More fabulous in 2011

Being open to new things led to breakfast with a Cape buffalo 1. Try something new every month. It doesn’t have to be something huge, but mix up your routine. Make 2011 the year you discover new things. Trying new things sparks creativity, keeps your mind sharp, and opens up opportunities. Attend a lecture, learn a language, read a novel if you only like non-fiction. Make it a goal to try at least one new thing every month.

2. Practice compassion daily. Life is much nicer when it is approached with kindness, but don’t confuse kindness and compassion with being a doormat. Just open your heart and make the world a warmer place.
3. Refuse to be drawn into negative conversations and pointless arguments. There are people who just like to grouse and fight. Learn to recognize them when you meet them and give them wide berth. Recently, a woman at my nail salon started a conversation about New Year’s Eve plans a few days before the holiday. She asked what mine were and I told her. To be polite, I asked what she had planned. Soon it was clear she just wanted to argue. I guess she was having a bad day. I found it easy to let her have her say – after all I had my own plans. If she wanted to argue the merits of big and small celebrations, why get involved?
4. Complain less. Nobody likes a moaner. If you have valid complaint takes action: write a letter, look for a better job, or get out of bad relationship. But when it comes to traffic and taxes, cranky, bosses, or any of the little annoyances of life, restrict yourself to the occasional rant and choose your listeners carefully. Everyone suffers the day-to-day “strife of life,” so get over it and get a better topic of conversation.
I have had friends whose calls I came to dread because they didn’t have the occasional complaint, but instead had litanies of the unfairness they suffered at the hands of bosses, friends, and men. After a while I came to see why they were being dumped – who could take all the moaning!
5. Praise more. Darlings, if you don’t adore your husband, boyfriend, friends, and the other lovely people in your life, who will? So let them know how you feel frequently. And I don’t mean you should spout hideous meaningless phrases without thinking. Praise what really you love and appreciate: thoughtfulness, kindness, helpfulness, intelligence, resourcefulness – you get the picture. And don’t stint strangers and helpers on deserved praise either. Say thank you and mean it! Compliment a job well done. And remember if someone looks fabulous, it never hurts to say so — but only if you mean it!
6. End toxic relationships, or at least limit them. Life is short and it should be sweet. If a relationship leaves you drained, beaten up, or feeling used, get out of it. My advice is to just fade away. Scenes and “closure” are overrated. It is just another opportunity for emotional fireworks. Just let go gracefully. If you have a toxic person who is a close family member, learn to tune out the negativity. It is not easy but you can do it. If you need help to learn how, get it. Experts say friends can make you healthier and extend your life –so save your time and energy for good friend.
7. Move! Exercise makes you look better, feel better, and live longer. Exercise strengthens your bones too. Research shows that it actually lengthens your life. Find something you like to do that builds strength, endurance, and flexibility. Walk, play, do yoga — but do it regularly. I do a barre class at Exhale five days week. I hate to miss it. That, and some Ashtanga yoga, works for me.  
8. Say yes. Try some the suggestions here and maybe they will make your life better – maybe a lot better. You will never know unless you try. Things such as eating better and exercising may seem impossible if you feel overwhelmed, but once you get the habit you will wonder how you ever lived without them before. Really.
And try to be open to new experiences. I remember trying Indian food for the second time with a foodie friend. The first time I had tried it, the restaurant was so awful it was hard to go a second time. But I decided to trust my friend and I am glad I did. Indian cuisine is now is one of my favourites. I don’t like to think of all the fun I would have missed over the years if I hadn’t taken a chance on it a second time. I would have then passed on Indian cooking lessons in Moscow with authentic Indian chefs.
I know I had many fun and fascinating adventures in Russia because my Russian friends knew I was willing try and learn new things. Saying “yes” earned me invitations to places that were often closed to foreigners who said no too often.
9. Learn to say no. Knowing when to say no is as important as saying yes. No matter how many experts tell women to say no, many of us have trouble doing it. We say “no” to family and our closest friends, but overextend to things that don’t really matter. Learn to say no to mindless hours at the computer. Unplug, relax, and tune in to those who really matter.
10. Eat better. What you put in your body affects your mood and quality of life. Diet if you will, but eat well. Life is too short to eat junk. Dr. Mehmet Oz says the body looks for nutrition not calories, so choose delicious foods that are packed with vital nutrients such as lean protein, fresh fruit, and vegetables. Good grains will help you feel and look fabulous. And don’t forget healthful herbs and spices. They are full of anti-oxidants and help satisfy the taste buds.
If you are short on time, buy easy-to-prepare healthful foods. Pick up a barbecued chicken at a good grocery store and serve it with a big salad. The leftovers will make several tasty lunches. Learn to cook simple fish and chicken recipes. Good ones can take only minutes more to prepare than a frozen meal, and they are so much better tasting and better for you! We have many recipes and suggestions in our archives.
According to experts, restaurant food often has significantly more calories, fat, and salt than home cooking. You have to be a savvy to avoid gaining weight, if you eat out a lot. So, if you do, download one of the many new diet apps that will give the calorie, fat, and sodium counts in all your favourite restaurant items. Don’t assume you know how much you are consuming. Many of these new apps will also let you keep track of your daily food intake, if you are dieting. Portion control, rather than restrictive eating, is often the key to successful long-term weight loss.
11. Act on a dream. Dream out loud with a “vision board” or a journal. Create a vision board with a theme of something you would like accomplish in your life: a new career, a trip, or a transformation. It’s your dream. Collect photos and affirmations that will inspire you, and make a collage. Put it where you can see it. Or use a journal. Write down your thoughts in the morning when your mind is unclouded. Just take a few minutes to reaffirm your dream. Then at night, take a few more minutes to add thoughts and inspirations. Add pictures or anything else you would like to your journal. Make a plan, do research, and start a savings account. Dreams die without attention – keep yours alive.