Don’t Fear The Dentist

Here's the trick: don't treat your mouth like shit and find a good dentist.

If you actually do brush at least twice a day and floss at least daily, not only will you have a nice kissable mouth, you'll have dramatically reduced risk of gum disease, cavities, and other ailments that make the dentist have to do painful things to you.

There are dentists & hygenists who know how to make the process much less painful. They do this through a mix of strong interpersonal skills, the latest equipment, good physical techniques, and genuinely caring about their patients. If your dentist doesn't seem to be on your side, find one who is. Ask friends for recommendations and when you're talking to a prospective new dentist's office, ask about how they reduce the painfulness of common procedures such as cleanings.

Personally, I recommend Dr. Perona in San Francisco. Tell him Dinah sent you.

One less pair of cruel shoes

If you have a pair of shoes that leaves your feet aching every time you wear them or, worse yet, actually damages them with blisters and contortions, get rid of those evil bastards.

There are sexy shoes that don't cause agony. Really.

There is another new pair out there that can make you as happy as those worn out ones that can't live up to their former glory (or arch support) anymore.

Take care of your feet; they work hard for you.

Are you on autopilot with your snacks?

Review the snacks you keep on hand around the house and at work. Do they help or harm your overall health goals?

I've learned that if there aren't any corn chips or soft drinks in the house and I am limited to lower fat & less sugary snacks – like fresh baby carrots, baked blue corn tortilla chips, apples, and soda water – I am just as happy and have a lot more energy.

Don't torture yourself by keeping a bunch of stuff around that you don't actually want yourself to eat. Make it easy to snack well.

Diversify your habit portfolio

How do you spend most of your day? Are you building some opposites into your free time to keep yourself balanced?

If you're getting where you want to be, your day includes lots of things you enjoy and are good at, so that doesn't mean you should be excluding those activities from your non-work life, but everyone should remember to stretch out into their full spectrum.

Think about your days and what might be under-emphasized in your life.

I'm a software product manager so I spend my workday in email, browsers, instant messenger, one-on-one conversations in my cube explaining software functionality, team meetings, and the occasional presentation to a large group.

What's missing? Being outside. Not sitting. Being away from the Web. Handling physical objects, even paper (other than to-do lists, I mean). Playing. Activities that do not have deadlines. Mental rest. Being aware of my body. Creating something completely under my control. Reading for pleasure. Writing for pleasure.

Right now spend an hour doing something to celebrate your whole self. And listen to your heart, not social norms, when you decide what you most want to do. Play with Legos, break out the crayons and color, start up that D&D campaign, practice some skateboard tricks, launch a kickball league, anything that makes you grin.

Clean paws

Discard those germs you keep picking up.

One of the best things you can do to stay healthy is get in the habit of washing your hands more often. Of course after using the toilet and before eating, but how about also as one of the things you do when you arrive home or at work? (I refer to this as "washing off the Muni").

Want to wash effectively? Start following this advice from my doctors.

Find your fool

Today you should look around for dumb stuff you do that creates chaos in your life. Find your bad habits and build better alternatives.

A few examples:

Foolish trick: regularly getting too busy at work and delaying or skipping lunch.
Antidote: stock some non-refrigeration-requiring healthy snacks and quick meals in your desk.

Foolish trick: pants are all wrinkled after the first wearing because you drop them on the floor.
Antidote: put a clothes butler rack (or a chair) right where you tend to fling things and drape things that get would otherwise get wrinkled neatly over it.

Foolish trick: buying expensive stuff and then regretting it
Antidote: take your credit card out of your wallet and store it at home (or at least seal the damn thing inside a paper onto which you've written pithy questions like "Why are you buying this?" "Will you still be happy about this purchase in a month?")

Drop the pop

Go read the can or bottle of the beverages you're drinking today. Here's a good example of the kind of thing some of you might find:

Carbonated water, caramel color, aspartame, phosphoric acid, potassium benzoate, natural flavors, citric acid, caffeine.

What do those ingredients do to your body? Are you draining yourself or fueling yourself?

Drink more water and start cutting out the sugary (or fake sugary) caffeine bombs. If you're relying on the bump from your drinks to get you through the day, you're masking a bigger problem and making your body pay the price.

Getting Your Move On

Many, many people, myself among them, do not get enough exercise.

Now I'm not going to tell you that I can suddenly turn you into the kind of person who races out the door every day for a 10 mile run, but I think I can help you – and me – get moving more and gain the benefits of that activity.

You do want those benefits, believe me. Exercise strengthens your body, helps control your weight, and, thus, helps you live longer. Not only that but it cures depression.

Unfortunately, when you're depressed, you're also lethargic, but you don't have to go jogging for an hour to shake that off. Just walk down to the end of the block.

Go ahead and do it. Grab the recycling and take it down to the bin and then just keep going. Take a look around at what's happening on your street. Any new neighbors moving in? Flowers blooming in yards or windows? Kids playing? Houses getting painted? Garden gnomes? Trees budding? Animal tracks? Sleeping cats? Barking dogs? What's the exceedingly local news?

When you get to the corner, see how you feel and maybe you'll want to go all the way around the block. If not, don't worry about it. Come on home and do a little stretching inside.

Every day get 10 minutes of walking in. Just 10 minutes. That we can definitely do, you and I.