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Six Habits of Healthy People
(Part 1 of 2)

There's a saying by Benjamin Franklin that goes, "Watch the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves." When we're talking about fitness, another way of putting it is, "Watch your habits and your health will take care of itself."

It's the little things you do every day that end up having a significant impact. The accumulation of all the good (or bad) stuff over time determines both the quality and quantity of your life. Part of my job as a personal trainer is re-educating people and helping them break bad habits, while building good ones. I'm going to share with you the six habits I'd like you to break and what you should do in their place.

Number one: Quit drinking your calories. A glass of soda has grown from a respectable 8 ounces in the 1950s to 32 ounces today. A 32-ounce cup of Coca-Cola holds 388 calories. Order a large drink and it can hold 86 ounces of soda and an unbelievable 1043 calories. There are very few people who work out hard enough to burn off that many calories.

Then there's alcohol. A single 5-ounce glass of red wine has lots of documented benefits, but I don't know many people who stop at just 5 ounces. It's easy to start with a single drink before dinner, have another one during the meal and when you're done finish off the bottle since it's almost empty already. Drinking three small glasses will hit your waistline with 382 calories. What's worse, it lowers your inhibitions and you're more likely to overeat and indulge in things loaded with empty calories. Here's the solution.

Drink nothing but water for 30 days. The only exception is a glass, 24 ounces or less, of coffee or tea, without sugar or anything other than fat-free milk. Your goal is to break the cycle of cravings that sugary or artificially sweetened drinks can give you. After 30 days, look at the drinks that are beneficial to you and only add the good ones back.

Number two: Sleep 8 hours every night. Over the last 100 years, we've been getting progressively less shut-eye. It started when Mr. Edison lit up the night with the first mass-market light bulbs. Then came radio with late-night news, drama and entertainment. That was followed by TV, cable networks and 24-hour programming, video games, cell phones, computers and the internet. Now we stay up watching reruns of TV shows we've already seen, surfing websites we don't care about and texting long conversations when a simple phone call will do.

Getting enough sleep is crucial to helping your body perform well. People who sleep less than seven hours are more prone to obesity, have higher levels of anxiety, depression and hypertension. Here's how to find the time.

Schedule and limit the time you spend on "electronic activities." That means sending out and responding to emails, watching TV and playing video games. Set up specific times for everything. For example, I check my email three times a day. I go online first thing in the morning, at noon and again in the evening. I also turned off my mail auto-notification. That means I'm not interrupting my work every 10 minutes to see what's come in. I get back to everyone within a reasonable time and I'm not anchored to my computer.

Instead of being on "TV Time," I have a digital video recorder (like TiVo) that tapes the programs I want so they'll be available at my convenience. I can also fast forward through the ads I don't like. Finally, I use a kitchen timer to monitor how long I play video games. When the timer goes off, I'm done. I do the least stressful things last, so I can relax and unwind before going to sleep.

These two ideas are just the beginning. Click the 2 below for three more ideas.

Part 1 2

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