December 2010 - The Gift That Keeps on Giving

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The Gift that Keeps on Giving: Good Health

Around this time each year, we begin to think about the gifts we're going to give for the holidays. We worry about sizes, colors, what's in, what's out, what's cool, and of course, this year-cost! So for 2010, I thought I'd give you ten suggestions that are guaranteed to please and benefit those on your gift list all year round.

#1. Medication. We often take for granted that people with chronic illnesses which require daily medications for the rest of their lives, have the money to pay for it. However, many people-especially seniors living on fixed incomes-simply cannot afford their medications. If you know of someone in this predicament, why not give them a gift certificate that pays for one (if not all) of their medications for three, six, or twelve months. You can work this out with the pharmacy where they get their prescriptions filled. Just imagine what a blessing this would be for someone who no longer had to choose between paying their bills and paying for the medications they need to stay alive and healthy!

# 2. Movement and Motivation. One of the best ways to get in shape and stay in shape is to keep moving. However, many of us need some group motivation. What better gift to give than a membership to join a class at the local YMCA /YWCA, community recreation center, or health club. These classes can be great fun and provide the camaraderie that keeps you "motivated to move."

#3. Exercise DVD. Almost everyone has a DVD player these days, and exercise DVDs make great gifts for those folks who prefer not to exercise in public and do their thing at home. You can find all kinds of classes including those with a gospel bend (I like Sweating in the Spirit), Pilates, exercises for seniors, and exercises for men. There really is no end to the variety in cost and categories.

#4. Move to the beat. Nothing motivates a good workout like some "slammin', jammin' music. You get to elevate your mood, get your heart-rate pumping, and your entire body moving. Why not create a workout medley of your friends' favorite tunes that they can load onto their iPod and use while they're exercising or going for a walk. Old school, gospel, hip-hop, R&B, disco or a mix of everything. As long as it gets them up and on their feet, this gift keeps them movin' to the groove all year long.

#5. Relaxation. A great massage treats the body and the soul. These are great gifts for women or men. A good massage gets the circulation going and leaves you feeling wonderful. Check with local health clubs and day spas regarding their gift certificates. If you really want to splurge, look into their special packages that offer a full or half day of pampering.

#6. Let's Eat!! Jingle those dinner bells! For those of us (yes, I'm including myself), who love to eat great tasting soul food, but need to watch the salt, fat, and sugar levels that make these foods taste so great, I suggest you head to your favorite online bookstore for a "healthy soul food" cookbook. There are lots to choose from including vegan options (check out Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine by Bryant Terry); cookbooks for diabetics (The New Soul Food Cookbook for People with Diabetes by Fabiola Gaines and Roniece Weaver), as well as general health soul food (enjoy Curtis Cooks with Heart and Soul by Curtis Aikens, the host of TV's From My Garden).

#7. Drink To Your Good Health. Juicing is a wonderful way to get your daily serving of fruits and vegetables. Juicing provides benefits for weight loss, for detoxing, and just overall good health. A juicing machine is an ideal gift for someone interested in getting a fun and delicious way to enjoy the benefits of fresh juice. Juicing machines can be found at department stores and/or online at a variety of price points. Juicers make wonderful gifts that can be used year round for one person or for the entire family.

#8. Let's get Personal. Personal trainers are great gifts for people who need special attention with their exercise regimens. I caution that this is a "luxury" that can become addictive and many people will avoid working out if the trainer isn't working with them. If you want to give personal training sessions as a gift, I suggest that you specify with the trainer ahead of time that the "gift sessions" are to be used to demonstrate proper technique and develop a work-out and eating plan that the recipient can do on their own. Otherwise, all you've done is start something that the recipient will likely not continue without considerable additional expense. Bah humbug!!

#9. Pause for the Cause. Why not give the gift of meditation, reflection, and prayer. Let's face it, life is hectic-and not just during the holidays. Many of us are running from the time the alarm clock goes off in the morning until the time we hit the bed at night. Life goes by so fast that we rarely have a minute to reflect on the lessons and blessings of the day that just went by. Meditation gifts are ideal for those on your list that are stressed out and need to slow down and smell the roses. You can find lots of options-including DVDs, CDs, and books. And don't forget one of the best books ever written---the Bible!!

#10. Exercise equipment. When it comes to gifts of exercise equipment, I say keep it simple. So many people purchase expensive treadmills and exercise bikes-only to use them a few times and eventually abandon them resulting in the equipment being used as a clothes hanger or just collecting dust. Simple exercise equipment-jump ropes, pedometers, daily food journals, rubber exercise bands, exercise gloves, sweat pants/workout suits---all encourage and assist workouts without doing a workout on your wallet.

The most precious gift of all-which costs nothing-is love!! Share it by spreading it around generously to everyone. And if you happen to eat too much during the holidays, don't worry about it or beat up on yourself. We'll get started again next month-a new year and a chance for a new you!! The goal of the holiday season is to enjoy this special time with family and friends. Remember, the road to good health is not just one day-its a journey of a lifetime.

Wishing you a joyous, healthy and happy holiday season filled with family, friends, and love.

Dr. Mary S. Harris

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