By: Steve Bond

December is the time for giving and receiving gifts. For many, it is better to give than receive.

This is especially true if your true love is the one from the twelve days of Christmas. I hardly have room for one pear tree in my house let alone 12! And maids milking? You know they are bringing their cows or goats or whatever it is they are milking. This year, give yourself the gift of health.

On the first day of Christmas, put yourself first. All too often, we do for others and let our own self suffer. Commit to looking after you this year.

On the second day of Christmas, reach out to a friend of family member you haven’t spoken to in a while, perhaps go on one of many amazing walking paths that St. Thomas has to offer.

On the third day of Christmas, plan to eat three healthy meals per day. Skipping meals and subsequent snacking can lead to weight gain and loss of energy.

On the fourth day of Christmas, take in a movie. Something fun and not heavy. For me, it’s Star Wars; May the Fourth (day of Christmas) be with you. Perhaps check out a film like Total Recall or scary stories to Tell in the Dark and look for friends in the extras or local landmarks.

On the fifth day of Christmas, make sure you select from all five food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, milk and dairy and lean meats.

On the sixth day of Christmas, aim for a six-pack — I don’t mean beers, but add some exercise to your daily routine. While the six-pack stomach may not be achievable for most of us, we can improve our health.

On the seventh day of Christmas, if you are taking multiple medications consider a seven day pill organizer or ask your pharmacist to package.

On the eighth day of Christmas, try to get eight hours of sleep each and every night. Sleep deprivation can affect our mood and productivity.

On the ninth day of Christmas, consider taking up a hobby. In Greek mythology there are nine muses to inspire them.

On the tenth day of Christmas, spend 10 per minutes per day on cardiovascular exercise to increase blood flow, reduce blood sugars and improved endurance.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, reduce your salt intake. The atomic weight of sodium is 11 and too much sodium can increase blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, take time for some spiritual reflection. 12 is an important number in many established religions: 12 apostles in Christianity;

12 Olympians and 12 titans in Greek mythology; the Norse God Odin has 12 sons.

So this Christmas season, give yourself the best gift — the gift of health. Take care of yourselves and each other.