It’s time to start brainstorming our next set of New Year’s resolutions.
The reason so many health and fitness-related goals fail is they’re just too hard to maintain. Take, for instance, resolving to lose a significant amount of weight or giving up ice cream forever; goals like these essentially require you to eliminate some aspect of your normal life and self. That’s a tough process.
You’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that just by learning a little and doing less, you might achieve a lot more. Consider the guidelines below as you build your resolve to live healthier in the coming year.
Learn a Little
“When it comes to understanding your own health, it’s important to be proactive. Consider seeing your physician to check your health status and discuss your risk for certain conditions and diseases,” says Felicia Jordan, M.D., F.A.C.P., a board-certified Internal Medicine physician at Kelsey-Seybold’s Katy Clinic.
If you don’t have a primary care physician, the time to select one is now. In the coming year, resolve to learn more and stay informed about your body and health. Dr. Jordan recommends setting goals to:
- Know your numbers. Check your blood pressure, cholesterol level, blood sugar, body mass index (BMI) and other key measurements.
- Schedule preventive health screenings. These can help detect and properly treat illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer in early stages. Ask your physician which tests are recommended for you, as well as when and how often you need them.
- Make sure you’re current on vaccinations. Immunizations help you and everyone around you stay healthy.
- Get a physical exam. Make it thorough!
“Everyone’s health needs are different, and your best New Year’s health resolutions are tailored to your needs,” says Dr. Jordan. “If you put some effort into figuring out what you really need, then you can prioritize your 2018 health goals and game plan accordingly.”
As in any decision making, being informed when goal setting helps grant you the necessary perspective to set yourself not only on the right direction, but also toward the right destinations as you take off on the highway to health.
Do Less to Achieve More
“Simple acts that take little time can amount to major differences in how healthy you look and feel. Next year, put more emphasis on creating healthy habits. Try setting lots of minor, task-like goals that you can easily accomplish each day,” suggests Dr. Jordan.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests taking one to five minutes each day (of the 1,440 minutes you have) to help you and your family have a safer and healthier life. In between your big and bold resolutions, try sprinkling in some small acts with big impact, such as:
- Take a break. Anytime you feel sick, stressed, or physically or mentally overwhelmed, get the mental and physical rest you need.
- Clean and disinfect. Wash hands with soap for 20 seconds and rinse with clean running water. Clean, then disinfect surfaces – especially in the kitchen and bathroom – and children’s toys regularly to eliminate germs and keep them from spreading. (And don’t forget cell phones.)
- Read food labels. Find out if, and how much, fat, cholesterol, sodium, sugars, protein, and other ingredients are in the product. Check the serving size so you know how much you can consume.
- Choose healthier foods. Choose foods high in fiber but low in saturated fats, like fruits, leafy greens, and whole grain cereals.
- Stay hydrated. Train yourself to drink six to eight glasses of water each day. If needed, set alarms to remind yourself to drink every 30 minutes.
- Combat the craving. If you smoke or use tobacco, stop. When you feel the urge to do it, don’t – instead, take deep breaths, drink water, chew gum, have a piece of candy, or do something else. The craving should pass in 2-3 minutes.
- Learn even more. Take 5-10 minutes to skim through an article or listen to a podcast about different health topics that interest you.
“Remember, it’s OK to not work hard all the time. Just because something doesn’t take a massive effort doesn’t mean it can’t give worthwhile results,” observes Dr. Jordan. “Reading food labels can be the difference in lowering calories, pounds, and cholesterol. It can also help increase and improve appearance and satisfaction. In addition to the long-term benefits of healthier habits, you’ll enjoy the sweet satisfaction of checking off multiple items on your New Year’s resolutions list.”