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Kick the Procrastination Habit

Plain old, garden-variety procrastination is very common. But whether it is related to work, home or personal life, chronic indecisiveness and delay can eventually undermine a healthy lifestyle. The good news is there are simple ways to help overcome these tendencies. You can address procrastination - through behavioral workshops, group therapy, individual therapy, or with some of the following lifestyle strategies:

  1. Break large jobs into small ones. Start with a yearly plan, break it down into months, then weeks, then days. Feel free to specify detailed tasks for the days and weeks only a month or so in advance.
  2. Organize your environment. Chaotic surroundings can be distracting and stressful, and pull your focus from the task at hand.
  3. Schedule your time. If you need to, awake an hour earlier or use part of your break time as a temporary strategy to get tasks accomplished.
  4. Set reasonable goals. Trying to achieve too much in too little time can actually set you back.
  5. Set deadlines to accomplish your larger tasks. When you achieve them, treat yourself to some flowers or a small piece of dark chocolate.
  6. Pace yourself. Work on a task you've been postponing for ten minutes and then decide whether or not to continue. If you discontinue the task, schedule another time to get it done.

Walk Away from Breast Cancer

…and make that a brisk walk. Researchers from Harvard reviewed data from more than 95,000 women who were followed for 20 years. Conclusion: an hour or more of brisk walking daily (or an equivalent activity) made the women 15 percent less likely to develop breast cancer than those who walked less than an hour a week. The exercise seemed to make the difference even after the potential influences of drinking alcohol and excess weight were taken into account. Brisk walking outscored swimming, hiking or jogging in terms of protectiveness. The definition of brisk, according to the researchers: between three to four miles per hour, a pace at which it's difficult to carry on a conversation. While earlier research has shown that exercise might be protective against breast cancer because it reduces levels of estrogen in the blood, this study found that exercise reduced the risk of breast cancers that aren't influenced by estrogen. It was published in the October 25, 2010 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Don't forget: foods to lessen breast cancer risk.


Toasted Grain Pilaf

Traditionally a Middle Eastern pilaf is made with white rice, but here we use a healthful grain, toasting it first to bring out its flavor, and mixing in aromatic vegetables to create a delicious and more nutritious dish.


2 cups millet, quinoa, amaranth or a combination
1/8 teaspoon curry powder (optional)
4 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock (more, as needed)
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (dried in a package, not in oil)
1/2 cup boiling purified water
1/2 cup shredded zucchini
1/2 cup shredded yellow summer squash
1/4 cup minced red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped scallions or green onions
Salt to taste


Toast the millet (or other grains) in a large saucepan set over low heat, stirring it constantly until it turns a light brown color, less than 1 minute. Stir in the curry powder until it is blended in. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Add the chicken or vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer. Check after 20 minutes. If the stock has boiled away, add a little more. Cook until the millet has absorbed all the liquid, about 25 minutes in all.

Meanwhile, soak the dried tomatoes in the boiling water for 15 minutes. Drain them in a colander set over a bowl to reserve the liquid, then chop them. Mix the tomatoes, reserved liquid, zucchini, yellow squash, red pepper, and scallions or green onions together in a small skillet set over low heat and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed. Pour into the cooked grain and toss until everything is completely mixed together. Taste and add salt if you think it is needed. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Tip: You can also make this recipe with brown rice, but the cooking time would increase to 45 minutes.


How to Eat: The Anti-Inflammatory Diet (Video)

This eight-minute video is the distilled essence of my nutritional teaching! In it, I outline the fundamental elements of my Anti-Inflammatory Diet - including what to eat, what not to eat and other essential bites of food wisdom.

Click to see a text version of this video's information on the Anti-Inflammatory Diet.


Feeling Blue? Look to Your Friends

If you are feeling blue, hang out with happy people! Findings show that being around upbeat people can boost your spirits, and that this cheeriness is contagious: it spreads outwards by three degrees, so friends of friends are happy. Investigators from Harvard and the University of California, San Diego, tracked more than 4,700 people over 20 years, each of whom completed a questionnaire about their moods. The results of being a person who always has a smile? You are more likely to be at the center of social networks and have many friends who are happy.  The investigators calculated that each happy friend you have increases your chances of being happy by nine percent, while having downbeat friends reduces the chance by seven percent. It's difficult to say whether acquiring positive friends makes you happy, or whether people who are already cheerful tend to become friends - either way, it can't hurt to surround yourself with positive people!

6 more reasons to be thankful for friends.


Top 4 Tips for Healthy Living

Want to get down to basics? Here are four fundamental tips that can substantially decrease your risk of disease and illness, and greatly improve your quality of life - for the rest of your life. Make the following part of your healthy lifestyle:

  1. Watch your weight. Carrying extra body weight increases the risk of many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, postmenopausal breast cancer and cancer of the uterus, colon, kidney, and esophagus. You can help lose those extra pounds by eating a healthful diet and getting regular physical exercise.
  2. Eat a healthful diet. Fad diets are more popular than ever, but don’t buy into the hype. A healthy diet can be achieved simply by avoiding processed foods and instead focusing on a wide variety of whole, fresh foods, with an emphasis on fruits and vegetables. Use my Anti-Inflammatory Diet Pyramid as a guide - it is not a quick fix diet, but rather an eating plan for life.
  3. Don't smoke. Tobacco addiction is the single greatest preventable cause of illness, and tobacco smoke is the most obvious environmental cause of cancer. Exposure to tobacco smoke increases the odds of developing many kinds of cancer, and raises the risks of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.
  4. Be cognizant of your well-being. Disregard for your health and maintaining unhealthy lifestyle habits can markedly increase the risk of chronic problems in later life. If you like adrenalin highs, whether it’s running a marathon or cliff diving, be careful about how you get them - know the hazards of the activities you choose and how to contain them. By evaluating the short- and long-term risks involved in your behavior, you can help your body to keep working well as you age.

And don't forget to get moving. Advice on keeping your New Year's fitness resolutions.


Biting Your Nails?

Nail biting is one of the most common symptoms of stress. Some people will eventually stop of their own accord, but there are many among us who haven't been able to break the habit. While it can be embarrassing, and thus a source of anxiety as well as a response to it, there are some ways to minimize biting the nails.

  1. Try hypnotherapy as well as relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises, biofeedback or yoga to help reduce underlying stress.
  2. Use a tooth guard. This removable, molded device fits either the upper or lower teeth, is barely visible and makes it impossible to bite the nails.
  3. Paint on “no-bite” nail polish. The off-putting taste of this clear coating is a form of aversion therapy.
  4. Use a rubber band. Place a loose rubber band around your wrist - not tight enough to stop circulation, not loose enough to fall off - and snap it hard enough to make it sting when you feel the urge to bite your nails.

More on dealing with stress.


Worried about Prehypertension?

Prehypertension - also called "high-normal" blood pressure - affects an estimated 25 percent of American adults, about the same number as those diagnosed with high blood pressure. Prehypertension is systolic pressure between 120 and 139 mmHg over diastolic pressure of 80 to 89 mmHg (hypertension is 140/90 mmHg or higher). To prevent or reduce the risk of prehypertension - which can double the risk of heart disease and stroke - try the following:

  • Maintain a healthy weight through exercise and diet.
  • Follow a diet rich in produce and low-fat dairy products, and low in sodium and saturated fats.
  • Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke.
  • Practice relaxing mind-body techniques such as meditation and breath work.
  • Get regular checkups, and follow your physician's advice about any health concerns.