An unfamiliar noise broke LJ’s concentration. “What is that?” he thought as he got up from his desk chair to investigate. He followed the whirring sound into the family room where Annie was pumping at top speed on their long-forgotten exercycle.
LJ laughed, “Babes, what are you doing?”
“I am getting in shape for 2021. It is going to be an epic year, and I want to make sure I am ready.”
“I thought we were doing pretty well, but if you think we need to step it up a bit, I’m game. So, what’s the plan?’
Annie smiled as she adjusted the hill climb level on the bike. “This is going to kill me, but it only hurts for a day or two,” she thought. “I agree, we are doing pretty well, but there’s always room for improvement. Since we have had to shelter-in-place for so long, we haven’t been doing as much physical exercise as we used to. Also, we have been spending so much time inside, which means we are probably slightly vitamin D deficient. Anyway, I am hoping we can plan to renew and refresh our daily habits around food and exercise, and then resolve to follow through as partners.”
“Oh, you mean like looking at how much water we’re drinking daily, and making adjustments if need be, and creating a new daily exercise routine since we let the old one lapse?”
“LJ, you are always on point. Yes. Let’s start with our water intake. According to the Mayo Clinic, every cell, tissue, and organ in our body needs water to survive. Depending on how active and healthy, men need, on average, 15.5 cups of water per day, and women, 11.5. About 20% usually comes from food and other drinks. Still, the bottom line, most of us are chronically borderline dehydrated, so I propose that we start each day by filling a water filter pitcher and pour from it throughout the day. If we fill it twice a day, once in the morning, and again in the afternoon, we can be sure that we are getting an adequate amount.”
“Ok, Annie, I know I need to increase my water intake. Water plays an important role in how well I feel before, during, and after exercise. I can get the resistance bands out, and we can do some stretching exercises together. Also, signing up for one of Kim Battiste’s https: werkout combos. She advises a three times per week werkout to get and stay in shape. I’m a big fan.”
“Would that be because she’s my fav cousin?” laughed Annie. I agree with you. Whenever I take her classes, I sleep better at night. When I sleep for at least eight hours, I wake up
refreshed and not so hungry because science shows that a lack of sleep releases ghrelin, a hormone tied to hunger, which leads to overeating and weight gain. We now know more than we ever did about the importance of sleep. It is also when we sleep our brain expels the toxins that build up there when we are awake.”
“If it is true when we get adequate sleep, we tend to stay away from poor food choices including sweets and so-called comfort food, that means with the right amount and quality sleep we should be able to stick to a healthy diet. Let’s talk about that. The latest advice is to focus more on primarily plant-based meals and quality and less on calories. High-quality foods are whole fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains, and healthy sources of protein.”
“Yes, three daily meals that include primarily vegetables, healthy protein, followed with whole grains, and fruits is practicing healthy nutrition. We should begin our meals with an expression of gratitude. This helps our body turn on the parasympathetic nervous system, which opens our digestive system, enabling it to efficiently absorb the nutrients in the food. And there’s evidence that concluding the meal with another expression of gratitude also contributes to healthy digestion and a sense of well-being. During the meal when we eat mindfully; chewing each bite 20-30 times, putting the fork down between bites, and spending twenty minutes to eat, all contributes to a healthy relationship with food.”
“Annie,  we also want to spend as much time as possible in service. There’s a tremendous amount of need this year. Every time I volunteer at the local food bank, I learn something new about human generosity and compassion. I have met the best people there on both sides of the table; those giving and those receiving. Indeed, you can’t buy happiness. Service to help others grounded in compassion has been proven to stimulate the brain’s pathways that make you feel good. I like this quote from the Dalai Lama, If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. We may not save the world, but we can step into the new year with a renewed attitude of action and compassion. So, if we drink enough water daily. Exercise consistently, get adequate sleep, eat three high-quality meals a day, make gratitude a daily expression, incorporate mindful eating habits, and participate in service activities. Then 2021 will truly be an epic year. Let’s do it!”

Annie and LJ are a fictional couple introduced to the Healthy Healing Eats blog in January 2020. Their storyline promotes healthy eating and earth-friendly practices.


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