5 Habits to Break Before It's Too Late You want to live a long, full life -- to be young and lean forever. But you could be do ing yourself more harm than good. Getty Images by JJ Virgin "Someday," you say, "I'm going to get my health back on track, after this next project," or "when I get back from my cruise," or "when the kids get a little older" ... C'mon, you know your list of reasons -- or what I call EXCUSES -- better than I. Look, if you're waiting for some magical day to appear, you just may be waiting forever. These days do not "show up"; you show up for THEM. I have identified five critical areas, bad habits that many people mindlessly follow. Do you realize that each and every day of your life that you do not reverse these dangerous trends, you get farther and farther from your ultimate goal of living a fulfilling life? Take a look at each area, determine how you stack up, and then make the fix today: 1) Stealing from sleep: Studies show that a minimum of seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep (at night) are essential for health. Sleep is the time when your body repairs and recovers from all of the metabolic processes that your body performs every second. Sleep supports healthy weight management, raises growth hormone, and heals the adrenals. If you are watching TV, working on your PC, or otherwise stimulating yourself so that you are unable to go to sleep by 11 PM, then establish the Power Down Hour and turn to more relaxing activities like baths, light novels, or cuddling with a loved one (or pet!) at least an hour or two before bedtime. Then ... retrain yourself to sleep through the night. 2) Skipping breakfast: How many times do you find yourself dashing out the door to start your day, only to discover that you forgot to eat? Listen, your body has just "fasted" overnight, and in order to fuel yourself for the day (and lower stress hormones), you must eat a balanced meal that includes proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Otherwise, your body will turn on itself for fuel, and it isn't fat but muscle that it's going to target ... which will cascade into a very nasty sequence of health consequences that will make you fat, old, and tired before your time. 3) Blowing off exercise: If you think you can manage your health and weight through dietary means alone, it won't work. Period. Exercise is crucial for stimulating proper physical and hormonal response necessary for building muscle and bone, burning fat, letting you sleep, keeping you young, giving you energy -- the list is endless. More important is the CORRECT type of exercise, which involves high-intensity interval training, along with resistance workouts. If you can't find 20-30 minutes a day to incorporate these exercises into your life (oh yeah, that is ALL you need, by the way), then you can kiss your health goodbye. 4) Noshing at night: Strapping on the feedbag in the evenings basically signals your body to hold off on burning existing fat stores, raises stress hormones before bedtime, and screws up your body's natural digestive processes at a time when it should be ready to shut down and repair. If you are eating in a hormonally-balanced way during your evening meal, there is absolutely no need to munch afterward. 5) Not counting your beverages: One of the craziest things I encounter in my work is the lack of consideration of high-calorie, high-sugar drinks in the diet. Yes, those healthy "Jumbo Juices," designer coffee slurpees (hey, they may as well be, given all the sugar in them), and those harmless little cocktails every night, especially those fruit-flavored martini and tequila drinks, can really pack on the pounds in a hurry. Make the switch to healthier options like iced green tea -- or, my favorite, Emergen-C -- for some sparkling mineral replacements that not only satisfy, but also fuel and nourish! JJ Virgin, PhD, CNS is a celebrity health and nutrition expert, author, public speaker and media personality. She is internationally recognized as the creator of the Weight Loss Resistance Revolution™ and trains other health care professionals in her program. JJ is the President of the National Association of Nutrition Professionals, nanp.org. Read more: http://www.momlogic.com/2009/10/5_diet_habits_to_break_before_its_too_late.php#ixz z0UOGfO7NP 0943e4d The 10 Healthiest Cities for Women Women everywhere are making healthy changes. Now we’ve found the people doing it best: With the help of an expert panel and BestPlaces.net, we crunched 7,700 bits of data from 100 metro areas to find the 10 top spots for women. See the entire list here! By Sheila Monaghan and Kelly Mickle 1. Burlington, VT Appetite for health: Tucked between the Adirondack and Green mountains on the shore of Lake Champlain, our winning town boasts outer and inner beauty: Women here have some of the list’s lowest rates of diabetes, cholesterol and hypertension. Possible keys to their hardy hearts? Residents exercise and walk to work in large numbers, and few women smoke. But they really shine at mealtime: ―We are connected to the natural world in a unique way, and it carries over into how we eat,‖ says yoga teacher and mother of two Tre McCarney, 34. There are six times as many organic food producers and nearly three times as many food co-ops in Burlington as the survey average. This year, more farmers’ markets began taking food stamps, so everyone can eat right. Live like a local: ―Visit a farm,‖ McCarney suggests. ―Throughout the spring, summer and fall, I load up on dark leafy greens and enough berries to freeze for the winter. And I pick apples at an orchard near my home and turn them into applesauce.‖ Find a farm near you at PickYourOwn.org. 2. Bethesda, MD Suburban security: The unofficial motto of our silver-medal city: Safety first. In addition to boons such as low unemployment and terrific health care, the Bethesda-GaithersburgFrederick metro area has 46 percent less violent crime than average and 54 percent fewer rapes. Residents are nearly 40 percent less likely to be in a fatal car accident. Live like a local: ―My neighbors know and look out for one another, which makes me feel safe,‖ says Jessica Havens, 35, a mom in Bethesda. The police department in Montgomery County empowers residents with free home-security reviews and neighborhood-watch training. Invite an officer to your next block party; the Celebrate Safe Communities program at USAOnWatch.org can show you how. 3. Portland, ME Queens of green: ―You can work downtown, hop on a bike at lunch and quickly be in a wooded area by a stream,‖ enthuses Heather Chandler, 38, publisher of the Sunrise Guide, a book of green-living tips for southern Maine. The area (including South Portland and Biddeford) posts primo scores for water and air quality and has nearly 70 percent more green buildings than the average. The state gives a green stamp of approval to eco-aware hotels and restaurants so customers can seek them out. Live like a local: ―An expert found low-cost ways to tighten up my 100-year-old home, such as insulating my basement,‖ Chandler says. ―I connected rain barrels to my gutters and use the runoff to water my garden.‖ Visit EnergySavers.gov for advice on conducting your own energy audit. 4. Cambridge, MA Health care heaven: The smart cookies in this metro area (which includes Framingham and Newton) can choose from 90 percent more ob/gyns and internists than is typical. And they are among the most vigilant about getting Pap smears, mammograms, breast exams and checkups. Live like a local: ―Cambridge has a culture of wellness. Residents take advantage of city programs,‖ says resident Lisa Wolff, a health-program evaluator. Visit FindAHealthCenter.HRSA.gov to locate free programs near you. 5. San Francisco, CA California dreaming: Exercise, eating well and shunning cigarettes make Bay Area women healthy 24/7: They report getting good sleep all but six days a month. (In Charleston, WV, women toss and turn three nights a week!) ―I moved here two years ago and am sleeping more soundly than ever,‖ says Karin Rush-Monroe, 47, a public-affairs representative. Live like a local: ―The weather is so beautiful, I walk 2 miles to and from work and fall asleep with my windows open,‖ Rush-Monroe says. Sunshine helps regulate circadian rhythms, making nighttime rest more peaceful—try strolling or dining alfresco at lunch instead of eating at your desk. Click here for the complete rankings! 6. Honolulu, HI Disease beaters: This tropical town has more than scenery: Waikiki women have the list’s lowest chance of dying of breast cancer and the second-lowest for skin cancer—despite living in a place with 271 sunny days a year. Lung, colon and ovarian cancer deaths are also relatively rare. Live like a local: ―We eat tons of seafood and very little red meat,‖ says Tiffany Coke, 32, a high school math and physics teacher in Honolulu. ―And instead of chips and salsa, our standard party snack is poke, a Hawaiian raw-tuna dish.‖ Use Self.com’s recipe finder to whip up Tuna Tostadas, Salmon Bruschetta and other stellar party snacks filled with cancer-busting fish and produce. 7. Stamford, CT Park paradise: The alleged birthplace of the Frisbee, the shoreline around Stamford, Bridgeport and Norwalk is carpeted with more than four times the parks and beaches than our list average—and has one third fewer toxic sites. More breathing room is on the way: In Bridgeport, the B-Green 2020 program aims to reduce the area’s carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions by at least 10 percent in a decade, in part by turning small, open lots into parks. ―In dense areas like ours, people need the release you get from open spaces,‖ says Mayor Bill Finch, whose house faces Beardsley Park Zoo. ―What’s more affordable and authentic than playing baseball in a field, taking your kids to the playground or going to see otters and alligators?‖ Live like a local: ―There are so many activities for families here,‖ says Michele McDonald, 37, a market research account director in Stamford. ―You can take marine-life cruises from the aquarium in Norwalk or make apple cider at the Stamford Museum & Nature Center.‖ Search www.nwf.org/naturefind for listings of outdoor events near you. 8. Madison, WI The sweat spot: Women in this Midwestern college town find more time to get fit than those anywhere else we looked—85 percent of them get regular exercise outside work. Their efforts have them looking great, earning one of the lowest average body-mass indexes of all areas we analyzed. More important, they feel great, with cancer and heart disease mortality rates that are roughly 15 percent lower than the average. Live like a local: Commuting by bike is an ideal way to squeeze in your daily exercise. And because there are miles of bike trails, women here are 250 percent more likely than women elsewhere to pedal to work. ―We hold bike-awareness week every year to encourage residents to become riders; plus, we’ve created bike lanes and parking spots so cyclists feel safe,‖ says Amanda White, 32, director of the Bicycling Federation of Wisconsin in Madison. Visit BikeToWorkWeek.org for tips on swapping four wheels for two at least one day a week. 9. Santa Barbara, CA Easy breathers: Among the many savvy habits in the Santa Barbara–Santa Maria area— eating lots of fruit, wearing seat belts, biking to work—one stands out. ―You hardly ever see people smoking here,‖ says Mikaela Mennan, 40, an executive recruiter. The stats prove it: Only 9 percent of women are puffers. Live like a local: Strict laws here ban lighting up within 20 feet of any fume-free building. If you’re still being exposed at work, go to www.cdc.gov/tobacco for tips on spearheading a smokeless office. 10. Fargo, ND Cold comfort: Women up here feel down a mere two days a month. Stressors such as crime and unemployment are rare, and women report more social and emotional support than almost anywhere else. ―Whether it’s neighbors, workout buddies or church, that support system is always there,‖ says Robin Johnson, 22, a recent grad. ―Even in the grocery store, people chat and cheer you up. You feel like they really do care.‖ Live like a local: Young women here form running groups to socialize. In its first five years, the Fargo Marathon has grown from 2,400 to 13,000-plus participants. ―It’s in May, and having a goal can get you through the long, cold winter,‖ Johnson explains. Start your own training program at Self.com/goal. How does your city stack up? See the entire list here!
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