It's a short, short life...

By Brian Cole, Personal Training Associates

Well, how was 2010? Probably some disappointments but some new positive changes, too. Because we have some control over our intentions and attitudes, let's focus 2011 on the potential positives. That's the nice thing about a new year—it is a fresh start.

If you've been busy with all the holidays, your life has been too filled with activity for you to be truly reflective. But now we can take the time to think—about ourselves, about others we care for, about who we are, who we want to be, where we're heading and about why.

So instead of coming up with "New Year's Resolutions" during the hectic month of December by jotting down tired general quips about some vague directions we want to take, let's take the whole month of January to really quietly consider, first idealistic (dream a bit) and then specific realistic improvements we can make.

Start by resolving to carve out some quiet time for yourself. Be specific. Like: throughout the month of January take a daily walk with no cell phone. I know, I know, there are essential, responsible reasons to keep that cell phone handy, but—stop—think about it. The majority of our lives have been lived without one. We can actually drive a car without one. May sound strange, but it can be done. So we can take a daily walk without our cell phone. We have to reduce the chatter with others before we can slow the chatter in our own minds. Walk and relax. Calm our thinking.

With a calm mind, identify and confront what we'd like to improve. We all have room for improvement. My work is about physical improvement. Fortunately that has a positive effect on our emotional well being and on just about every aspect of our general health. The proven benefits of regular daily physical activity/exercise on blood pressure, heart disease, osteoporosis, balance, cholesterol, onset of diabetes, strength, energy, etc. should be all the incentive we need. But look around at your family, friends and neighbors, and you'll see that many of us, maybe most of us, just haven't made our physical self improvement a priority.

We're either working on improvement, or our health is declining. There is no in-between. We can't just stay where we are as time passes.

We've lived our lives in the most desirable conditions in all of human history. Yet I listen to our culture, and instead of appreciation, I hear a lot of ranting and anger. Instead of examples of reaching out to help others, I hear people spouting off as if everything is negative. That point of view is a lot like whining in the middle of abundance. Relax a bit. Enjoy all we have. Just adopting that frame of mind has proven health benefits. There are so many opportunities to improve our health and ourselves. Science, research and the daily creature comforts we have and take for granted can give us time every day. All we have to do is prioritize.

I'm suggesting in January a quiet daily walk to reflect on all we have and to identify some specific improvements we can make. Think about the example you can set for your children, your family, your friends and for people you don't even know but still can influence. As for you, you'll feel better, you'll have more daily energy and you'll be truly healthier. It's a short, short life. Be nice. And take care of yourself, so you can enjoy it even more.

Brian Cole is owner of Personal Training Associates with studios in Newport News (Port Warwick and Hilton Village), and Virginia Beach. He can be reached at 757-599-5999.

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