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Resolve to seek healthy balance in the New Year


This year, make your New Year’s resolutions enjoyable and doable. Too often, the goals we set are overly ambitious and the results are short-lived.

A modest change is preferable to a 180 because the results tend to be more durable and can lay the foundation for confidence and future success.

Avoid extremes, seek balance and take the "middle path." Here are a few healthy New Year’s resolutions that you might want to choose from:

1. Diet: High blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol are among the most common health problems in Hawaii. Remember, salt affects blood pressure. Most of the salt we eat is not what we sprinkle on, but is hidden in prepared foods. Read labels on cans and jars — you might be shocked at how much sodium, fat and sugar they contain. Avoid them altogether, or choose the low-salt option if available. Fructose, sugar and "white foods" (rice, potatoes and bread) affect diabetes. Shift to yams or sweet potatoes from white potatoes, and to whole grains, especially brown rice.

Fatty foods raise cholesterol. For starters, curb the fast foods, french fries and katsu. The more you are able to prepare your own meals, the more you can ensure that they are healthy. Always try to buy food that is grown locally and get organic when possible. Eat more greens.

2. Exercise: We are so blessed to live in a paradise that makes exercising fun. How many places on Earth can we walk, run, hike, swim, surf, play tennis or bike in the beautiful outdoors 12 months of the year? The key is to create a routine that fits in your schedule and that you find inspiring. In general, low-impact exercise is better than high, and symmetrical activities are better than ones that always use one arm or one leg or have you twisting in the same direction every time. Yoga, anyone?

3. Alcohol: Keep alcohol to no more than two drinks per day and, if you abstain during the week, don’t make up for lost time on the weekend. Excess alcohol is hard on the liver, increases body weight and blood pressure and weakens our resolve to stay on track. And of course, in advance of a party, identify the designated drinkers and the designated drivers.

4. Sleep: Americans are sleep-deprived. Many work long hours and worry that they might lose their jobs in this struggling economy. Our addiction to high-tech devices like computers, cell phones and video games can also deplete our sleep. Commit to getting as close to eight hours of sleep a night as possible. Try turning off your tech devices at least one hour before bedtime.

5. Ohana: Spend quality time with those you care about and remember that loving relationships need to be fed and nourished. So much of successful parenting depends on our ability to support the budding interests of our children and to set aside our own bright ideas about what is best for them.

6. Community and environment: Look beyond the daily routine and consider the needs of our local community and the fragile environment. Commit to making a difference.

7. Random acts of kindness: Too often, business decisions are motivated by what we will get in return. In addition to cultivating integrity and transparency, don’t resist the urge to give from the heart without expectations.

Ira Zunin, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., is medical director of Manakai o Malama Integrative Healthcare Group and Rehabilitation Center and CEO of Global Advisory Services Inc. Please submit your questions to


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