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Aaah, yes, more ubiquitous advice on healthy living. From the slick covers of monthly magazines to overcaffeinated morning show hosts, most of the information is the same. And, I don't pretend to tell you anything that you haven't already heard; however, I do hope to catch you in an undistracted, earnest moment in your busy life to reposition these opportunities.

1. Drink Plenty of Water.
The "8 x 8" rule (8-8 oz. glasses per day) generally applies here, but the amount could vary per person due to climate, amount of activity, and weight. Try dividing your weight in half, the outcome is the number of ounces you should drink. Sufficient water intake promotes alertness, encourages healing, flushes toxins, and reduces risk of kidney stones.



2. Take Your Vitamins.
Referring back to the first step, add some granulated B12 to one of your glasses of water per day. Taking an easily digestible multivitamin is also important. Daily stressors can chip away at your immune system, so having back-up can help counteract this erosion.


3. Avoid Stress.
Realistically? Not always possible. However, you can at least reduce it to a tolerable level. One thing we all do is try to be accommodating, but sometimes it's just best to say "no" rather than overextend ourselves to the point of exhaustion.

Regrouping is essential too. Designate thirty minutes a day for decompression, whether you practice yoga techniques, deep breathing exercises, or just lie still with your eyes closed. Realize that you are not always in control, and don't just accept it; embrace it. Work with the tools you have and do the best you can.


4. Adopt Good Eating Habits.
Yeah, yeah, avoid fast and processed foods. But it goes beyond that. Relax while you have a meal--eat at a table, not behind a desk or over the kitchen sink. And, chew your food thoroughly.

Eat out less and prepare your meals at home, centering them around organic seasonal foods. Although this does require a little extra time, you will reap significant nutritional benefits. Try preparing plenty of food and dishing it out into small containers as "grab and go" meals for the rest of the week. Still short on ideas and time? Consult with a personal chef. Personal chefs don't just cook for you; they offer advice on food preparation and meal planning too.

Limit alcohol and sweets--empty calories.

If you need a quick snack, go for nutrient-rich foods like fresh vegetables and raw nuts. Every bite you take should be abundant in vitamins and minerals your body can use. Food is not filler; it's nourishment.


5. Exercise.
Movement helps ease your mind and is good for the body. Try not to make it too routine or it becomes a chore. Free-form by breaking it up—perhaps a good brisk hike one day and Pilates the next.



6. Read Your Labels.
First, you need to know what you're looking for in the myriad of ingredients listed on packaging. Second, note that what you put into your body is just as important as what you put on it.

Concerning food, there are some outstanding ingredients you should avoid. These include, but are not limited to, the following: high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), enriched bleached flours, artificial colors and flavors, saturated fats, refined sugar, sodium nitrates, MSG, chemical sweeteners, BHA/BHT, and hydrogenated oils. (This list will be explored more in depth in a separate article.)

Regarding personal care products, here's a brief list of the top twelve "baddies" most often found in ingredient decks: parabens, propylene glycol, sodium laureth sulfate, phthalates, nanoparticles, DEA/TEA/MEA, coal tar derivatives, formaldehyde/formaldehyde donors, hydroquinone, BHA/BHT, octoxynols, ethyl acetate. Note that this isn't an exhaustive list, but it should get you started. (This list will also be expanded upon in a forthcoming article.)


7. Sharpen Your Mind.
Fire up those neurons. Read, play Sudoku, write, draw, or whatever works for you.

8. Get Plenty of Sleep.
Realistically, this isn't always possible. However, 8-9 restful hours each night is recommended. If you're having difficulty "shutting down", try a few of these tips: Take a warm bath; avoid daytime naps; get up earlier in the mornings; avoid caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco; keep regular bedtime hours; and, don't watch TV in bed.

9. Reserve "Me Time".
No matter your schedule and responsibilities, it is imperative that you get "me time". Visit a spa, get together with family and friends, or enjoy your favorite hobby. You need this to re-energize and maintain proper life balance.

Clearly there are more than nine steps to healthy living, but I suspect that you would not have read this article had it been titled "550 Simple Steps to Healthy Living". Try one or try them all, but keep in mind that they're lifestyle changes, so in the long run, you will feel permanent positive results. Even though you may back slide from time to time, keep trying.