12 Days of Christmas Leads to 12 Ways to Make 2017 Sparkle

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1. USE A STAND-UP DESK. You thought I was going to say exercise, right? Later. There are 10,000 studies that show how damaging it is to your health and vital organs to spend long periods of time sitting down. (I love my Varidesk; it’s a cinch to raise and lower.) When you rise repeatedly, your kidneys can breathe and your energy can flow.

2. TRAIN YOUR BRAIN. Brain scientists aren’t kidding when they tell us to use it or lose it. To keep cognition alive and reduce your risk of all forms of dementia, never stop learning. Take up chess, learn a new language, play bridge. The aging brain thrives on stimulation. P.S. We are all aging.

3. MAKE UP WITH SOMEONE YOU’RE MAD AT. Holding on to anger is a drain on your health and happiness. Let it go. Forgiveness isn’t the same as showing approval. It just frees up space for more joy. Once you’ve given up anger, move right on to diminishing jealousy, hatred and fear.

4. STOP DIETING. Gimmicky diets don’t work, not for the long haul. What you lose, you gain back. What does work is lifestyle change: eating real food, in appropriate amounts and avoiding processed foods. This is a lot to swallow because the diet industry is a billion-dollar business with some brainwashing and deceit.

5. LEARN TO COOK. This follows No. 4, as night follows day. Learn to prepare simple, tasty meals that don’t depend on toxic chemicals and exotic additives that extend shelf life but make your life prone to discomfort and disease.

6. HELP OTHERS. It’s my favorite true cliche: Doing good makes you feel better. Teach a kid to read. Volunteer at a food pantry. Being generous to others is a way of showing gratitude, and there’s big bang for your buck.

7. STRENGTH TRAIN. If you don’t do something to keep your muscles strong and flexible, they will wither and grow stiff and that leads to all sorts of medical misery. Lift weights, do yoga, find the path of moderate resistance and stick with it as long as you live.

8. MAKE THE MIND-BODY CONNECTION. Yoga works for this, too, and so does training in qi gong or tai chi or any of the martial arts. Your mind and your body are intricately connected. Conscious breathing can help you discover the link, and once you do, your vitality will improve in remarkable ways.

9. REDUCE SUGAR. Cutting out sugar is one of the smartest and easiest ways to dramatically improve your health ... in as little as 10 days! Go to the SugarScience website and read all about it. Added sugars are hidden in 74 percent of processed foods under more than 60 different names, and they’re a major cause of obesity, heart problems and a pitiful parade of other chronic diseases.

10. DETACH FROM TECHNOLOGY. If you think sugar is hard to kick, try going without your smartphone for a day. Impossible! We are addicted to the 24/7 technology, but it is distractive and destructive. How can you reduce your connectivity in 2017? No doubt, there’s an app to help.

11. QUIET YOUR MIND. Your 2017 will be less frantic and more productive if you take as little as 10 minutes a day to sit quietly and meditate. There’s no wrong way to do it. Just show up, close your eyes and when thoughts arise, let them go and return to your breath. The results, over time, are mind-blowing.

12. EXERCISE! You knew it was coming and here it is. You know why, you know how. What you might not know yet is how much better it’ll make you feel. Just 30 minutes a day, at least five days a week. No matter how many times you’ve tried before, you can always begin again. Start today.


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Marilynn Preston­—healthy lifestyle expert, well-being coach and Emmy-winning producer—is the creator of Energy Express, the longest-running syndicated fitness column in the country. She has a website, marilynnpreston.com, and welcomes reader questions, which can be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. She also produces EnExTV, a digital reincarnation of her award-winning TV series about sports, fitness and adventure, for kids of all ages, at youtube.com/EnExTV and facebook.com/EnExTV. © 2016 ENERGY EXPRESS LTD

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