A potato comes from the ground, an egg from a hen. But where did that Pop-tart come from? "Unprocessed, whole foods will give you the most benefits," Berman says. Processing takes out nutrients such as antioxidants and fiber. What's worse is that a lot of processed foods tend to sneak in things that aren't really necessary like extra sodium and sugar. There's nothing wrong with indulging the occasional processed food craving (sometimes a bag of potato chips is too hard to resist!). But if you're trying to shop healthier altogether, be on the lookout for products that have been minimally processed.
Mostly, I’m overcome with joy at the opportunity. If I was still actively addicted, this trip would be unlikely. If it happened, chances are I’d jeopardize myself by getting lost, going home with the wrong person, or getting kicked off a plane for being impaired and obnoxious. Instead, I’m wide eyed, awake and life feels quite complete. If I die, it will be knowing I’ve made amends for my mistakes, and I won’t be embarrassed by what anyone finds on my phone or in my closets at home. (Maybe a tiny bit embarrassed, but whatever. I’m human. I’m single. It’s not that weird.)
Since it was winter vacation, I hadn’t really planned ahead for this scenario. My luggage contained one exercise outfit: long, black leggings, and a thick, double layered top – also black. At least it wasn’t long sleeved. This was the type of outfit you’d pack if you planned to power walk outdoors in near freezing weather. An outfit you would layer under a sweater and match with gloves and boots- not proper attire for doing push-ups in a sauna.
Even more important than shopping for healthy foods: actually eating them. When you get home from the store or farmer's market, bounty of fruits and veggies in tow, wash and chop them right away and store in a pretty glass container in your fridge. "Studies show that spending more time on food prep is linked to better eating habits," says Dr. Lipman. It's all about convenience—if they're ready for you, you'll grab them in a pinch. If not? It's chips and dip time. You can also do this with other foods, like making a batch of quinoa for the week or roasting a bunch of veggies to throw together for quick lunches.
For a 2,000-calorie daily diet, aim for 2½ cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit a day. If you consume more calories, aim for more produce; if you consume fewer calories, you can eat less. Include green, orange, red, blue/purple, and yellow vegetables and fruits. In addition to the fiber, the nutrients and phytochemicals in these foods may help protect against certain types of cancer and other diseases. Legumes, rich in fiber, can count as vegetables (though they have more calories than most vegetables). For more fiber, choose whole fruits over juice.
Spend 15 to 30 minutes every single day listing off what you have to be grateful for. Even if you feel like you have nothing to be grateful for, search for something. Maybe you’re in a financial hole, but at least you have the intellect in your mind and the ability to walk, talk, and reason. If you search, you can always find something to be grateful for.
Yet, as Brinkmann’s title makes clear, standing still is precisely what he proposes that we do. Enough of our mania to be the best and the most, he says. It’s time to content ourselves with being average. With pride, he tells us that, when he and his colleagues at Aalborg University were asked to propose institutional development goals, he suggested “that we should strive to become a mediocre institute.” (“I thought it was a realistic goal worth pursuing for a small university,” he explains. His colleagues did not agree.) And enough of self-acceptance, too—in fact, enough of the self! “Being yourself has no intrinsic value whatsoever,” Brinkmann tells us. Maybe the Norwegian nationalist Anders Breivik felt that he was being “true to himself” when he went on his murderous rampage; maybe Mother Teresa did not. What difference does it make? If you must engage in soul-searching or self-analysis, Brinkmann advises limiting it to once a year, preferably during summer vacation.
When I first smoked at 14 years old (and continued for 8 years, minus 9 months of pregnancy), it was the best kind of dangerous fun. I was rebellious, wise, untouchable. Slinking into a store at age 36, making sure no one recognizes me, and asking for “camel crush – yeah the blue box” without meeting the attendants’ eyes, doesn’t have the same ego-stroking appeal. Honestly I was miserable. I succumbed to an obsessive-compulsive drive to do something I was bizarrely convinced would help me overcome anxiety. It only managed to increase the compulsion, all the while invoking deep shame and disappointment. It was repetitious, unfulfilled desperation, with nausea as a side effect. The empty, achy place inside of me found minor temporary relief, but I was simultaneously cognitively aware that the tobacco/poison filled paper sticks offered nothing but dirty lungs, yellow teeth and nasty headache when I eventually quit. Ruminating over all of this, I lit another smoke.
To begin a Master Action List, write down or type absolutely everything no matter how small. Develop the list without considering the importance or significance of each item. You will do this later. Remove everything out of your head and get it onto your list. Write down all things for which you have even the smallest responsibility to change, finish, get involved with or handle. Once completed, create sub lists by grouping and consolidating similar actions. Some tasks may be associated with certain days of the week or need to be done in a specified location or even with a particular person. Categories can be things like errands, calls to make/return, online actions, computer work, things pending or awaiting response, house projects, bills/finance, etc.
Backward Scheduling: Too much to do every day? Use this simple technique to determine a realistic schedule. Write down everything you want to get done today. Then put a time estimate on each task (make sure it's not a multi-day project!) and add up the time. Things always seem to take more time than we expect so overestimate a bit Compare what you have to do with how much time you have available and adjust to fit. Of course, some things will have to move to tomorrow. At least now you're in control. Schedule your tasks into the day beginning with the time you need to finish.
Greens, oranges, reds, purples, yellows...you get the picture. Eating the rainbow will supply your body with a range of disease-fighting phytonutrients, and will naturally fill you up to help you cut back on unhealthy foods, says Dr. Lipman. Plus, most adults struggle with getting the recommended five servings a day (though some say seven servings). A worldwide study in 2014 found 58 to 88% of adults don't hit that mark. Aiming for a diverse intake of produce from all colors of the rainbow will help you boost your intake. In another study, adults who were offered a variety of vegetables ate more of them without increasing the calories at the meal, found a 2012 study.
Self-help advice tends to reflect the beliefs and priorities of the era that spawns it. A decade ago, the reigning champion of the genre was “The Secret,” published in 2006 by an Australian, Rhonda Byrne. Like Norman Vincent Peale before her, Byrne combined a literal interpretation of select verses from the Christian Bible—notably Matthew 21:22, “Whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, ye shall receive”—with the acquisitive gospel of positive thinking. If you sent a wish out into the universe with enough faith, she told her readers, it could come to pass. Want to find a husband? Clean out a closet for the man of your dreams and imagine him hanging up his ties. Want to get rid of your glasses? Picture yourself acing your next vision exam and kiss those progressive lenses goodbye. In retrospect, “The Secret,” which sold more than twenty million copies worldwide, seems a testament to the predatory optimism that characterized the years leading up to the financial crisis. People dreamed big, and, in a day of easy money, found that their dreams could come true. Then the global economy crashed, and we were shaken violently awake—at least for a time.
You will gain perspective on who you are, where you are and where you are going. When incompletions are handled, one can see what is and has been around them, including one's self. You will see situations as they really are, you'll discern what is going on with you and around you and you'll react less and choose more in your daily life. This higher perspective is essential in the process of designing one's life and it starts with the Clean Sweep Program.
As Editor for The Muse, Alyse is proud to prove that yes, English majors can change the world. Her work has been featured in Fast Company, Forbes, Inc., Motto, CNBC's Make It, USA Today College, Lifehacker, Mashable, and more. She calls many places home, including Illinois where she grew up and the small town of Hamilton where she attended Colgate University, but she was born to be a New Yorker. In addition to being an avid writer, Alyse loves to dance, both professionally and while waiting for the subway.