is making sure you're going to get your recommended allotment of vitamins, omega 3s and fiber everyday. Make a list of healthy, disease-fighting foods that you need daily, or several times a week; put it on the fridge: flaxseed, broccoli, blueberries, black beans, tomatoes, whole grains, ginger, garlic and soy. A sample daily menu might start with an apple when you first get up, then a bowl of natural cereal with flax powder and organic blueberries or an energy bar in the car on the way to work. Have a carrots and hummus snack at your desk around 10, a healthy soup and wheat crackers or wheat pita for lunch, brown rice, salmon and broccoli for dinner, and frozen yogurt with fresh berries for dessert. Yum!

• Create: Keep going with that journal. Can't think of anything to write? Write about that. Make a list of all the things that make you happy. Write about what you would do with a million dollars. Write a letter to your first boyfriend/girlfriend.

Here's a special project for this week—create a space of your own. Virginia Woolf was right; we all need a room of our own. Now, it doesn't have to be an entire room—just be a corner of the house or apartment. But, we all need a space that is entirely ours. You can decide what to do with this space; that's the best part.

• Boundaries: Find a way to reconnect with someone you have been estranged from. Maybe you live with them; maybe you haven't seen them in decades. Make a conscious effort to create a dent in the barriers that you've created around your heart. Find an organization to donate a few hours to. Take a jambox to a retirement home and ask if anyone wants to dance. Call a local school and see if anyone could use a free tutor.

Week Eight
• Exercise: Walk 35 minutes four times this week and practice yoga stretches. Plan to try an outdoor activity that you've always wanted to try, or that you don't have time for anymore. There are tons of beautiful, wild areas in Mississippi that cater to the adventurer in all of us. Go to Buffalo Peak Outfitters in Highland Village and ask the staff for ideas. Go online to check out the State Parks (http://www.mississippi.gov). There are also quite a few rivers that offer canoe trips; just be sure to bring the mosquito repellent. (Ask at Rainbow for one without DEET.)

• Diet: Be sure you're drinking filtered water; you should be getting close to the 64 ounces per day by now. (Get yourself a huge drinking bottle, so you don't have to fill it up often.) Try another fruit and vegetable "fast" one day this week. Keep avoiding drive-through restaurants, and continue shopping only on the perimeters of the grocery store. In every grocery store you'll find seasonal items as well as the staples in the produce section. Get a little creative and make an entirely seasonal dinner one night this week. While you're at the store, pick up a fun lunch box. Having something silly to carry your new foods in may bring a smile to your face when you are denying yourself the French fries you so desperately want (OK, that might just be me).

Create: Your assignment is to make yourself laugh at least once a day. Concentrate on being in the moment and create a sitcom in your head. Find the humor in everything. Create a prop bag for stressful times, complete with funny glasses, wigs and silly string. Throw a going-away party for the blues. Out with the funk, in with the funky. We're going to once and for all decide to be happy, regardless of circumstances. Once you've decided to be happy, it will be easier to convince everyone else to join in.

Boundaries: Set aside a few minutes each day to be alone behind a closed door. Practice what some call "mindful meditation." What it means is to be fully in the moment. Sit with your eyes closed and concentrate on your breathing. When a thought comes into your head, acknowledge it and then send it on its way. Find a place in your mind where you can relax. It could be an actual place that you remember or an imaginary one. All that matters is being calm and breathing. Pick up some essential oils this week and try them out. I swear by lavender now. I took some on a recent trip and every time I got a little anxious I would pull that little bottle out and sniff it. It could be a miracle.

Note that these wellness tips are gleaned from a variety of respected sources, and in no way take the place of consulting a good doctor about any health concerns you may have.

— by J. Bingo Holman, Aug. 21, 2003


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