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You  can’t read the news, a magazine, watch TV, or go online without hearing people talking about Pinterest. When I noticed a lot of my friends (and my mom!) joining a few weeks ago, I joined too and then didn’t do anything with it until last night. I went on a pinning spree–it can be very addictive.

I’ve made a few boards, those of most interest to KateAsana readers are my “health and fitness” and “recipes”  All the recipes are vegeterian (but not all are healthy–I do love desserts), and most things in the health and fitness sections are yoga-related. So if you feel so inclined, you can not follow me on Pinterest. And I might even add the “Pin It” button to my future posts, just in case something I write inspires you.

Follow Me on Pinterest

My last healthy obsession, green tea, has become a staple in our home. And now without even trying I’ve added another one: Seaweed snacks.  I occasionally catch a few minutes of Dr. Oz on weekday mornings (last winter I even attended a taping). A few weeks ago I caught a segment on the “miracle vegetable” seaweed (this article is the gist of the show segment). Dr. Oz tried to convince audience members that seaweed was tasty and not strange, and to try to include it in their diets, touting various kinds as  skin and weight loss aids. I didn’t need convincing that I would like seaweed; I love (vegetarian) sushi and seaweed salad, but I probably only have them once every few months at most. What I didn’t know was that I could get a really delicious seaweed snack at my local grocery store for $1.50, and that it would help my dry (and acne-prone) skin.

These seaweed snacks have become my new healthy obession. I could eat a package a day (although I try to pace myself a bit more than that).  Click here for Nutritional Facts.

My other new healthy is water. Everyone knows you are supposed to drink eight 8oz glasses of water a day, but realistically, even the healiest among us get to busy to remember to do it. And then there’s the coffee, tea, soda, wine, beer, etc. But oddly enough I’ve changed my habits to drink tons of water a day without trying, just by getting a new cup. My fiance brought home a reusable plastic “to-go” type cup that he got for free at work (similar to the ones below), and I’m drinking from it constantly. It’s kind of like an adult sippy cup, but it works.

Just goes to show it’s easy to make small changes to improve your health that don’t have to feel like work.

It’s a slow rebuilding week for many people; work schedules are lighter and the Holiday frenzy is waning. Countless “best of” and “year in review” listicles are popping up in this slow news week.

While you don’t need a new calendar to reflect on your life or seek improvement/change, the end of the year and a stretch of cold dark months ahead does lend itself well to using this week to put 2011 to rest and prepare for 2012.

I found this Reflection Worksheet a nice way to think about everything I acchompished and everything that challenged me in 2011. Here are the questions:

2011 Reflection

  1. What do you want to acknowledge yourself for in 2011?

What did you create?
What challenges did you face with courage and strength?
What promises did you keep?
What brave choices did you make?
What are you proud of?

2. What is there to grieve about 2011?
What was disappointing?
What was scary?
What was hard?
What can you forgive yourself for?

3. What else do you need to say about the year to declare it complete?
The next step is to say out loud, “I declare 2011 complete!”
How do you feel? If you don’t feel quite right, there might be one more thing to say…

4. The final step is to consider your primary focus for the year to come. What is your primary intention or theme for 2012?
Is it the year of joy?
The year of self-care?
The year of kicking ass?
The year of ease?
“2012 is my year of ________”

That last question leads nicely into planning for 2012. While many people make New Years Resolutions (about 45% of Americans), but more than half of them don’t keep them. There is, it seems, something so innate in us that simultaneously  wants to improve ourselves while setting giving ourselves permission to stay exactly the same.

I really like the idea of having one primary focus for the year, rather than a laundry list of unrelated ideas. I’ve done this for the past couple of years: my only resolution for 2010 was “be happier” and my only resolution for 2011 was to be better about staying in touch with my family and friends. Did I falter on these? For sure.  But I think I understand now what could make me more successful on my 2012 goal (2012 is my year of trying my best): defining what my goal means, how I’ll measure/define being successful at it and what concrete things I’ll do.

A great example of this method is The Happiness Project. The author, Gretchen Rubin, has even made a downloadable version of her resolutions chart . Her overarching theme for the year was to “be happier” and from there she figured out things that would improve her happiness (getting rid of clutter, quit nagging, etc) and then devoted one month to actions that accomplished that, while keeping her overall goal in mind.

My 2012 goal of “trying my best” has a lot of meanings: not letting myself get distracted when I’m working, learning new things, being proactive, letting go of jealousy,  being a kinder, more patient person, letting myself off the hook when things go wrong, and more.  I plan to write my 2012 goal and post it on my bulletin board at my desk, so I will be reminded of it everyday.

Another great approach to New Years Resolutions is a list like this one: 30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself. Sometimes the best approach to what you want to do is a focus on what you don’t want to do anymore. Maybe a theme for 2012 could be “the year of letting go” and you could devote each month to something you need to let go of.

If, like many people, you have resolutions of “being healthier,” or “losing weight,” think about how you can approach it (taking out meat or soda from your diet a few days a week, signing up for a beginner’s yoga workshop!, going to bed a half hour earlier each night). If health and yoga are part of your 2012 plans, of course I’d love to help (contact me and we’ll work on a resolution plan!) And if you need further inspiration, check out this awesome 91 year old yoga teacher.

I read an article in Psychology Today over the weekend (sorry I can’t find it online, so I can’t link to it–check out a real life copy, it’s the September/October issue) that extolled the values of green tea. It’s been written about extensively in heath circles, and I always vaguely knew that it was good for me, but the scientific benefits outlined in this article made me an instant convert. I picked up a box at the grocery store last night and since it’s humid and 80 degrees in Brooklyn today, I made a big pitcher of Iced Green Tea.

Here’s just a little of its benefits:

  • The antioxidants found most abundantly in green tea help defend against: heart disease, cancer, obesity, and memory loss (of course you know that you can’t JUST drink green tea to help fight those things right, OK, good.)
  • Slows tumor growth and prevents accumulated toxins from destroying brain cells.
  • Inhibits the formation of arterial plaque  and clots.
  • The caffeine in green tea has been linked in studies to a lower risk of death from stroke and heart disease (38% for men, 22% for women)
  • Increases the number of T cells and boosts immunity (which can help decrease conditions like celiac disease)
  • Give your skin more elasticity, and boots the skin’s natural glow.
Such a small and easy new habit that could over time make a big difference. That’s what positive change is made of. What small changes have you made that have made a big long-term impact.