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    10 Small Changes with Big Health Payoffs


    7. Give yourself a compliment.

    The key to feeling happy, confident and proud of your body—flaws and all? According to Stacey Rosenfeld, PhD, a New York-based psychologist who specializes in issues of anxiety, depression, eating disorders and body image, the best thing you can do for yourself is to learn how to marvel at your body’s many abilities. “Focus on what your body can do, rather than on how it looks,” she says. “Too often, we pay attention to how our bodies appear, rather than what they allow us to do. Can your body dance or swim? Can you build sand castles at the beach with your kids? Does your body allow you to enjoy a hot bath or intimacy with a partner? Does your body transport you down the block or up a mountain?” Try this exercise: “Identify what you like about your body,” she says. “See if you can find 10 things you like about how you look, like the sparkle in your eyes, the strength of your calves or your hair.”

    8. Get your vitamin D levels checked.

    Next time you’re at the doctor’s office, request a simple blood test to evaluate your vitamin D blood levels, suggests Doreen Orion, MD, a physician in private practice in Boulder, Colorado, and the author of the memoir Queen of the Road. “We're finding that many, many women have a low level of this essential vitamin,” she says. “Low levels are correlated with all sorts of things from cancers to low energy to Alzheimer's. I've had patients who are outside all day, who still have very low levels. The fix is simple and just involves taking vitamin D for several months, then rechecking the level.”

    9. Switch from instant to steel-cut oats.

    If you eat oatmeal in the morning, give yourself some bonus points. The breakfast of champions, oatmeal fills you up and helps you feel satisfied longer than most breakfasts. But, to get the maximum health payoff, consider switching to steel-cut oats, says Jill Nussinow, MS, RD, a registered dietitian and the author of The Veggie Queen. “Steel-cut oats are less processed, contain more fiber and are more satisfying,” she says. “Make them in the slow cooker overnight or quickly in the pressure cooker in 5 minutes in the morning.”

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