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6 Tips for the New Year That You’ll Thank Yourself for Later

In an intriguing twist to the age-old mantra of out-with-the-old, in-with-the-new, The/Thirty suggests six ways that you can usher in the new year by making changes your body will love and you’ll thank yourself for later. From clearing clutter to inviting a friend to exercise with you, I’m sure you’ll agree that each idea is worthy of consideration.

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While you’re studying the list, please remember there are good things that come from each suggestion, including the one on eating mind-boosting foods. To help you see those good things, I’ve offered my take on each one.

1. Declutter — Whether you call it personal possession purging or annual housecleaning, making a decision to rid clutter from your life can have positive returns. If nothing else, research shows that people who struggle with clutter are 77 percent more likely to be overweight or obese.

With that in mind, a good place to start decluttering might be your kitchen. Take a look around and identify that bring you down physically or mentally, such as dishes from a past relationship and fancy gadgets you don't use that make you feel guilty or like a failure, and get rid of them.

Next, clean out your pantry, refrigerator and freezer. Toss any food items that don't correspond with your vision of a better and healthier life, then give each shelf and bin a thorough cleaning, preferably with natural soap and water.

2. Exercise — Since a sedentary lifestyle that involves huge portions of your day sitting in a chair can age you by as much as eight years, it’s good news that it’s never too late to start an exercise program. Even better news is that you don’t have to join a gym or buy a bunch of expensive equipment to start exercising.

If you’re stuck in an office job, why not put your computer on a stack of books or a box and work while standing? Better yet, ask your employer if they would consider giving you a sit-stand desk, as I have done for my own employees.

Whatever you do, just vow to move more and sit less. Stand while you’re talking on the phone. March in place. Take a walk for lunch.

3. While you’re at it, ask a friend to exercise with you — Inviting a friend to be your exercise buddy will reward you in more ways than one. Not only can the buddy benefit from the exercise, but you both benefit from each other’s support and encouragement. Take that walk together! The camaraderie will make you smile, and you’ll feel better too.

4. Eat mind-boosting foods — What better way to change your whole mood and thinking by turning to food that’s known to boost your brain power? The more you eat a diet based on whole, healthy foods, the more your brain power will soar, even to the point of staving off age-related cognitive decline and other brain disorders.

The good news is there are lots of ways to cook the top brain foods. Plus, as my article on this topic explains, there are quite a few brain foods that you wouldn’t expect, such as coffee and wine. Just don’t overdo it with the wine, and remember that you can have good foods and enjoy them too.

5. Apologize and forgive — All of us can use forgiveness on a daily basis, but did you know that sometimes you have to forgive yourself, first, just to move onward? Once you do that, you can fly free of personal burdens, and move toward forgiving others.

Start by looking into your own eyes in a mirror and saying, "Even though I wasn't successful or I was angry or impatient or mean or cruel," or whatever problem you need to forgive yourself for, and then say, "I forgive you, I was only doing the best I could." When you do this, look directly into your own eyes and talk to your soul.

6. Learn something new — Ah! The fun of something new never ends. But before you take this step, take a minute or two to look inward and think about what might be new or different that you could do that doesn’t cost a dime. One of my favorite things to do is to read, and I love discovering new ideas and new ways of looking at the world through the joys of a new book.

If books aren’t your “thing,” think about something you’ve always wanted to do, but you’ve been putting off. Take that dance class or learn a craft. Or, just drive to a neighboring town, park your car and walk the downtown streets — and discover a great, new year!

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