The Balanced Woman

Today's catch phrase is "the balanced woman", and for today's woman, achieving this state can be a challenge. Often dividing her time and energies between a career, family responsibilities, and demands of heading up the household, she barely has time to prepare a good meal for herself, squeeze in a workout, relax with a book, or take a yoga class. However, your well being depends upon it, and finding this state of near-serenity and becoming a balanced woman is easier than you might think. By making a simple change or two, which can be slipped seamlessly into a jam-packed schedule, you can enjoy better health.

Here's what you need to know to be a balanced woman.

Eat Breakfast!
Upon waking, you've essentially been fasting for up to 12 hours. Your first meal of the day "breaks the fast." This early-morning fuel gives you energy to get through the a.m., so make sure it's packed with the right stuff (nutritious options include oatmeal with fruit, an egg-white omelet with veggies, or, for the woman-on-the-run, a breakfast bar). A bonus: Research shows starting your day with a well-balanced breakfast helps you stay slim. Why? Experts believe that breakfast skippers may overcompensate for the missed calories later on.

Practice stress reduction!
Make it your mantra to manage stress, which can wreak havoc on cholesterol levels, impede immunity, and interfere with sleep. Relax! You don't have to sit through a formal meditation class to get benefits. You can ease jangled nerves by taking a 30-minute walk at lunch; treating yourself to a 15-minute herbal tea break in the afternoon; or, enjoying an evening soak in a warm tub infused with relaxing lavender essential oil.

Know your nutrients!
Women's nutritional needs differ from those of men. To keep our bodies functioning optimally, as well as fend off breast cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis, we need to pay close attention to our diets. Be sure yours includes strength-giving iron (found in meats), bone-building calcium (in milk and cheese), heart-healthy soy protein (in tofu, soy milk, and soy nuts), and the B-vitamin folic acid (which fortifies many cereals and grains and prevents birth defects and promotes cardiovascular health).

Catch your Z's!
When our schedules fill up, the first thing we sacrifice is sleep. Shut-eye, however, is absolutely necessary for having more energy, managing stress, and thinking on our feet. The required hours of sleep will vary from person to person (though eight hours is often touted as the magic number), so focus on getting into a daily routine, one that gets you in bed and up at the same time each day.

Take a vacation!
If a trip to the Caribbean isn't in the cards, then take a "mental vacation". For five to ten minutes, close your eyes and visualize the ideal getaway locale, whether it's a secluded beachfront villa, your grandmother's porch swing, or a quiet tree-filled forest. Let yourself experience the smells, tastes, sounds, and emotions associated with this place. You'll be surprised how this brief getaway can recharge your batteries.

Take care of yourself and you, too, can be a "balanced woman"! Eat healthy, exercise, and take a few moments to smell the roses along the way, but most of all, enjoy life and all it has to offer!

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