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Just love yourself this Valentine'

Published:Wednesday | February 10, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Eulalee Thompson - BE WELL

In case someone out there missed the lifestyle makeover memo, here's a list of the important steps to loving yourself more and creating a happier more meaningful life:

1. Get moving

Review your weekly schedule and pencil in two and a half hours per week (or 30 minutes per day for five days) of a moderate aerobic activity such as brisk walking or swimming.

If you can manage more vigorous aerobic activity, such as running, the recommendation is for 75 minutes spread throughout the week. Do strength-training exercises at least twice per week. If weight loss is your goal, you will have to increase the duration and intensity of the exercises.

Physical activity is not only about weight management and chronic disease control, it is also about improving your mood and self-esteem. Physical activity stimulates brain chemicals that make you feel happier and more relaxed. When you feel and look better that is a major boost to confidence and self-esteem. These statements have been validated by science and research. So, what are you waiting for?

2. Eat one more fruit and veggie today

It can be as simple as adding raisins to your cereals and porridge. When it comes to vitamins and minerals, fruits and vegetables can hardly be beaten. They pack in fewer calories than many other foods and so are good choices for weight watchers. A diet high in the soluble fibre found in fruits and vegetables can help lower cholesterol and heart disease risk. If you drown your salads in butter and rich, creamy sauces, however, you will defeat the healthy benefits.

3. Slow the pace down

Multi-tasking cannot be avoided in this fast-pace world but there comes a time in the day when you need to clear the cobwebs from your mind. Take up at least one activity that forces you to slow down and destress. Yoga, Tai Chi, painting, gardening, cooking, listening to downtempo music can help empty your mind.

4. Build social support

Review your list of intimate partnerships, friends and associates. Who are the energy drainers, chronic complainers, hard-to-communicate-with, back-stabbing ones? In your healthy lifestyle makeover, plan to limit the time you spend with them. Your life will have less mental clutter and emotional junk if you surround yourself with more supportive and optimistic people.

5. Appreciate the environment

Life changes when you begin to appreciate the intensity of colours in flowers and chirping birds. Reduce the amount of the Earth's resources you use; reuse items where possible, and recycle things you already have into something new. Don't litter the environment, declutter your space, and use eco-friendly cleaners at home (such as the vinegar-and-water mix and baking soda).

Eulalee Thompson is health editor and a professional counsellor; email: eulalee.thompson@