Better Body, Better Brain, Better You

68 ways to make 2010 your best year yet.

With Matthew Halverson, James Ross Gardner, Laura Cassidy, Christopher Werner, Karen Quinn, and Kristin Cordova Edited by Jessica Voelker December 17, 2009 Published in the January 2010 issue of Seattle Met

1. Just reading this article is good for your health.
Even better: reading it aloud to your friends. In 2009, Mayo Clinic researchers, detailing study findings at a neurology conference in Seattle, revealed that people who socialized regularly and read magazines during middle age were about 40 percent less likely to develop memory loss than their wallflowery, less literary peers.

2. Detox the air.
How to put this politely? Thanks to chemicals in your carpet and cleaning products, your house is toxic. Sorry. But there’s good news: A NASA study found that a simple spider plant can, in 24 hours, remove 87 percent of indoor pollution. Meanwhile, the cataractarum palm converts CO2 to oxygen with amazing efficiency. Buy some of each at Capitol Hill’s coolest plant shop, Envy (1546 15th Ave, Capitol Hill, 206-588-2498;

3. Deborah Enos wants to raid your kitchen.
The Sammamish-based weight-loss coach ( chucks whatever pantry staples are making you chunky and suggests easy, healthier options to keep you cooking light. One of her favorite 15-minute dinners: a taco salad using low-calorie Pop Chips instead of tortilla chips, a can of black beans (rinse to remove 40 percent of the sodium, per Enos) mixed with ground bison (30 percent less fat than beef), veggies, salsa, and low-fat cheese.  

4. Drink more coffee, not less.
There’s nothing moderate about Seattle’s coffee kick—we rank second in the nation for most coffee shops per capita with 2.5 shops per 1,000 people. And whether you’re loyal to Lighthouse or sip nothing but Stumptown, you needn’t be moderate about how much java you imbibe. “I typically tell my patients to drink as much coffee as they can and still be able to sleep,” says Peter R. Martin, director of the Institute for Coffee Studies at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. (Full disclosure: The institute is funded by coffee growers.) While people with anxiety or heart conditions should go light and pregnant women should avoid it altogether, coffee—lots of coffee—combats depression, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes. A 2005 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, for example, found that people who swilled more than six cups of coffee a day reduced their risk of acquiring Type 2 diabetes by 35 percent. 

5-7. Healthy Happy Hours: 
From 3 to 7pm daily, Garage
( on Capitol Hill offers up their swanky bowling lanes for just $10 per hour. Opt for a light beer and sip slowly, and you may even end up losing weight.

Happy hour at Fonté Coffee roaster and Wine Bar ( runs from 5 to 7pm every day and includes a highly snackable deconstructed Caesar—crunchy romaine spears sticking upright out of a bowl of creamy dressing ($3). Pair with a glass of white for a healthy predinner pick-me-up.

From 2:30 to 6pm on weekdays, Café Flora ( features a discount menu whose healthy highlight is the Pate Platter ($7). Anchored by an earthy lentil-pecan pate and a tangy red-onion confit, this sampler is one effective ambassador for the vegan kingdom.

8. Show this one to your boss: 
Vacation is good for you. A University of Pittsburgh study surveyed 1,399 people to discover that leisure time is an important part of a healthy, stress-controlled lifestyle. Seattleites can keep it local by booking an Alaskan cruise that originates right on our waterfront with Bellevue-based travel service Expedia (

9. Get your Undriver’s License.
Pledge your commitment to alternative transportation—help a friend find a bike route to work, give up driving two days a week—and Sustainable Ballard will issue you a business-card-size “license.” Creator Julia Field says kids are especially inspired by the idea of becoming undrivers, and there is no trip to the DMV
necessary: The cards are issued at events around town; see website for details.

10. Sure it’s a goody-goody platitude.
It’s also a fact: The fastest way to start feeling good about yourself is to do something nice for someone else. Seattle Works (
) will help you find volunteer opportunities that match your skill set, interests, and commitment level. It couldn’t be easier.

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11. Justin Brotman

Owner of the new 15th Avenue East health shop Healeo (
) and a firm believer in the food-as-meds lifestyle, wants to help you with your hangover. “In this neighborhood, people always want to detox after a weekend of drinking,” says Brotman. He makes them a cleansing juice blend ($5.90) with aloe vera, lemon, ginger, beet, and apple. 

12. Stress less.
An American Psychological Association survey released last November found that in 2009, 82 percent of Seattleites reported work as a significant cause of stress—up from 74 percent in 2008. The Washington State Psychological Association suggests countering work-related stress with one healthy commitment like, say, signing up with a personal trainer (see number 14.)

13. Maybe you’re pregnant, 
maybe you just need to lighten up a little on the wine. We’re not judging, we just think you’ll love the way Pioneer Square–based Dry Soda ( tastes with dinner. At a recent Rover’s meal, chef Thierry Rautureau
paired rhubarb Dry with Dungeness crab in a pomegranate vinaigrette. The lemongrass Dry, meanwhile, is delicious with most any veggie fare. Get creative.

15. Calorie Count: Breakfast
We all know it’s silly to skip breakfast, but a bagel and cream cheese packs 420 calories. Switch to one slice of 100 percent whole wheat toast with cream cheese, and you’re down to about 210. Spreading your schmear on a crumpet will cost you just 190 calories. (Calorie counts came directly from businesses or were calculated using They should be considered approximate.)

Image: Anna Locke

16. America may run on Dunkin’, 
but Seattle runs on Mighty-O Donuts ( The made-in-Wallingford, all-organic, vegan, and cholesterol-­free treats make other such breakfast-­time indulgences seem like the stuff of science fiction.

17. The high-pressure 
cleaning machines at Blue Sky Cleaners ( use liquid CO2 to get your whites whiter and your brights brighter—without any toxic chemicals or heat. Prices are higher than typical dry cleaners (shirt $8.13, pants $8.35, dress $14.31) but include free pickup and delivery. 

18. A healthy foot is a sexy foot. 
At the spa at Bellevue’s Pro Sports Club (—the white-on-white fitness megamall where Microsofties work off all those Red Bull calories—you can book a pedicure called the Medicure ($70) which includes a session with the staff podiatrist and treats ingrown nails, calluses, and dry skin.

19. Cuddling with a cat or dog is a stress reliever, 
but worrying about its well-being? Not so much. Set your mind at ease by signing up for CPR Seattle’s pet CPRand first-aid class ($49) where you’ll learn what to do if your pet chokes, gets bitten by a snake, or needs to be evacuated in an emergency.

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20. Even if you have 
15,000 followers on Twitter, it can’t hurt to learn an old-fashion social-networking sport. The four pros at Mill Creek Tennis Club ( teach private and semiprivate lessons; prices range from $65 to $85 per hour. Join the club and receive a $10 discount.

21. Work up a sweat 
amid nightclub lighting and custom-­finished exercise equipment at Bellevue’s beautiful David Barton Gym ( in the Bravern complex. In this newest outpost of the national chain, clients consult with personal trainers, get tank-top ready in a strength-building class called Guns or tone their abs in a Pilates studio stocked with state-of-the-art stretching and strengthening equipment. The gym is youth-­worshipping (the lobby’s curved-wood floor suggests a skateboard ramp), unabashedly superficial (the motto is “Look better naked”), and over-the-top in every way. But if the array of buff bodies there are any indication (or motivation) it will help you get in seriously good shape.

22. Seaweed, fish, ginger: 
Sushi is good for us. But a recent fishing-industry documentary called End of the Line predicts that if we don’t change the way we eat seafood, the oceans will be barren by 2048. What to do? Eat sushi at Mashiko ( in West Seattle, the first local sushi restaurant (and only the third in the country) that is fully sustainable. No endangered species, no irresponsibly raised fishies, just fresh, heart-healthy raw fish that you can feel fine about gobbling. 

23. Go play 
An average adult can burn over 300 calories an hour scurrying around the playground with the young ones. Scale monkey bars and scoot across shaky bridges at the many-turreted Saint Edward State Park (, play castle, and your heart will pump aplenty as you get rowdy with the rugrats.

24. Calorie counter: Alcohol
Not for nothing do they call it a beer belly. While a single 1-to-1 gin and tonic has 94 calories, about the same as a four-ounce glass of cabernet sauvignon or a chardonnay, there are 165 calories in one 12-ounce Manny’s Pale Ale. We’re not saying don’t drink it, but chugalug and your pants will be snug.

Image: Anna Locke

25. Lost without your lamb chops? 
Seattle scribe Kim O’Donnel, a food blogger, has made the commitment to Meatless Mondays, a national campaign to help Americans (who eat twice as much meat as the global average) to cut out animal consumption one day a week. Check out O’Donnel’s blog Licking Your Chops ( for practical and inspiring tips and recipes.

26. Roll on. 
If a faulty bicycle threatens to put you out of cardio condition, call mobile bike mechanic Ross Donaldson of Delicious Wheels ( He’ll hitch up his trailer of tools and meet you at your home or office to cure whatever ails your two-wheeler. 

27. Need a reason to relax? 
A recent Forbes study found Seattle to be America’s fourth-safest city, tied with Boston, Massachusetts, and trailing our neighbors to the south in Stumptown, who earned third place. Hey, they had to be better than us at something.

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28. Look outside. 
The very act of just looking out a window has instant positive effects on your health. Researchers at the UW’s Human Interaction with Nature and Technological Systems Lab compared heart rates of 90 college students as they performed stress-­inducing tasks in front of a blank wall, tranquil outdoor footage on a plasma screen, and a window overlooking live, deciduous trees and a grassy knoll. The result: Peering through a window at old-­fashioned nature significantly slowed the students’ heart rates; the plasma screen and blank wall did not. 

29. Slather it on, even in winter. 
We know you know you’re supposed to use sunscreen—even in our relatively rays-free climate—but consider this a friendly reminder. Antiaging creams make big promises, but according to Dr. Annalisa K. Gorman of Swedish Hospital, sunscreen is the only real way besides cosmetic surgery to slow down visible signs of aging. Seems like an easy choice.

31. Are you D deprived? 
According to naturopathic physician Nina Paroo of Natural Healthcare Northwest (, our cloudy northern climate makes us especially susceptible to vitamin D deficiency, which has been linked to depression, fatigue, cardiovascular problems, and some cancers. Paroo diagnoses the problem with a simple blood test and treats her sunless wretches with a program of fat-soluble supplements.

32. Learn to cook healthy.
Call up Cornucopia Cuisine ( and schedule a dinner at chef Becky Selengut’s Capitol Hill home. Here’s how it works: Selengut shows you and three of your friends how to prepare a local, seasonal dinner, then sits down and eats it with you. Dinners are $85 per person. 

33. Become a stair master.
Climbing one of Seattle’s 550 public outdoor stairways (nearly seven miles of steps) is a cardio workout with a view—of the forest they cut through in Interlaken Park, or the bungalow-style mansions in Leschi, or, in the case of Galer Crown, a set of steps at the top of Queen Anne, all of Elliott Bay. Start your path to staircase transcendence with a copy of “Map of the (Oft) Pedestrian Public Stairs of Queen Anne Hill,” architect Thomas Horton’s hand-drawn and waterproof field guide to the neighborhood’s 121 stairways to heaven (available at

34. I scream, you scream. 
This city certainly loves its frozen treats, but when we’re watching our weight, not all icy sweets are created equally. Here’s how our local scoops stack up: Molly Moon’s chocolate ice cream has 260 calories per serving. Old School Frozen Custard chocolate custard has 175. Chocolate gelato from Procopio, meanwhile, has just 78 calories per scoop.

Image: Anna Locke

35. Why do Seattle women
let the ladies of Lynnwood-based Olympus Spa ( go where only significant others have gone before? It may get up close and personal, but the 40-minute Korean Body scrub ($65) improves circulation and will make your skin feel as soft as the day you were born. Fittingly, you’ll be wearing your birthday suit—this all-women, all-nude spa is a “bathing suit-free” space.

36. Calorie Count: Lattes
If you’re one of the legions of Seattleites who start the day with a bone-strengthening latte, don’t forget to include it in your total food tally: Drink 100 whole-milk lattes for a year and you’ve downed 20,400 calories. Switch to 2 percent, and it’s 15,000. Order skim and you’ll still be sucking up 12,600 calories, about the amount you’d burn over 19 six-mile runs. 

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37. Calm down with Qigong.
Picture the flow of a river stopped by fallen cedars after a winter storm. Traditional Chinese medicine sees your qi (say “chee”), or vital life force, as that river, and sickness—fitful sleep, nasty moods, distracting headaches—as the result of the logjam. Your fix won’t require a backhoe, just the remarkably relaxing sweeping, bending, balancing, and stretching movements of a Soaring Crane qigong routine at Ballard’s Embrace the Moon ( Take just one in the series of 12 classes and you might find your mind is more quiet and your neck muscles less tense; master the Crane’s five routines and find that your dreams now take place on the banks of a peacefully flowing stream. 

38. A little Sade and soft lighting never hurt matters either. 
Women looking to reproduce should get to know folic acid (a B vitamin), which helps prevent birth defects, says Minh-Hai Tran, a nutritionist at NutritionWorks ( It’s found in leafy veggies, beets, and citrus fruits. Men, meanwhile, should load up on vitamin E (in wheat germ and avocado), thought to increase fertility.

39. Feel Good Running. 
You’ve heard tell of the legendary runner’s high, but did you know it’s been proven? In 2008, German scientists showed that exercise causes a rush of endorphins to the brain, explaining that stimulating bliss that comes after an intense workout. To get in on the buzz, join more than 400 joggers at the Seattle Running Company (, which offers fun runs as well as race-training opportunities for the fast and furious. 

40. Seattle’s active singles 
look to Events and Adventures ( to meet other eligibles scurrying up rocks, bumping along bike trails, camping…. Wait, camping? Well, that’s one way to get to know each other quickly.

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42. Start a walking school bus.
You probably see your neighbors schlepping their kids to school at the same time as you—why not organize a “walk pool”? Parents take turns pied pipering the wee ones around the neighborhood, saving time, getting exercise, and reducing the ol’ carbon footprint. 

43. Salmon is a shining-star source of omega-3 fatty acids, 
but farmed salmon is an enviro-no-no. Becky Selengut (see number 30) recommends wild keta, pinks, and coho varieties, available at Seattle’s Mutual Fish Company ( 

44. Zumba, 
A hybrid of dancing, aerobics, and strength training set to Latin and pop music, is so fun, you’ll forget you’re exercising…and that you look a little ridiculous doing so. Try it out at the Redmond Athletic Club (, where the drop-in rate is $10 per visit.

45. Eat spicy food. 
The spices that bring a fire to your taste buds also do your body good, says a Cedars-Sinai Medical Center study. Red and green chilies help lower blood pressure and are packed with beta carotene, an ally in fighting infections. Other research has shown that turmeric, a key ingredient in curries, stalls cancer cell growth. Set your palate ablaze with the chicken curry fried rice at U District’s Thai Tom (206-548-9548), or at Sichuanese Cuisine Restaurant ( where ordering the scorching Sichuan-style beef is grounds for keeping an ice-water-toting server on retainer.

46. Psst! 
We’re going to start doing some yoga soon—you’ll need something to wear. We suggest you stop by U Village or Bellevue Square and pop into Lululemon athletica (, a Canadian company that sews yogawear from a patented fabric that makes even out-of-shape bodies look somehow slamming.

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47-52. Don’t call it a comeback.
Volleyball may be today’s “it” workout, but local leagues have been bumping and setting for years. Here, our Seattle v-ball pickup picks for every style.

If you’re the outdoorsy sort Head to Ingraham High School every Thursday, when a rugged club called the Mountaineers hits the net. Times vary due to school schedules but sessions usually start at 8pm and cost $5. Call Eldon Ball (206-366-8405) for details.

If you’re social but sorta serious Play at Kamiakin Junior High ( on Sunday evenings from September through June, where ballers range from newbies to pros. Games begin at 5pm and cost $4.

If you’re sand-loving North Beach Volleyball ( owner Willie Moneda and his family eat, sleep, and breathe beach v-ball, and open two indoor courts to league play 50 weeks a year. If you don’t have a team, go to the hour-long Thursday night Skills and Drills clinic taught by former University of Kentucky setter Sabrina Brown. Class begins at 6pm ($10 for drop-ins, free for league players).

If you’re seasoned Terrace Park facility ( in Mountlake Terrace opens its doors to the 55-plus crowd (most players are in their mid-60s) every Tuesday night from 5 to 7pm, year round, for $2.75–$3.25.

If you’re serious At Shoreline’s Spartan Recreation Center (18560 First Ave NE, Shoreline, 206-801-2600; rookies can sign up, but should be prepared to get schooled. Players tend to be intermediate to advanced. Wednesdays 7:15 to 9pm, register by 6:45 for one of 35 spots ($3.50–$4).

If you’re super serious Calling all jocks! Most players at the Ballard Community Center ( for Tuesday-night pickups have either played college ball or at least have solid knowledge and skills. Play begins at 8pm and costs $2; the center suggests showing up by 7:20 to grab one of only 30 tickets into the gym. If you make it, you’ll be randomly put on a team (no cliques here) and play two Round Robin tourneys in one night, promising one heck of a sweat.

53. Spread out your mat. 
If cramped, claustrophobic quarters keep you away from most urban yoga studios, check out Be Luminous Yoga (
). The airy new school across the lot from the Pan Pacific Hotel was opened last November by two longtime local yogis specializing in the Baptiste style of vinyasa, or flow, yoga. Classes are taught out of an enormous practice space, and there are two spacious shower rooms, so you can stretch away stress and still smell nice afterward.

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54. Mushroom foraging: 
Try it once and it starts to grow on you. Bad jokes aside, if you’ve always wanted to get in on this classic Pacific Northwest pastime but don’t know your chicken of the woods from your turkey tails, join Puget Sound Mycological Society (, it’s a fun and educational way to meet other fungi fans and get schooled on all things shroom.  

55. Eat weeds. 
Always the inventive locavores, Seattleites have embraced purslane, a weed packed with omega-3 fatty acids. Local Roots Farm grower Siri Erickson-Brown, who sells a cultivated variety at the Queen Anne Farmers Market ( from June through September, recommends using the plant’s lemony leaves in a salad with parsley, cherry tomatoes, and sweet onions. 

56. Groggy at work from all-night World of Warcraft binges? 
Flaking on your flesh-and-blood friends so you can spend more time with your Sims posse? Fall City–based ReStart (, the country’s first Internet-addiction recovery center, says both are signs of a possible problem. Even if you’re at ease with your web usage, try spending one Sunday totally unplugged: no texting, no computer, no video console. If you can’t get through a day offline, consider calling the center to learn more. 

57. When body-conscious Seattleites fall off the workout wagon, 
they head to the boxing fitness class at Cappy’s Boxing Gym ( to make amends. A time-tested group class that combines calisthenics and boxer’s exercises—footwork, medicine-ball drills, rope jumping—it’s an old-school, kick-your-butt, pretense-free sweat session. Prepare to feel the burn.

58. Rub a dub dub. 
At press, nearly 200,000 people in King County had been vaccinated against swine flu. Whether or not you’re one of them, you can help protect yourself and others from H1N1 and other cold and flu viruses just by scrubbing those mitts. When you wash your hands, use soap and scrub for the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday”—about 15 to 20 seconds.

59. Put your sleep issues to bed. 
One in five people has trouble sleeping, says Ralph Pascualy, medical director of Sleep Medicine Associates, a clinic with locations in Seattle and Issaquah. An undiagnosed disorder can cause a combination of neural and psychological problems that lead to substance abuse, depression, and stress galore. But, says Pascualy, you needn’t keep suffering. Most sleeping problems are totally treatable, though they’re not always obvious. Feeling drowsy during the day, snoring loudly, and relying on booze or meds to get some z’s are all signals you should see a specialist.

60. Even those of us without serious sleep problems
could use a little R&R. The Nidra Sleep Treatment ($130) at the Vida Wellness Spa ( ratchets up your chances for rest with an hour of aromatherapy plus a specially designed scalp, temples, neck, and shoulder massage that alleviates tension and relaxes the nervous system. Sounds dreamy.

61. Ski with the rest of us. 
Okay, so you’re tired of tippling toddies at the lodge while your friends have fun on the mountain, but the idea of downhill skiing sets your klutzy body ashudder. Consider cross-country. You get to glide through the pines and put in a muscle-making, calorie burning workout without all the balance and coordination requirements. The Summit Nordic Center ( at Snoqualmie will start you off with rental equipment and a group lesson—you’ll be sliding through the snow in no time.

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Image: Anna Locke

62. Calorie Count: Chips
Dinner and dancing makes for an awesomely active date, but if you’re doing Mexican, skip the chips: 20 tortilla chips with salsa adds about 251 calories to your meal, the amount you burn in 1.2 hours of tangoing. 

63. While scientists struggle 
to prove that green and white teas help reduce the risk of breast and prostate cancer, there’s no denying the relaxing effect of a steaming mug on a rainy Seattle afternoon. Pick a blend at Dandelion Botanical Company ( on Ballard Ave, where an apothecary-style “health bar” offers a staggering selection of all-natural tea types.

64. Bliss out at your desk. 
Here’s a simple meditation technique from Laura Defreitas, owner of Laura Nidra Yoga ( “One: Sit in a comfortable position with both feet flat on the floor below. Close your eyes and take a few deep, long breaths in and out. Allow your breath to settle into a slow natural rhythm. Feel the foundation beneath your seat and begin to lift and lengthen the spine. Two: Visualize your mind as a lake. At first, there may be waves on the surface of your mind-lake. These are your thoughts and concerns. Holding the image of the lake in your mind’s eye, bring attention back to the breath. Three: Slow down the flow of the breath and allow it to gradually become smooth and even. Your mind, which is closely related to the breath, will respond by becoming more calm and in time thought ripples will subside, allowing you to see clearly. Now notice how stilling the mind and focusing on breath, if only briefly, brings a profound sense of inner calm and centeredness. Continue meditating this way for five to 20 minutes. Then, open your eyes, stretch your legs, and, dwelling on the sensations of inner peace, continue with your day!” 

65. Snack smart.
Loaded with vitamins A, C, and K, kale chips taste roughly a million times better than you think they do and contain about 15 calories per ounce (potato chips have 150). To make: Grab a bunch of kale—we get ours from Willie Green’s Organic Farm at the U District Farmers Market ( )—wash, dry, then separate stems and leaves. Cut or rip leaves into chip-size pieces, spray or brush lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes at 375 degrees.

66. Twenty-four down, 
eight letters, starts with D, another word for losing your damned mind. Answer: Dementia. Fight it with daily crossword puzzles in The Seattle Times ( A 21-year study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that adults who regularly engaged in cognitive calisthenics such as crosswords reduced their risk of going senile by as much as 63 percent. Although no one knows exactly why the gridded word games help defend against the Swiss-cheesing of your brain, some scientists have hypothesized that specific areas of the cerebral cortex (including those responsible for memory and problem solving) get a much needed workout when you’re solving the puzzles. “Such mental exercises may strengthen connections between nerve cells,” notes Eric H. Chudler, research associate professor of bioengineering at the University of Washington, “or perhaps even create new connections.”

67. Dispose of your coffee-cup guilt. 
Buy DCI’s reusable and beautiful ceramic to-go cup called “I Am Not a Paper Cup.” Available for $20 at Victrola (

68. Beat your best time. 
Olympic Physical Therapy ( has nine centers around Seattle and the Eastside, and is famous for helping elite athletes recover from injuries and shave all-important seconds off their records. They help casual competitors, too. Sign up for athletic engineering, a 10-session program that uses physical therapy as a training, rather than recovery, technique. Experts will analyze your form and movements, then teach you technique to help you reach your peak performance while avoiding damage to your body. You’ll outdo yourself. Literally.

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