By Susan O'Keefe

Three months into the new year and resolution makers are resolving not to participate in such trivial nonsense next year! By March, the newness has worn thin. What was once an exciting challenge is now a pain in the neck and encouraging texts from friends are few and far between!
So what's a woman (or man) to do? How about picking up Joyce Meyer's book and being introduced to twelve keys to enjoying a healthier lifestyle? The author makes it clear that readers should carefully choose specific keys tailored to their specific needs. True to her humorous, matter-of-fact delivery, Meyer opens the first chapter with a list of diets invented in the last four decades. She boldly confesses she's taken a crack at most of them. She recalls the low-carb diet, liquid-only diet, hard-boiled egg diet, banana-and-milk diet, and the grapefruit diet. Not to be outdone, our own book club added to the list the cabbage diet, green bean diet, Special K diet, and rice cake diet. Oh to find the secret to health and wellness!
For that covert concoction, check out key twelve at the end of the book. The title is "Take Responsibility." Meyer covers a wide range of topics including mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical health. Eat well. Play hard. Work hard. Sleep well. On paper, it really is a simple solution. In reality, it's difficult to execute.
As our small group of book clubbers met to discuss our eating, drinking, sleeping, exercising, and basic overall wellness, there was a comforting sense of support as each of us struggles with maintaining balance in our ever-so-busy lives.
"We need to be happy when we look in the mirror and not spend so much time looking at the scales," piped up one clubber.
Another clubber concedes. "I eat healthy foods and exercise regularly. That should be enough. My body isn't going to look like your body. We're all different and our society needs to accept that. We put a lot of pressure on each other."
At the end of each chapter, Meyer prompts the reader to take action based on the information given in the previous pages. For example, after key nine, which discusses stress and the havoc it wreaks on our bodies, there is a simple statement. Meyer challenges readers to choose at least one action you can take to reduce your stress load. Readers are asked to write it down, commit to it, and begin today. Stress reducers might be as simple as taking a daily walk or breathing fresh air every few hours. Laugh. Play. Pray. More complex suggestions included counseling, and support groups. Eat well. Exercise and sleep well are top place-getters.
No matter the solution for the individual, Meyer drives home the seriousness of stress. Describing it in detail as a toxin that sends your heart into overdrive, constricts blood flow, dries up your mouth, shuts off stomach and intestinal functions, wrecks your sleep, turns off sexual interest and reproductive capability, slows healing, and increases risks of periodontal diseases, and that's just half the list! One small way to combat stress is to drink more water! And that's probably one of my favorite answers to anything that ails you!
"Water! Water! Water!" proclaimed one reader. "That is the highlight of the book and what I'm trying to implement. Drink more water every morning, noon, and night."
Meyer, advised by health and wellness professionals, offered a cup of the cool drink as an answer to many troubles. Muscle cramps? Drink more water! Skin feels dry and sloughy? Drink more water! Think mid-afternoon drowsiness can only be curbed with caffeine or a nap? Drink more water!
"So how much is enough?" questioned one clubber.
Meyer endorses a well-known formula which is to take your weight, divide by two, and get that many ounces of liquid a day. That liquid should be mostly water though. Soft drinks are not included! The water in fruits and vegetables is included, too. If you weigh 140 pounds, for example, you should get approximately 70 ounces of liquid each day, with most of that being water.
"That much water would send me to the bathroom more than once in the middle of the night," argued one woman."Oh, you'll get used to it! Trust me. I speak from experience," encouraged a fellow fitness-seeking friend.
Throughout the book, Meyer offers nuggets of common sense. If you eat junk food, expect a junky body. Avoid buffets and all-you-can-eat gimmicks. In the long run, it's a lose-lose situation. In the preface, Meyer identifies America as a nation battling a self-respect crisis. She uses her husband's illustration of the man who bought a new car but never did any maintenance on it. "Is that how you treat your body?" Meyer asks with a straight face! Maintenance tips can be as painless as applying a little lip gloss or tucking in a shirt and wearing a belt. Before dressing each day or traveling to work, school, even Wal-Mart, ask yourself, "Am I showing my body respect?" Then come the tough question, "Am I respecting my body with the food and drink I put into it?"
For resolutions broken, know there is always another opportunity tomorrow! Look Great Feel Great - the title says it all!