December 27, 2015

10 Ways to LOOK and FEEL FABULOUS in 2016

Author: Dr. Lyz, guest blogger

As we approach the New Year…what is one of the most scariest of words??  Come on, you know what I’m talking about…once the holidays are over and the gifts are either put away or at least stashed in the spare bedroom to organize later, most people have already begun to ponder what they need to do to make THIS YEAR the best one yet.  So...that word we all love to hate?!!!  (Cue in the trumpets….) That’s right – RESOLUTION!! 

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Most people who make a New Year’s Resolution are likely to break it by January 6.  Think about it, it’s like the dieters (who do it all year round but, let’s face it….January is the biggest month for dieting).  You start a diet on Monday, by Wednesday you’ve cheated “just a little” and by Thursday you’re having dessert and telling yourself “I might as well give up and start over on Monday…I’m going to make this weekend worth it!”

So, if that sounded even just a little bit like you, keep reading…there is hope.  Here we go…presenting ten ways, ten strategies really, to start you off on the right foot in 2016.  Hopefully, it will be an easy to remember list that will carry you through at least until February, and if you’re lucky by next December 31 you will have remembered one of the ten tips REALLY well!

Let's go back, a bit...making a resolution is not a bad thing, per se.  But, psychologically, for many people, even the word RESOLUTION produces anxiety.  That sick nervous feeling in your gut, maybe in your chest.  An “I’m never going to be able to make it” kind of thought topped with a dollop of dread.  A RESOLUTION can seem overwhelming, maybe exciting at first for you over-achievers out there, but essentially and eventually, the RESOLUTION seems IMPOSSIBLE.  However, if we just tweak the wording, and our expectations, we have a better chance at success.  Instead of making a RESOLUTION…I would say, start with a PLAN.

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So there it is, folks.  Number 1 – Plan.  Create a plan, make a goal a small one, attainable.  Not, “I want to lose ten pounds by February”.  Because, well although that may be attainable, you probably will have gained most of it back, maybe even a little more, by March.  Start with something tangible, a change in your behavior.  Focus on the action, not the outcome.  For example, I would like to eat more fruits and vegetables.  I will decrease the sugar I put in my coffee from 3 teaspoons to one and a half.  It’s good to have goals.  But to be achievable and effective, and for them to last and really matter, they need to be realistic.  And you have to allow some space for improvement.

So, that takes us to Number 2 – Reflect.  These two are going to go hand in hand.  In order to plan, you have to do a little reflecting.  So, you might spend some time thinking back over the year….what went well, what could have gone better.  Again, good to chunk things in small pieces here.  Reflecting can be a slippery slope lined with regret, if you allow it.  That’s why it’s important to start out with identifying at least one positive reflection.  Maybe you cleaned out that hallway closet.  You bought new tires for your car.  You changed jobs, had a baby, made a new friend, donated your old clothes to charity.  Whatever it is, find SOMETHING positive to reflect upon.  And then allow yourself to briefly ponder the other side.  Don’t get stuck here.  But use the “what I wish I had done” to inform your planning, your goal creation.  Perhaps you meant to visit an old friend from out of town and you just didn’t get around to it last year.  Plan it.  Pencil it in.  And what I really mean is, use your thumbs and type it into your smart phone because, there’s an app for that.
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Phones are a great tool.  I know there are people, researchers out there just chomping at the bit to figure out what this electronic age will have done to humanity.  But, my goodness aren’t they handy, these things? (If you can’t see me I’m holding up my phone).  When you reflect, when you plan, you will be more successful if you jot it down.  Whether that is on paper or your Google calendar, get it in there and set a reminder.  But seriously, everything from returning a library book, to making a dentist appointment, to setting a reminder to talk to the hubby about who is taking the dog to the groomer…PLAN it!!  By jotting, or typing, it down.

I’ve learned about myself, over the years, that I’m terrible at keeping in touch.  My grandmother turned 80 a few months ago, and I realized how little I see of her.  So, I called her up one day and said…let’s get together.  We had a blast, talked for hours, and at the end of it, I said…Gram we need to schedule a date for next month.  She got her wall calendar, I pulled out my phone and we penciled it in.  Number 3 is really important – Nurture Relationships.  I’ll say it again, Nurture Relationships.  People who are most satisfied in life are likely to have fulfilling, positive relationships.  And that might be with family, or not.  Friends -  new friends, old friends, your children, your partner, spouse, whomever.  And you know yourself.  So, for some people relationships are easy and enjoyable.  For others, maybe they take a little more work.  But, whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, it doesn’t matter, the quality (not quantity, let me stress that, the QUALITY) of your relationships can help you FEEL better in you better enjoy your life.

Now, I did say feel AND look your best in 2016, I’m aware…I’m getting there.  Number 4 is a big one.  It’s starting to come together…Number four – Pay Attention to your Health.  Take a breath, I know that one can be scary.  Preventative health care is the way to go.  You are now encouraged (by your health insurance carriers) to be proactive in your health care.  My health care company sent me a $50 gift card just for getting a physical.  Another $50 gift card to sign up on their website and take a health survey.  That’s because preventative health care works.
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We do it for our cars, if you’re smart, that is.  You change the oil when it hits the 5000 mile mark, or is it 3000? – I can’t pretend to know for sure, because, for oil changes, I’m usually a little late.  But, I get the oil changed so that I’m not stuck on the side of the road with a burnt up engine.  Prevention-minded care is important for our bodies too.  We must.  So, going to the doctor, to the dentist for checkups, cleanings, physicals, whatever.  Have your yearly mammogram ladies…so very important.  Men, the prostate check.  Ladies and gents nearing 50... the dreaded colonoscopy.  It really really matters.  Preventative.  That’s the buzz word in health care these days.

And so that takes us to the next few, because they all flow nicely from an intentional effort to be healthy.  Number 5 – Eat well.  You knew it was coming, you just didn’t know what number.  Well, it’s number 5.  When you eat well, you feel well.  Now, eating well, this could be a topic to go on for hours.  But, not today.  There are soooo many fads out there.  I mean, what is a diet if it’s not a fad.  But, truly, I hate the word diet.  It’s like the word RESOLUTION it just breeds anxiety, dread, fear, and failure.  So I don’t say diet.  I’m never on a diet (anymore).  I cringe when I hear other people say it.  What is important is paying attention to what you put in your body.  

I’m going to take a few seconds here to bring in a little bit of science.  Our bodies were designed a loooong time ago.  Before Nutra sweet, before Red Bull, before protein shakes were invented.  We ate from the earth.  Our ancestors, our way-back-in-the-day folks, ate from the earth… fruits, vegetables, meat, WATER.  The more water you drink, the more your body seems to crave it.  Hydrate your body.  A couple of centuries ago, science saw leaps and bounds in advanced food production.  Flour, sugar were manufactured chemically to help preserve food.  So that, instead of having to worry that the meat or fruit would go bad, you could rest assured because you had a loaf of bread in the pantry.  Don’t get me wrong, I love me some pizza…which, by the way is partly made by that chemically designed flour in the chewy crust I love so much.  So, I’m not saying that all you can eat are fruits, vegetables, and meats.  No diet endorsements here.  What I’m saying, is be an informed consumer.  It pays to be smart, to do a bit of research.  Read a book, or skim it, whatever.  But, inform yourself.  And pay attention to your body.  When you allow it to be clean, clean it out, you can hear its messages much more clearly.

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Your body and mind, together are a beautifully amazing system.  They support each other, work off of one another, and are complementary.  Health, both mental health and physical health depend greatly on a well functioning system.  And to work well, the mind and body need to charge.  So, that brings us to Number 6 – SLEEP!!!!!  If your job is so demanding that you can’t fit in enough sleep…then you need to reflect, and maybe make a change.  Now, I know that we have tons of other demands besides work.  But, one of the excuses that I hear most from people who do not get enough sleep is…I’m too busy…work, kids, this, that, the other.  If you look hard enough, you will ALWAYS find one more thing to keep you busy.  Sleep is crucial, beneficial, "fascinating", remarked a Huffington Post article about sleep (Gregoire, 2015).  Folks who average at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep are generally healthier, more content, and even might, thus, outperform their coworkers who average less sleep.  Again, six to eight hours is an average, but there is a wide range.  Some people do need less, some people need more.  Unfortunately most of us are bound by using an alarm clock…in an ideal world you would sleep and wake with the sun.  Sleep is necessary for recharging your body.  Even your skin is clearer, rejuvenated when you get enough sleep. (eh-hem, looking better).

Okay, so let’s review, we talked about the importance of planning, reflecting, nurturing relationships, paying attention to your health, eating well, sleeping.  Next up…Number 7 – Move your body.  You don’t necessarily have to join a gym.  You don’t have to run on a treadmill for 45 minutes.  But you should make movement a major part of your life.  And again, let’s break that down from “a major part of your life” to an encouraging suggestion - “move your body a little more this week”.  Shovel snow, go for a swim, walk the dog.  And, hey, if you’re up for it, do some push ups, or dead lifts.  Physical activity is good for so much.  Not only for physical health and wellness, but to manage and relieve stress.  My mind knows when my body hasn’t moved enough in a few days.  I get cranky, just ask my husband.  But really, moving is great.  Whether you run a marathon or take a stroll around your block, move your body.  Go dancing even!!  It can be fun and good for you!
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And so we come to Number 8 - Play!!  If you’re over the age of 26, listen up here.  Playing is gooooood.  For everyone.  The NFL promotes 60 minutes of play for kids each day to prevent obesity.  Adults need to play as well.  Again, here we revisit some of our previous tips.  You might need to PLAN for play.  That’s okay.  Put it into your Google calendar, just like you did for your brunch date with your gal pal.  Playing means YOU ARE NOT WORKING!! You are laughing, having fun, enjoying life.  Again, playing means different things for different people.  That means, you might have to REFLECT on your own interests.  Maybe you have to REFLECT really far back…old hobbies that have been cast to the back of the closet because you’re too busy.  In playing you might even Move Your Body…like the dancing suggestion.  Check out your local colleges, community colleges offer fun classes – cooking, baking.  Go to the spa.  Have a night out with friends.  Go to the movies.  It doesn’t have to cost money…in winter, go sledding, when it’s warm, head to the local park and play on the swing set.  Those who make time for leisure activity, aka playing, aka fun…get more enjoyment out of life.  They feel better.

I’m going to put sex here in this category.  That’s right, I said it.  Have sex.  Sex is good for you.  Orgasms are sooooo good for you.  Really, for your physical and emotional well being.  Make sex important.  Pencil it in, if you have to.  A New York Times article (Sohn, 2015) quoting therapists who specialize in couples therapy and important issues, like sex in relationships, have said that couples who report the most satisfying sexual relationships are those who plan for sex.  That’s right people…number one on the list goes with number eight on the list.  Sometimes you need to plan it.  And think of how much fun that could add.  If you know, tonight in your calendar is a sex date, you are essentially getting ready for that, even unconsciously, all day long.  And if you’re really playful, maybe you’re even reminding your partner in little ways, texts perhaps, of your upcoming play date.  Just saying….have fun.  Play.  Sex is good.  And healthy.

Some of you, not all of you but some, need to hear Number 9 really loud and clear.  Especially moms, no offense dads but moms really need to hear this one.  Number 9 is Take Time for Yourself.  That’s right, you heard it, Alone Time.  Me Time.  And let the guilt roll off of your back.  Get it out of your head right now.  I can almost hear the “yeah, buts” flying around the air on this one.  “Yeah, but I have to make dinner”.  “Yeah but I have to fold laundry”.  “Yeah right I can’t take me time, I have three kids”.  You neeeeed to take alone time.  You are better for it.  You are a better mother, father, lover, spouse, friend, daughter, son, teacher, coworker.  Whatever you are, whomever you are.  Take time for yourself.  And only you know what you need to do during that time.  But it should be alone.  Think about the last time you spent at least 20 minutes by yourself.  Maybe you need to close your eyes here…What did you do?

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Again…there are lots of choices if you are one of those people who needs to be doing SOMETHING.  Sometimes doing nothing is the best thing you can do! But, If you’re tired, take a nap.  If you’re cranky, go for a walk.  If you’re dirty, wash your face.  If you’re stressed get a massage, get a manicure.  Sit on your deck and have a cup of coffee, a glass of wine, a rum and coke.  Whatever, but do it by yourself.  If you can’t, if that is too scary for you….then you need to do some of the other things on this list so that you like yourself more.  So that you can stand to be with yourself, by yourself.

One of my favorites on this list, I saved for last.  Number 10 is BREATHE.  It may sound simple, but hear me out.  BREATHE.  I want you all to humor me a bit here.  Put one hand on your belly and one on your chest, give a little sigh.  And then take a deep breath for me.  So, a lot of us learned that to take a deep breath meant chest breathing.  However, when you do that, you can feel a sense of pressure there.  The breath gets caught, per se, in your chest.  Your chest, your shoulders, jaw…those areas hold a lot of stress, a lot of tension.  I want you to try something new with me.  Some of you might already do this and it’s great if you do.  This time, I want you to try to make that breath go past your chest and all the way down to your belly.  So that when you take that deep breath in, you are essentially puffing out your belly like a balloon.  And now exhale and your belly goes down.  You might have to try it a few times.  Don’t worry, it can feel tricky.

But when you get it…oh how you breathe.  I love the breath.  I really do.  It’s one of the little lessons I tried to teach my kids when they were super young…How to use their breath.  So now my daughter, she taught me this cute little saying…smell the flowers, blow out the candles.  She heard that somewhere and it helps her remember.  Your breath is an anchor.  It’s one of the things that you can count on, it’s with you wherever you are…even if you forget your phone, you always have your breath.

I could go on and on about the breath, but I want you to hear me on this one thing.  We spend so much time in our heads.  It’s like our sixth sense, you know the five senses…hear, smell, taste, see, touch.  Well, our thoughts and the feelings that are connected to them, demand a ton of energy.  We think about the past, with feelings both positively and negatively charged.  Guilt, remorse, happiness, elation, excitation.  And we can get stuck there.  Same with our worry or rumination about the future…the what-ifs and the what’s next and the how am I ever going to finish that project on time?  And we can get stuck there as well.  Use your breath to bring you back.  Bring yourself back to this moment.  Slow down.  Pay attention.  Use your other five senses.  They’re great.  Be present in your life, be present in today.

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Okay, so I outlined 10 ways to look and feel better in 2016:
  1. Plan
  2. Reflect
  3. Nurture Relationships
  4. Pay attention to your health
  5. Eat Well
  6. Sleep
  7. Move your body
  8. Play
  9. Take Time for yourself
  10. Breathe
Now, I want to give you just one more to end on, a bonus.  Take a Risk.  I want you to identify one thing that you will do as a result of reading this.  One concrete action.  That means it has to start with “I will…” and include a verb.  An action word.  And not, "I will lose ten pounds by February".  Take a Risk, make a plan. “I will call my friend, so-and-so to plan a lunch date”.  “I will make myself an appointment at the spa”.  “I will download Google calendar so that I can plan”.  Those are some examples.  Now, for fun, close your eyes and actually picture yourself achieving this goal.  Go through the motions in your mind’s eye.  Make a personal movie right there in that blank space behind your forehead.  (Go ahead, close your eyes and try it.) 
When you do those things, talk about your goals, write them down, use imagery to see yourself accomplishing them, you are more likely to succeed.  Take a risk on you....use these tips to LOOK and FEEL FABULOUS in 2016!!

--- Dr. Lyz

Lyz DeBoer Kreider, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist working in the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania.  Find her at

Gregoire, C.  (2015, December 22). 8 Fascinating Things We Learned About Sleep in 2015. Huffington Post. Retrieved

Sohn, A. (2015, July 1). First Comes Sex Talk With These Renegades of Couples Therapy. New York Times. Retrieved from

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