HEALTH

Mark it on the calendar

8 ways to ensure the best financial, emotional, physical and healthy year yet.

It’s all about the little things.

A new year doesn’t have to mean remaking every aspect of life. Sometimes, tapering the smaller things can lead to a stronger big picture. Honing in on individual facets of healthy living is the sure way to make 2013 the best year yet. Here are 8 easy ways to boost a healthier lifestyle and provide focus for a fresh new year.

1 DEVELOP A financial PLAN

In the midst of a national financial crisis, money woes are no doubt topping the stress list for many people. Going into 2013 with a disorganized budget isn’t exactly the best start, for finances or mental health. Ric Edelman, a top-ranked adviser and author of the best-selling book, “The Truth About Money” (Harper Paperbacks, 2010), suggests choosing a financial plan for the year and sticking to it.
 

“The single greatest cause of financial failure is procrastination,” Edelman says.
Saving enough money to cover at least six months’ worth of living expenses should be the first step, he says.
Not sure how to get started? Hire a financial advisor. Edelman suggests looking for a reputable, independent and fee-based professional if help is needed.

 

2 PAY yourself

A good trick for sticking to a budget is writing a check … to yourself.
“Instead of writing checks each month to pay all of your bills until there’s nothing left to save, write the first check to yourself before you’re out of money,” Edelman says.

 

3 Don’t let the past get you down: The perfect motto for a new year, new you:

Let go and move on.
“Visit the past so you can see how it may be coloring your current relationships with dark hues, but make sure to live in the present,” says Dr. Frances Cohen Praver. “If you stay in the past, you will become depressed,” she says.
On the reverse, Cohen Praver also says to avoid thinking too far ahead, for fear of growing anxious or negative.
“The key is to live in the present,” she says.
focus for a fresh new year.

4 Clean up your relationships

“If love has faded from your relationship, now is the time to work hard to bring love and lust back,” Cohen Praver says.
The New Year is a good excuse to try new things with your partner, in the name of new adventures.
“Remember that you and your partner are connected with mirror neurons, so that if you change yourself, your partner can’t help but change himself or herself too,” Cohen Praver says.

 

5 Maintain a well-balanced diet

Eating healthy is an obvious way to stay on track health-wise, but knowing what foods are best to incorporate into an overall eating scheme is key.
Lisa DeFazio, a registered dietitian and diet expert for Perez Hilton’s celebrity health and fitness website, fitperez.com, says to go for variety. She suggests incorporating whole grains for fiber, such as oatmeal, oat bran and flax seeds. Proteins like nuts, fish, chicken and lean beef also are important, as are healthy fats from olive oil, avocados and nuts.

 

6 Sneak in your nutrients

Angela Pifer, a Seattle-based nutritionist, suggests stocking up on frozen vegetables like organic spinach and kale, both for their affordability and their ability to add a nutritious punch to traditional meals like scrambled eggs, soup, stew, stir-fry and casseroles. Busy people will be more likely to incorporate veggies if they are already chopped and ready to cook.

 

7 Eat your vitamins

Recent studies have begun to question the efficacy of daily vitamins. Instead, fill in your nutritional blanks by planning and buying snacks that are made with fruits, nuts, seeds and vegetable and plant extracts.
People should make it their goal to eat more fruit, period, dietitians say.
“It’s one of the most important things we can do,” says Alice Bender, a registered dietitian and nutrition communications manager, for the American Institute for Cancer Research in Washington, D.C.
Fruits are high in dietary fiber and water content, so you fill up without too many calories, Bender says.
In addition, fruits contain vitamins, such as A and C, the mineral potassium, as well as plant chemicals that may reduce a person’s risk of chronic disease. People who consume more fruits may have a lower incidence of larynx, esophagus, stomach or lung cancer, according to Bender.

8 Replace junk with nutrition

Giving up salty and sweet snacks can be hard. Luckily, it’s easy to find healthy replacements for junk-food favorites.
For those with a taste for salt, DeFazio suggests options like Popchips, low-fat microwave popcorn, pretzels and Chex mix. For the sweet-toothed folks, go for dried fruit, frozen juice bars, low-fat granola bars, graham crackers and low-fat pudding cups.

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