Let’s just face the truth: most people’s New Year’s resolutions — quitting smoking, losing weight — don’t end up working out. But that’s not to say that a brand new year isn’t a chance to overhaul some habits and make your life both healthier and happier, according to experts at Johns Hopkins and other area institutions. Below, some suggestions for changes to make 2012 your best year ever.
- Cut down on multi-tasking. According to Susan Lehmann, a psychiatrist working at Hopkins, “Our brains are not as good at juggling various duties at the same time as we may think, and interruptions in attention can negatively affect memory and degrade our efficiency.” This is true for everyone, and especially people over age 60. Resolve to minimize mind-clutter and keep your focus on the task at hand as much as possible.
- Have oatmeal for breakfast. Because it’s delicious, but also because it’s a great source of fiber — you could swap it out for other high-fiber fruits, vegetables, beans, or unprocessed whole grains. According to Georgetown gastroenterologist, most Americans get around 12 to 15 grams a day, ““But recent studies have shown that increasing fiber intake to 25 to 30 grams per day is linked to a lower risk of death from all causes, especially cardiovascular, respiratory and infectious ailments.” I recommend steel cut oats with cinnamon and almond milk. Yum.
- Break out the chocolate bars. The dark chocolate bars, that is — with at least 50 to 70 percent cocoa. Two squares a day (okay, so not the whole bar) is a source of antioxidants, and has been linked to a host of positive health benefits: “the antioxidants in dark chocolate can help decrease blood pressure (in some studies the effect is equivalent to exercising for 30 minutes a day); lower insulin resistance and the risk of Type 2 diabetes; and help protect the lining of the blood vessels, reducing the possibility of stroke and heart attack.” A resolution that’s easy to keep!
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