8 ways to get happy, healthy in 2017 (it isn’t too late)

Who says you have to wait un­til 2018 for do-over?

The Hamilton Spectator - - LIVING - SARAH GISH

It hap­pens ev­ery year.

On Jan. 1, we set over-the-top am­bi­tious New Year’s res­o­lu­tions to, say, lose 15 pounds, de­clut­ter the whole house and fi­nally kick credit card debt to the curb. Then life hap­pens, and by Fe­bru­ary those res­o­lu­tions evap­o­rate like spilled cham­pagne.

But who says you have to wait un­til 2018 for a do-over? Now might be the per­fect time for a res­o­lu­tion re­set. Here are eight lifes­im­pli­fy­ing tools that might in­spire you to keep reach­ing for a hap­pier and health­ier 2017.

Eat bet­ter

Crash di­ets are so 2016. If you want a healthy eat­ing plan that sticks, try the no-gim­micks DASH Diet, which em­pha­sizes whole foods and doesn’t omit any food group, such as grains, meat or dairy.

The diet was de­signed to lower blood pres­sure but is rec­om­mended for any­one look­ing to lose weight, lower choles­terol, im­prove heart health or man­age di­a­betes. It was re­cently ranked the No. 1 best diet over­all for the sev­enth year in a row by U.S. News & World Re­port.

Want to get cook­ing? Check out “DASH Done Slow: The DASH Diet Slow Cooker Cook­book” (Rock­ridge Press, 2016). Its 100 recipes re­quire no more than 10 ingredients and 15 min­utes of prep time. Ex­am­ples in­clude Chicken Bur­rito Bowls, Pork Chili Verde, Red Beans and Rice, and Maple Ba­nana Sun­daes.

Master your gad­gets

Do you know how to re­cover photos after ac­ci­den­tally delet­ing them? Or how to bring a damp smart­phone back from the dead?

“Pogue’s Ba­sics: Tech” (Flat­iron Books, 2014) is ba­si­cally a user’s man­ual for all the gad­gets in your life. It’s writ­ten by David Pogue, a for­mer New York Times writer, so it reads more like a se­ries of en­gag­ing tech col­umns than a text­book.

The book is chock full of tips and tricks that will help you master your de­vices, email, so­cial net­works and more. Con­sider it the an­ti­dote to a dis­or­ga­nized dig­i­tal life.

Stress less

If in­creas­ing mind­ful­ness is at the top of your to-do list but you can’t seem to carve out five min­utes a day to med­i­tate, try Headspace, an anx­i­ety-bust­ing app that bills it­self as a “gym mem­ber­ship for your mind.” Since launch­ing in 2010, Headspace has amassed more than 5 mil­lion users. Ac­tress Emma Wat­son calls it “kind of ge­nius.” New­bies should start with Headspace’s free in­tro­duc­tory se­ries, Take10, which in­cludes 10 ses­sions, each of which is 10 min­utes long. The first quickly qui­ets the mind with breath­ing and lis­ten­ing ex­er­cises.

Those who want to dive deeper into med­i­ta­tion might con­sider spring­ing for a mem­ber­ship, which costs $12.95 per month or $7.99 per month with a one-year com­mit­ment.

Give back

Want to bet­ter your com­mu­nity in 2017? It’s not too late to start giv­ing time or money to a cause that speaks to you.

Check out canada­helps.org to find char­i­ties in Hamil­ton or fur­ther afield, search­ing by com­mu­nity cat­e­gory.

Get fit

There’s al­ways a rea­son not to go to the gym. It’s too cold. It’s too late. You missed that class. You for­got those shoes.

Skip the ex­cuses and start work­ing out at home with a stream­ing ser­vice such as Daily Burn, which is like Net­flix for fit­ness fans. For $14.95 per month, you get ac­cess to more than 600 work­outs, in­clud­ing yoga, dance, car­dio and weightlift­ing. The sweat ses­sions are led by cer­ti­fied train­ers such as Bob Harper from NBC’s “The Big­gest Loser” and range from be­gin­ner-friendly to ad­vanced. New­bies can sign up for a free trial at dai­ly­burn.com.

Ath­letic types might pre­fer Beach­body on De­mand, a stream­ing ser­vice for high-in­ten­sity work­outs such as P90X, Insanity and Tur­boFire, a 90-day car­dio con­di­tion­ing pro­gram. The pro­gram also of­fers a free 30-day trial pe­riod. After that, it’s about $10 per month with a six-month com­mit­ment.

Clear clut­ter

If par­ing down pos­ses­sions is your goal, get in­spi­ra­tion from the Min­i­mal­ists, two 30-some­thing friends who dropped out of cor­po­rate ca­reers and “con­sumer-driven life­styles” in pur­suit of the simple life.

The Min­i­mal­ists, oth­er­wise known as Joshua Fields Mill­burn and Ryan Ni­code­mus, have shared their phi­los­o­phy in books, es­says, a doc­u­men­tary and a free podcast called (what else?) “The Min­i­mal­ists.” Since it launched a year ago, it has be­come the No. 1 health podcast on iTunes. The 50-plus episodes fo­cus on liv­ing a mean­ing­ful life with less stuff, so it’s only nat­u­ral that the first is called De­clut­ter.

One strat­egy in that episode: com­mit to a 30-day de­clut­ter­ing chal­lenge with a friend. Get rid of one ob­ject on the first day, two on the sec­ond day and so on. The per­son who gets fur­thest in the 30day chal­lenge wins.

The podcast isn’t just about stuff, though. Other episodes fo­cus on ditch­ing bag­gage when it comes to par­ent­ing, debt, travel and re­la­tion­ships.

Up pro­duc­tiv­ity level

Any­one who uses a plan­ner to stay or­ga­nized knows that daily to-do lists can quickly get out of con­trol. As the day goes on, the list grows — and so does the de­sire to pro­cras­ti­nate.

The Pro­duc­tiv­ity Plan­ner, a daily or­ga­nizer from the Toron­to­based com­pany In­tel­li­gent Change, helps you fo­cus on im­por­tant tasks, “not the busy work that makes days slip away.”

Each page fea­tures an in­spi­ra­tional quote (Ex­am­ple: “Why do any­thing un­less it is go­ing to be great?”) and blank lines for the day’s most im­por­tant, se­condary and ad­di­tional tasks.

You write in a tar­get and ac­tual time for each task, and at the end of the day, rate your pro­duc­tiv­ity on a scale from 1 to 10.

The goal of the Pro­duc­tiv­ity Plan­ner, which costs $24.95 at in­tel­li­gentchange.com, is to tune out dis­trac­tions and home in on what re­ally mat­ters.

After all, isn’t that what we all want in 2017?

MARTIN POOLE, GETTY IM­AGES

If you want a healthy eat­ing plan that sticks, try the no-gim­micks DASH Diet, which em­pha­sizes whole foods and doesn’t omit any food group, such as grains, meat or dairy.

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