It is officially that time of year again, when the ringing in of the New Year carries the grandiose concept of self-improvement that manifests itself in the popular, yet dreadful, form known as resolutions. We have all experienced the annual dance of setting goals for the New Year, only to find ourselves back to our habitual daily grind within a matter of months, if not weeks or days.

Most of us ambitiously welcome the New Year as a time to start fresh. However, the tendency is to set goals that are either unrealistic to our actual life and or lifestyle, or we overlook the workload and emotional dynamics that are required to properly succeed in attaining these goals in the long term.

One of the more common New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight or quit one of our less desirable habits, like smoking or drinking. These behavioral changes demand much time and effort to see results. It can be frustrat- ing to put in the amount of effort needed to change our lifestyles, only to find out that you have lost just a few pounds or ceased smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol for three business days.

This is why 2016 could be the year to focus not only on the scale or the ashtray, but also on the larger, more inviting concept of feeling balanced both physically and mentally. Maybe our resolution should be to focus on just improving our general well being.

There are plenty of stones to overturn when trying to find balance in your life. Perhaps identifying a comfortable and motivating environment to physically work out in is a good beginning. Maybe locating a private sanctuary to find peace and serenity is more important and meaningful. It could be 24/7 Fitness Fanatics or the Schlitz Audubon Society.

Around Wauwatosa there are plenty of opportunities to burn some calories and be active, shed some anxiety or just chill and enjoy what we have. Gym member- ships are everywhere and can be as expensive or economical as you wish. Milwaukee County is abundant with parks (even dog parks), trails, preserves, gardens and recreational passages and facilities to ski, sled, bike, swim, perambulate, paddle, skate and stroll, but most of all, enjoy.


Senior African American couple riding bicycles in a park.

If paying for a gym membership is not your thing, Wauwatosa also provides plenty of beautiful scenery and outdoor areas to exercise. Taking in the beauty of the Menomonee River or Honey Creek Parkway with a run or walk can provide a great start to your day.

Combining physical activity with a healthy diet is essential for living a well-balanced lifestyle

Along with the different parkways, Wauwatosa has other areas that provide great scenery for a daily workout, such as the Milwaukee County Grounds or the endless miles of bike trails that run through the city. Even going out for a walk, run or bike ride for a couple of minutes a day would go a long way towards getting your body back into shape.

Combining physical activity with a healthy diet is essential for living a well-balanced lifestyle. Many professionals say that the choices we make as
to what we put into our bodies is even more important than how we choose to exercise. In recent decades, we have come to value fresh, organic ingredients that are not only local, but also nutritious and delicious.

Better, fresher, healthier ingredients are abundantly available in all grocery stores throughout Wauwatosa. Outpost Natural Foods and Sendik’s provide fresh, healthy options that work for nearly every diet. Even the larger grocery stores, such as Sentry Metcalfe’s and Pick N’ Save have local produce options and expanded natural foods sections along with “eat in” cafes.

With a Whole Foods set to open in the Mayfair Collection later this year, the options for fresh, local food continue to grow in Wauwatosa.

If you are opposed to overhauling your entire diet, avoiding certain foods, cutting out preservatives, and eliminating processed food may go a long way towards making you feel better this year. These everyday nutrition decisions can become much more natural in our lifestyles. Conscious intake selections can also be fun, spark creativity and conversation.

iStock_000059569964_LargeYOUR MOMENT OF ZEN

Along with improving your physical health, it is just as important to focus on your mental wellbeing. You can find many classes in Wauwatosa led by fantastic professionals that will help teach you ways to get on the right track mentally.

At the Authentic Birth Center and Wellness Collective in West Wauwatosa and at Langlois Vital Nutrition Center on North Avenue, you can find classes such as Essential Oils 101 and Dad’s Yoga Circle.

The Wauwatosa Recreation Department also has many offerings for adult classes that can help get your mind in a more positive and balanced place. Finding time to meditate or practice yoga may be just the break you need to focus your mind and get your day back on track, or started on the right foot.

Health education classes provide another route towards healthier living. Froedtert Hospital and the Medical College offer free classes throughout the year. Some of the upcoming topics for February include insightful forums on migraine headaches, Crohn’s disease, dizziness, hernias and strokes.

Finding time to meditate or practice yoga may be just the break you need to focus your mind and get your day back on track, or started on the right foot.

Alternative medicine classes are also offered all over the city, focusing on homeopathy and the use of herbs and vitamins to maintain a healthier you. Making the commitment to get involved in some of these educational opportu- nities is another way to find a healthy balance in the New Year.

BLUE ZONEiStock_000027783732_Large

Another concept to consider is the idea of Blue Zones, areas of the world where people live measurably longer lives. Certain studies show that having close social circles and access to physical social networks increase our general sense of well being, security, community and, not surprisingly, life expectancy.

A better path for us to get a fresh start this New Year is to find balance in our physical, emotional, mental and self-conscious lives that works for us individually.

The lifestyles of blue zone people revolve around several key aspects: moderate, regular physical activity, life purpose, stress reduction, moderate caloric intake, plant-based diet, moderate alcohol intake (especially wine), engagement in spirituality or religion, engagement in family life, and engagement in social life.

Group activities such as running and biking clubs or neighborhood walks all add to our overall health factor. One of the best things about these types of physical and emotional activities is that you can start them right now, in your neighborhood. Why not inquire through your neighborhood association to figure out how to get a crew of friends moving, talking, eating and sharing?

A better path for us to get a fresh start this New Year is to find balance in our physical, emotional, mental and self-conscious lives that works for us individually.

We are fortunate to have so many options within the Wauwatosa community to help us achieve these ambitions and desires. If we are able to set reasonable goals, make them enjoyable, and incorporate them into our daily routines, then we won’t have to look at the scale or ashtray or recycling bin to see if we have been successful.

A very wise man from Wisconsin once delivered advice on three elements of achieving contentedness and satisfaction in this world. The message was delivered via cross-country, hand-written letter to his sister-in-law in California, who was coping with the changes and challenges of getting older. He eloquently scribed that there are three essential, very simple components to being genuinely happy.

We need something to do, someone to love and share our time with, and some- thing to look forward to and hope for. So, fellow Tosans, keep busy and work hard, share your time with friends and family, and keep dreaming.

Here’s to a happy and balanced 2016, Wauwatosa!