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The Daily Star
THURSDAY, 24 APR 2014
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This year I will: spend more, drink daily, and get dirty
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BEIRUT: It’s that time of the year again, when the pressure to draw up a list of New Year’s resolutions mounts, even though you can already predict that you are unlikely to stick to whatever promises you make yourself.

Only 8 percent of those who make New Year’s resolutions are successful at keeping them, according to a study published by the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania in 2012.

Chances are that the usual resolutions about reigning in drinking, smoking, eating and spending habits are more likely to last a few weeks at best. So what if your resolutions focused on doing more this New Year, not less?

People tend to focus on negative habits in a bid to change but soon find themselves succumbing to those vices a few weeks into the New Year. But it’s not your willpower that needs upgrading, it’s your resolutions.

The Daily Star has compiled a resolutions guide for 2014, and this year, it’s all about doing more of what we thought was bad for our bodies, whether that means spending money where it counts or making a nightcap part of the evening routine.

For years, we’ve resolved to cut back on beer and rid ourselves of the dreaded potbelly. But why not resolve to drink a bottle of beer a day instead?

This libation can actually reduce the risk of diabetes and mental decline. Moderate beer drinking can decrease the risk of heart attack and death from cardiovascular disease by up to 40 percent, according to a report by the Harvard School of Public Health.

A study in Finland in 1998 also showed that each bottle of beer consumed per day reduced the risk of kidney stones in males by 40 percent.

Similarly, a glass of wine a day carries a number of health-related benefits, such as helping to preserve your memory. Studies have also shown that those who drink wine daily have a lower body mass than those who only drink it occasionally.

Drinking a glass of wine a day has also been found to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.

Food is no different, and this year it’s time to indulge in what’s good for us, rather than eat less and count calories.

According to the Telegraph’s top nutritionist, Daniel Johnson, pizza isn’t low in fat, but if you choose your ingredients right, such as keeping to a thin crust, less cheese, whole wheat, and adding vegetables, a few slices can bring a lot of nutritional value to your plate.

It might also be time to start adding honey to your tea or coffee. The sweet, sticky stuff can increase athletic performance due to its ability to maintain glycogen levels and improve recovery time better than any other sweetener.

And how about more chocolate? Studies revealed long ago that chocolate could decrease chances of developing high blood pressure. New research by the University of Cambridge shows individuals who eat either dark or milk chocolate have a 37 percent lower risk of heart disease than those who have sworn off it.

In terms of proper meals, more salmon in your diet can increase the levels of serotonin in your brain, which can put you in a happier mood. Fish in general is the No. 1 source of omega-3s, the fatty acids that reduce your risk of heart disease.

Avocados are high in fat that helps lower cholesterol. They also have more potassium than bananas, and one avocado contains 4 grams of protein, one of the largest servings of the much-needed molecule found in fruit or veg.

Moving from the kitchen to the bedroom, prioritizing more sleep can go a long way.

Those six-hour nights might seem like they’re enough, but sensible sleep is crucial for optimum health, just like a balanced diet and regular physical activity.

An extra hour of rest could help you maintain your weight, as sleep loss is linked to weight gain. More shut-eye time is also related to clearer thinking and a better memory.

And it might be better to put off vows of chastity until your next life. Research suggests there is a link between sex and lower blood pressure, and it can also keep your heart rate up, not to mention it being a form of exercise.

A 2004 study by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that of 29,000 male subjects, those who had 21 ejaculations a month were less likely to develop prostate cancer than those who had only four to seven. A healthy sex life also releases stress, improves sleep and boosts happiness.

One of the toughest resolutions involves saving money. Money in the bank is always a good idea, but instead of resolving to spend less in 2014, perhaps a better idea would be to spend it on different things, such as on charity or traveling.

Scientists have been talking about the “helper’s high” for years. The idea is that doing good, whether donating to a charity appeal or buying NGO-made goods, will make you feel that your life is more fulfilling.

Spending some of your savings to go on an adventure, or even two, meanwhile, can offer a new perspective on life. Traveling to somewhere and immersing yourself in a completely different culture can be life altering; try an exotic destinations such as Vietnam, Morocco or Brazil. Adventures also revive our inner wanderlust, a desire that is often suppressed.

Traveling, even within Lebanon, is particularly beneficial if it includes physical challenges. Low-impact endurance activities such as hiking allow time for reflectiveness, something lacking on an average, chaotic weekday.

Whatever you do, get dirty.

Recent research has shown that our obsession with cleanliness and protecting ourselves from infectious agents could make us more susceptible to developing allergies. So going on adventures such as rock-climbing and camping could in fact make us healthier by making us grubbier.

 
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