Since body and mind are entwined, feeling better mentally means taking care physically. For me that means a little jog three or four times a week. Revving my heart rate is the obvious benefit, but the other perk is experiencing early-morning nature, which always helps me start my day content. For those who want a slower pace, a brisk walk is effective and much easier to get excited about.
To minimize exercise excuses, keep multiple weights of clothes to match the weather. And, unless you're in real pain, don't use the familiar aches as an excuse for malingering. I'm often a little creaky the first few minutes, but eventually the kinks work themselves out, and I'm always happy I took the time.
On the mornings I'm not running I go to yoga — another good-for-the body, good-for-the-mind practice. Between all the stretchy poses and the moments of silence that bookend the hour-long class, I'm energized and ready to face the day. And whether it's a headstand (yes, my 80-year-old friends in the class do them) or some other head-down position, we nearly always do something to bring the blood to our brains. Our teacher calls it a natural antidepressant. We call it "poor man's high."
As always, check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise regimen.
After all the saccharine holiday treats, it's always a relief to return to a satisfying but cleaner way of eating. After all the rich smoked salmon and ham, turkey and lamb, I'm ready to reduce my protein and keep it lean. The following recipes exemplify a typical post-holiday way of eating.
This time of year I love oatmeal, especially the chewy steel-cut variety. Since it takes longer to cook than rolled oats, I'm not usually patient enough to cook it in the morning. But I've discovered it will thicken and warm in a low-temperature oven overnight. Just pop it in before you go to bed, and it's ready whenever you are in the morning. Toasting the oatmeal before putting it in the oven increases flavor, but you can skip that step and it's still delicious.
For lunch or dinner try bright, colorful crisp cumin-seared shrimp over confetti slaw. The warm shrimp over the cool slaw is a refreshing combination, a welcome reminder that sunnier weather is only a few months away.
Risotto is usually made with extra starchy white short-grain Arborio rice. By par-cooking brown rice while you're preparing your other ingredients you can turn this luxurious rice dish into an equally delicious, super-healthy supper.
There's no point getting cranky that the sun is setting way too early and rising long after we've woken up. Appreciate the extra time to rest, and then stay active and eat well.
Next page: Toasted steel-cut overnight oatmeal. »