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A Clean Slate

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Why do we wait for the year to end to begin a new fitness program or change in lifestyle? We seem to wait for some demarcation in time to start a diet, get back to the gym, change our negative behaviors, forgive and forget, look for a new job or make major changes in our lives. Every day is an opportunity to change for the better.

Still, a simple flip of the calendar page may be what you need to spark a new beginning. So here are some things to consider:



  • Plant power. I'm helping one of my sisters, who weighs 275 pounds and is a Type 2 diabetic. She knows that she's eaten herself into this condition, and she knows she has the power to change at any time. I have taught her that it's not so much about caloric intake as it is about the quality of food she eats. Too much animal protein, dairy, sugar and fried, processed and refined foods are the downfall to a healthier new you. A plant-based diet is a better plan for weight loss, cancer prevention and reversal of heart disease and diabetes.



  • Nature's effects. Avoid toxic food additives such as dyes, pesticides, MSG, partially hydrogenated oils and artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame and sucralose. Eating more fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains; drinking more clean, filtered water and fewer sugary soft drinks; and increasing your daily intake of fiber and omega 3 fatty acids will also help you lose weight, maintain good health and provide you with more energy.



  • Having fun. The Wellness Village at Starling in Richmond's West End has beautiful themed massage rooms such as a tropical oasis, an Egyptian room and a Native American room. The center also offers Pilates, massage, yoga and acupuncture.



  • Vegetarian style. Have you tried a vegetarian meal or restaurant lately? Many restaurants offer vegetarian choices on their menus. Palani Drive on Libbie Avenue has a marvelous spicy Thai wrap. Joe's Inn in Bon Air has the Immunity Bowl, a healthy salad that is a favorite of mine with assorted greens, berries and nuts. Ipanema Cafe in the Fan offers vegan and vegetarian meals, but it's best to go for lunch or early dinner, as smoking is allowed after 10 p.m.



  • Adding rhythm to the routine. For the physical side of a healthy new you, what about taking dance lessons (think "Dancing With the Stars")? Dance Masters in Lakeside offers classes in ballroom, salsa, country/Western and many other styles. Richmond is full of dance studios and academies where you can learn tap, jazz or ballet, and many gyms offer dance and hip-hop classes.



    This year, focus on the blessings in your life, and learn to nurture and heal yourself mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally. Taking care of yourself means you can take better care of those you love.



    Tami Hulcher is a health educator, mother of three, and president and chief executive of Ola Loa Inc. For more information, call 323-3222 or visit www.thequeenofhealth.com.
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