“... It’s a lovely day today

But if you’ve something that must get done

Now don’t forget two heads are better than just one ...”

“It’s A Lovely Day Today” —Irving Berlin, 1950

Here we are at my ninth wellness column and I’m determined to get more of you doing all the things I’ve recommended and explained in the first eight. What has been shown to be true in countless studies over the years, is that there are supportive structures that impact how well people manage their health. Today, I pray that you adopt the ones I’ve found are key to making the most positive difference.

They are:

Planning: Having a plan and sticking to it feeds self-esteem and builds feelings of personal integrity. Plan your work and work your plan. We’ve all heard this many times before, for good reason—it works.

Tracking: Keeping track allows review, progress assessment and downsized wardrobe rewards, as gleefully warranted. Think of sticks followed by carrots. Keep your checklist and notes in plain sight.

Buddying: Motivation, accountability and support are all improved when your plan includes a buddy. Accountability and support are great motivators.

Attitude: It bears repeating that an attitude of gratitude and responsibility are the gas and the oil that keep your emotional and psychological engine going.

Plan specifics

1) Sleep: Set yourself up for success by getting a good night’s sleep. The latest research shows that more than eight hours of sleep is beneficial, so I’m striving for nine. Kill your snooze alarm, forever—it ruins your sleep cycles.

2) Right start: When you first wake up, get up! No snooze bar. Begin with a quick trip to the bathroom to tinkle and weigh yourself. The facts are the facts. Drink your “first-thing” water and continue to hydrate sufficiently throughout the day for optimal support of all your body’s systems. Do your “deep-breath” stretching and pray ... thank God for all the support He is sending you today.

3) Food: Eat three “protein-centric” meals each day (30+grams of protein per meal), with no snacks in between. In order for muscles to repair, the body must have adequate protein. In addition, the muscles must be activated through stretching and weight-bearing exercise. The reason this is so vital is that muscle health is the single greatest indicator of longevity.

4) Be active: Wherever possible take advantage of the twofer by adding exercise to every activity you can. Listen to audio books, dance to uplifting music, think while you move. Plan, recommit, give yourself a pep-talk while taking a walk. Become more active in every way you can think of. Choose the parking spot that’s farthest away from the door when shopping!

5) Mindset: The glue that holds together everything listed above. Deciding to make wellness a top priority and having an overall wellness mindset are choices. All the little decisions make a difference because they add up. A smartphone and/or fitness watches such as Apple, Fitbit or Garmin can be great aids to your mindset and attitude. Technology impacts the way we think about and engage in daily activity. Most importantly, you are in charge of the critical components. Mindset, attitude and commitment to a healthful lifestyle are key ... and there’s no substitute for a good dose of playful and positive mental attitude.

In the context of wellness and the spirit of a healthy community, who are your buddies? They’re people with similar objectives, they’re fun to be with, they embrace the plan, and given the fluctuations in enthusiasm and commitment from one day to the next, they are people who can pump you up in sticking to the program. On days when they’re the ones in need of motivation, you can reciprocate by being their cheerleader!

“Marilyn! Goodness gracious! This is a lot you’re piling on us. Is it worth it?” Each element of the right plan makes a difference. All of the above is foundational to the healthful lifestyle that gets you feeling better and better as the weeks fly by. I assure you, it IS worth it. As a matter of fact ... the quality of your life depends on it.

Make it a great day. Be kind to one another, and to yourselves.

Marilyn McConnell is a wellness expert who, over three decades in Toronto and Chicago, has helped people with personal presentation, weight loss, longevity, organization, downsizing and related lifestyle design. She now lives in Arcadia, much closer to her immediate family. 312-659-2424

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