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Happy New Year! I don’t know about you, but I do believe that I had the absolute best holiday ever. I didn’t receive any elaborate gifts or go to any huge galas, but I did get to enjoy some warm, intimate times with those closest to me. And for that I am so grateful. I also got to enjoy my Mom’s cookies. A lot. My mom likes to bake, and of course I got to sample all of her handiwork. Yum! The added sweets, along with larger and richer than usual holiday dinners, can leave us feeling a bit, um, expanded in the New Year. The media industry knows this, and has promptly issued several new diet books and other resources to help us slim down, de-stress, and detox. Here’s a few motivational finds that have come my way as of late.

Get En-Light-ened
Obesity and nutrition experts Deborah Kesten and Larry Scherwitz claim in their new book, "The Enlightened Diet: 7 Weight-Loss Solutions That Nourish the Body, Mind and Soul", that if you identify your particular eating style, you can nix negative habits and get control of your weight.

The authors based their book on a study that identified seven specific patterns of eating that predict weight gain. The book profiles these eating styles and presents specific strategies and a comprehensive program for reversing them. A few of them include food fretting, which can be minimized by thinking of food and eating as a social, ceremonial, and even sensual pleasure; emotional eating, which they say is best combated by eating only for pleasure and when you’re feeling good; and task snacking (as in eating in the car or at the computer) may be remedied by bringing moment-to-moment non-judgmental awareness to each aspect of a meal. And avoid eating while doing other activities. For more info, visit www.EnlightenedDiet.com.

Eat Like a Warrior
In "The Warrior Diet", author Ori Hofmekler argues that to obtain and maintain a lean, mean physique we need to eat like the lean, mean warriors of ancient Rome and Greece. Not to be confused with the popular “caveman” diets, the Warrior Diet reportedly shows us how to “nourish the body in accordance with its innate circadian clock, carefully distinguishing between a.m. foods and p.m. foods for improved metabolism and increased energy.” While focusing on lean protein (chicken, fish, eggs), unrefined carbs (rice, potatoes, oats), and fresh fruits and vegetables, the Warrior Diet wants us to eat one large meal at dinner and virtually nothing for the rest of the day. And he explains how to do this without a blood sugar crash or passing out from starvation. Visit www.warriordiet.com to learn more.

Slim Down at the Spa
Rather than stay at home with a diet book, you could kick off the year with a respite at your favorite nearby spa. Today’s facilities offer way more than a good massage: more and more spas provide complete wellness packages, with fitness, nutrition, and holistic health services all at the guest’s disposal. Wellness; meaning a spa that caters to body, mind, and spirit, is just one of the spa industry trends listed by SpaFinder, which recently issued its predictions for 2008. Others include:

The Feng Shui’d Gym. Rather than bright lights and TVs, think waterfalls, fine art and, more in general, a design and ambience that one might find in a spa.

The Star Therapist. Increasingly savvy spa-goers will come to seek out and reward talented therapists.

Wellness, Wellness, Wellness. Wellness is becoming increasingly central to the spa experience, with fitness, nutrition, education, as well as alternative practices such as energy medicine, reiki, and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), all becoming important aspects of “spa.”

Luxury Detox and Bootcamps. Detox programs and weight loss bootcamps have long been associated with deprivation and suffering. But many spas are beginning to treat them less as “punishments” and more as "celebrations". After all, if you can get the same results with high thread count sheets, spa treatments and a sense of community, why not live a little while trying to improve your life?

Taking Sleep Seriously, Especially if you Want to Lose Weight. With recent studies highlighting the importance of sleep for everything from improved productivity at work to cardiovascular health, SpaFinder forecasts that sleep will be taken even more seriously in the year ahead. Look for more hotel spas to bring in sleep directors, and more destination spas to offer sleep programs.

Hydro and Thermal Super-Experiences. The European tradition of alternating hydro/thermal experiences is catching on worldwide and being interpreted in new and often spectacular ways.

Plug-in or Unplug. Is it more relaxing to go to a spa and stay plugged in to a computer or Blackberry, or to unplug and get away from it all? It’s a subjective call, so it’s fitting that the trend will be toward letting the guest decide.

Fitness Trends For 2008
Spas aren’t the only health-minded facilities with new programs on the horizon. Fitness centers have come up with a host of new classes that work us in new ways. This year, expect to see more routines that focus on core strength and stability, as well as balance and flexibility. Equinox’s Speedball, for example, combines Pilates with medicine ball work to build coordination and control.

Dance classes of various forms will continue to be popular; for an alternative to step or hip hop classes, try Crunch Fitness’ World Beat Dance or Evolution of Dance. Exercise in the workplace, we predict, will gain more momentum in the New Year, with more companies offering on-site fitness programs and facilities. If you’re already a regular exerciser, you may be able to win big if they offer an employee reward program.

Mind/Body Workouts will likely see large attendance numbers, with more classes combining Yoga, Pilates, and Meditation with other modalities.

Have a Stress-Less New Year
Now that we’re back in the groove after the holidays, it may seem as if our workload at the office has tripled in the New Year. With technology allowing us to send and receive information at rapid-fire rate, it’s important to manage our time wisely, so that we don’t remain in constant crisis mode. This month, Shape magazine presents its tips for “Beating Deadline Stress at Work.” Adopt these strategies and just see if you can make it home for some quality time with your friends, family, or just yourself.

Learn How to Focus. Train your brain to filter out irrelevant information. Don't answer your phone when working on a project and designate a few times a day to answer your e-mail.

Be Realistic. When you're under stress your brain loses its ability to work capably. If you have many projects on your plate, ask your manager to help you determine each one's urgency.

Reward Yourself. If your report is due by 5 p.m., you're more likely to finish on time if you plan to take a yoga class at 6 p.m. You are far more efficient if you are going to do something you enjoy later on.

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 78 - April 1912
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