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Founding Father Benjamin Franklin's 13 virtues of health and wellness

Benjamin Franklin Wikipedia/Joseph Duplessis

This Fourth of July, let us turn to a surprising but inspiring role model in the time-honored tradition of self-improvement: Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin, a beloved Founding Father, was deeply introspective and constantly working on his own character and habits. When he was twenty, he created a list of 13 virtues that he wished to achieve. While his (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) ideal was moral perfection, he understood that he could not improve every aspect at once. So, he focused on one virtue a week, a plan that he followed to some degree for the rest of his life.

Here's his plan for cultivating life-long good habits through his lens of virtue adapted for the world of health and wellness by author Julie Sugar, who frequently blogs about health and writes for Lilith magazine's blog, and the HealthPop staff.

Founding Father Benjamin Franklin's 13 virtues of health and wellness

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Temperance

Serve the appropriate portion size to yourself at meals. Use the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) handy guide to help you figure out what the right size is. This also means no overeating or mindless grazing on snacks.

The CDC also reminds people that many restaurant portions are often larger than the recommended portion size. Ask for a take-out box when you order so you can put half of your dish away or split an entree with a friend. At home, serve food directly on plates instead of bringing the entire pan to the table to stop second and third helpings. If you want to snack, you can place the amount that you want to eat in a bowl or container instead of eating right out of the box to avoid overeating.

Drink, if you drink, with restraint. The Mayo Clinic suggests one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men.

Founding Father Benjamin Franklin's 13 virtues of health and wellness

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Silence

Reap pleasure from focusing inwards rather than outwards onto others. You can do this by doing or learn to do things alone that make you happy. Minimize social interactions that do not fulfill you. HealthPop reported that research has shown that happy people were 35 percent less likely to die an early death. In a five year study of elderly Brits, seven percent of the least happy people died by the end of the study while only four percent of the happiest group died.

Founding Father Benjamin Franklin's 13 virtues of health and wellness

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Order

Balance your time thoughtfully between the various aspects of your life, be it personal or professional; attend to any of your unfinished business; organize your belongings and your home. HealthPop reported that supermoms -- who try to do everything -- end up being more depressed than realistic moms who realize they can't do it all.

To keep your life from being too cluttered, take a look at what Dr. Henry Emmons -- author of "The Chemistry of Calm" -- advises,

including looking for the signs including changes in your habits and physical health that might have been caused by anxiety.

Founding Father Benjamin Franklin's 13 virtues of health and wellness

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Resolution

happy, man, eating, vegetables, healthy, veggies, asian, stock, 4x3Create a positive feedback loop of following through on your commitments, like sleeping seven hours a night, which is the healthiest for your heart according to HealthPop.

You can also try to consume of those vegetables that you swore you would eat more of since you were a kid. According to the USDA, you should opt for vegetables with more potassium like sweet potatoes, white potatoes, white beans and tomato products. Avoid extra sauce and seasonings, and try to prepare foods from fresh ingredients. If you need to use canned goods, use items with labels that say "reduced sodium," "low sodium," or "no salt added."

Founding Father Benjamin Franklin's 13 virtues of health and wellness

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Frugality

Pack your lunches. WebMD

suggests that by creating a better sandwich with interesting ingredients like olive tapenade or grilled eggplant and making different items like wraps will make your brown bag lunch look more appetizing.

To save even more money, cook your dinners. The USDA adds that a home cooked meal can help you make better choices about what you are eating and how much you eat. If cooking regularly is a challenge, prepare additional servings in advance.

Founding Father Benjamin Franklin's 13 virtues of health and wellness

Letting the minutes tick by photo courtesy flickr user Oran Viriyincy

Industry

Combine time with friends with fitness activities or healthy meals; be productive at all hours, including personal pursuits; when you catch yourself procrastinating, return to the task at hand. According to the American Psychological Association, 20 percent of U.S. men and women are chronic procrastinators, with people in the Northwest -- consisting of northern California, Washington and Oregon -- the most guilty of procrastinating. Especially since technology makes it easier to procrastinate -- think of how many times you hit the snooze button -- we should avoid temptation to surf the Web or check our email on our phones if we have more important tasks at hand.

Founding Father Benjamin Franklin's 13 virtues of health and wellness

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Sincerity

Say and do everything fully and without pretense or cutting corners; no bluffing at any time, be it while working out or having a conversation with a friend, colleague, or significant other. You should especially not engage in cheating, lest you are ready to face physical consequences: A study has shown that cheating men are more likely to suffer from penile fractures, according to HealthPop. Research from the University of Florida has also shown that men who cheat are more likely to have "a higher risk of major cardiovascular event," according to a paper published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Founding Father Benjamin Franklin's 13 virtues of health and wellness

Justice

Identify the people and the issues in your life that also require your attention and responsibility; act with fairness towards others in your world, and especially act with fairness towards yourself. This means not cheating on aspects of your life, including your diet. To help you keep up with cutting the food intake, try diets that are easy to stick to and that are proven to work like the low-glycemic index diet.

Founding Father Benjamin Franklin's 13 virtues of health and wellness

Want your bones to earn interest? Start saving now! Playing sports, lifting weights, running, and almost any activity that moves muscle will trigger your bones to lay down more minerals and get stronger and more dense. Since bone density peaks around age 30 and then starts to slip away, the more you build in youth, the more you'll have to "spend" later. Think of it as your bone 401(k). "When you have more money in the bank prior to bone loss, you won't reach a level of deficiency that sets you up for fracture," says Dr. Felicia Cosman, clinical director of the National Osteoporosis Foundation. More from Health.com: 11 foods for healthy bones istockphoto

Moderation

Exercise neither too intensely nor not intensely enough. According to the Mayo Clinic, this means understanding your exercise intensity and paying attention to how you feel and your heart rate. You should also participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, as well as strength training exercises at least twice a week.

Founding Father Benjamin Franklin's 13 virtues of health and wellness

Rinse the pollen out, especially if you're a gel or mousse fan. These products can trap pollen.More from Health.com: 10 worst plants for your allergies istockphoto

Cleanliness

Maintain important hygiene routines, especially flossing. Your mouth has a lot to say about your health. Your lips, mouth, teeth and breath can signal problems in your body. Though plaque in your mouth is different from plaque in your heart and arteries, the toxins in mouth plaque stimulate a chronic inflammatory response linked to diseases like heart disease.

Founding Father Benjamin Franklin's 13 virtues of health and wellness

Yoga is a great de-stressor. A New Delhi study recently found that yogic breathing exercises reduced blood pressure in people with hypertension, possibly through their effects on the autonomic nervous system, which governs heart rate, digestion, and other largely unconscious functions. But people should not think of yoga as providing the same benefit as aerobic exercise, Burg says. "Each potentially produces benefit in different ways."More from Health.com: Heart trouble? 30 herbal remedies to avoid istockphoto

Tranquility

Follow paths that lead to stress relief and peace; some choose therapy, meditation, yoga, keeping a journal, or exercise, and discover what inspires you and what soothes you.

Relieving stress does not only feel good, it may help you lose weight, too. HealthPop reported that the combination of low stress levels and the right amount of sleep increased the chances of people hitting their weight loss goals.

Founding Father Benjamin Franklin's 13 virtues of health and wellness

In 2001, Peter Chung, an employee at South Korean firm The Carlyle Group, sent an email to friends updating them on life in his new home. His subject line: "Living like a king." An excerpt from the note detailed Chung's sexual exploits... "The main bedroom is for my queen size bed,...where CHUNG is going to **** every hot chick in Korea over the next 2 years (5 down, 1,000,000,000 left to go).... the second bedroom is for my harem of chickies..." The financier from London resigned after his email, which his friends found to be very entertaining, was forwarded around the world. istockphoto

Chastity

Yikes! Embarrassing emails that went viralAvoid empty sensory indulgence that exists only to satiate, without purpose or connection, a craving. Engage with intention in physical pleasures, including eating and, yes, sex too. In fact, a study at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School's Center for Adolescent Health found that more empathetic men and women had better sex lives, HealthPop said.

Founding Father Benjamin Franklin's 13 virtues of health and wellness

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Humility

kid, boy, youth, couch potato, watching tv, lazy, bored, sloth, stock, 4x3Be aware of your limits; ask for help when and where you need it. Support can come in many shapes and for many reasons. If you are interested in changing your eating habits, WebMD can guide you on how and why to find support. Or, you can try getting off the couch and eating more fruits and vegetables, as HealthPop suggested. It might seem obvious, but a study has shown that these changes were the easiest to maintain for a healthier lifestyle.

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