The New Year always brings thoughts of invigorating our mind and body.

Retreats and spas, such as Live Oak in Malibu, can easily cost in excess of $6,000/week. Regardless of whether we need our physique transformed and our psyche refreshed, few of us can afford that price tag.

Needing some rejuvenation without the stress of paying a hefty price for it, I decided to design Annie’s Wellness Program.  Before we begin, here’s the disclaimer:  I have zero health credentials. Personal experience is my only claim. I encourage you to contact your personal physician to determine your health benchmark.

Health guru mantras target the golden twins: exercise and diet to sustain good health.

Diet for the long term: it’s what you’re use to:

Calories are at the heart of our weight gain/loss and good health. The Diet du Jour might result in a five-pound weight loss, but next week those pounds have a tendency to jump back onto our posterior. You are not required to memorize a calorie chart.

Food Item Calories Per
Eggs 70 each
Whole wheat bread 50 slice
Corn tortilla 60 piece
Cream cheese (fat free) 30 ounce
Butter 102 tablespoon
Packaged ham 60 4 slices

However, awareness helps you make a decision between smearing cream cheese vs. butter on that slice of bread.  Please, become a label reader. Take control of how much food you are consuming at each meal.  On average, for active women over the age of 55, the goal is 1,400-1,700 calories/day. For active men over the age of 55, the goal is between 2,000-2,500/day.

How much is enough?

The quantity of food served in restaurants and fast food establishments has grown in proportion to the American girth.  When the service person delivers your entrée, the plate is over-flowing with delicious food. The proportions applaud our prosperity. At the conclusion of our meal, we expect to be stuffed.

Our moms taught us to share. So, take Mom’s advice and split the meal with your dining companion. Add soup or salad or a favorite dessert to your order as a compromise if the selection doesn’t match perfectly what your taste buds had in mind.

Tip: Eat five small meals a day instead three large portions.  The body will be satisfied and prevent you from going on an eating binge.

Communication between the stomach and the brain doesn’t travel at 4G. Actually, it’s more like dial-up.  For the stomach to signal the brain: “hey, I’m full,” takes twenty minutes.  By the time you’ve finished that burger, fries and shake, the stomach is screaming…full, full, stop, I’m full.  Suddenly, you’re saying, “oh, I ate too much.”  Remember, the stomach is the size of an adult’s fist.  Be kind to your stomach. Don’t stuff it!

Slow down the eating process. Stop shoveling the food into your mouth. Give the stomach time to tell the brain, ENOUGH. Then, listen. Stop shoveling in the food.  Kids in China will not starve because you didn’t eat that last piece of fried fish.

List of healthy foods:

Kale Spinach Broccoli Cabbage Tomato
Carrots Berries Mushrooms Garlic Onions
Peppers Celery Zucchini Sweet potatoes Apples

Exercise: Do something, anything, every day

Owners of gyms across our nation are salivating. January enrollment is their Black Friday.  People’s determination to lose weight and get back in shape is a universal January resolution.  We resolve…this time I’m sticking with it.  However, by the middle of February, the crowds in the gym have thinned to the die-hard regulars.

The real importance of exercise is in keeping our joints and muscles well oiled. If I sit in one spot for 30 minutes, when I get up it takes a few moments before everything starts to function. The body is a lazy piece of machinery. The less work the better.  But, long term, inactivity is crippling.  Invest in YOU.  Instead of buying that new gadget, that new outfit, that new whatever, enroll in a class associated with your gym membership or sign-up with a personal trainer.  Make exercise as much a part of your daily routine as bushing your teeth or drinking that first cup of coffee.

No pain, no gain is BS.  Exercise doesn’t have to be painful to be good for you.  Walk. If the weather is cold and rainy and you don’t want to go outside, walk on a treadmill. No treadmill?  Not a problem.

  1. Establish a goal –  ½ mile, 1 mile, etc.
  2. Pick your largest room
  3. Measure it
  4. How many times back and forth must you walk to reach your goal?

Boring?  Put on some music or turn up the TV as entertainment.

Not interested in a gym or trainer, get your friend, neighbor or colleague at work to walk with you.  If you are ambitious, try forming an exercise group at work.  Anything that will help you develop an exercise habit. Exercise all day. Every little bit helps.  Take the stairs. Park at the back of the lot. Take the long way back to your desk.


For me, the when is a key factor in my exercise program.  Early. I get up before any other members of my family to workout at home or the gym. If I try to push exercise to the afternoon or evening, something always gets in the way.  You must decide when is best time for you.

The reward

Once a month, treat yourself to an hour massage at a local spa for less than the cost of dinner at a nice restaurant.  No, this program isn’t a week at Live Oak or any of the other expensive wellness centers.  The beauty of this simple wellness program is that you can keep it going and going and going.