How to Realistically Achieve 5 Common New Year's Resolutions
Making a resolution to be healthier in the New Year is nothing new. Each year, people vow to lose weight, eat better and take more time to themselves. But old habits die hard. By March, motivation fades and people slip back into their old ways, making it difficult to keep up with their healthy goals—better luck next year.
This doesn't have to be the case. It's possible to turn a New Year's resolution into a permanent change by setting realistic goals and following a detailed plan.
Our health experts are here to help you set goals and develop a plan to realistically achieve five common New Year's resolutions for better health.
Find something you like to do. If you like yoga, find classes you can attend a few times per week. If you like biking, find a local trail and get going. On the other hand, if you hate running, don't sign up to do a 5K thinking it will make you exercise—you probably still won't like it and you will find excuses not to run!
Schedule the time in your calendar. If you don't have the time already planned out, you'll find something else to fill it.
Avoid fad diets, food trends, and quick fixes. Just because it is the New Year doesn't mean you need to hop on a radical band wagon and change everything about how you eat. This common pitfall is why a lot of people lose steam before spring. Crash or fad diets usually result in fast weight loss, but also rapid weight gain afterwards. The best way to improve diet and lose weight is to start small, and make one significant change at a time. These things may include snacking less or drinking less sugary beverages such as iced tea, fruit juice, soda, etc. It might also mean changing how your family eats together. Whatever the changes are, working through each one on its own is the best way to have long lasting results.
Don't try to quit cold turkey. Less than 5% of people who go cold turkey will be successful. Speak to your doctor about nicotine replacement therapy—patches, gum, medication, etc. You're four times more likely to find success that way. You'll also eliminate approximately 4,000 toxic chemicals that are found in cigarette smoke from entering your body. You'll be left with the nicotine, which is the addictive element, but the replacement therapy allows you to wean yourself off usually within 12-24 weeks. By speaking to your doctor, picking a stop date and creating a plan for nicotine replacement therapy, you'll put yourself in a good position to quit.
Get More Sleep
The best way to meet a goal of getting more sleep is to start slowly. Try getting into bed just 15 minutes earlier. Each week, try moving that bedtime slightly earlier; even a few minutes will help. Be sure you shut off all electronic devices. The back light from phones and tablets actually inhibit sleep. Light tells the brain that it's time to wake up. If you want to get to sleep, shut these electronics off and get to bed. If you do this gradually, with the goal that each week you'll add 15 minutes of sleep per night, then in a month you'll be up to an hour. Every adult needs between 7-9 hours of sleep. If that becomes your goal, you'll meet it.
Make Regular Doctor Appointments
Everyone should be seen at least once a year for a physical that includes a blood pressure check. At this appointment, you can discuss with your primary care physician other preventative services that you may need based on your gender, age and other medical conditions. These may include vaccines, mammograms or lipid screening, for example. Most insurance companies require that preventive visits be scheduled 365 days apart, so if you had a physical on January 1, 2015, your next scheduled physical should be January 1, 2016 or later. If it has been a while since your last physical, a good way to remember to do it is to schedule it around your birthday. Think of your health as a gift to yourself!
Robert Promisloff, DO, is a pulmonologist at Drexel Medicine. He specializes in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and sees patients at Drexel's Comprehensive Lung Center.
Joanne Getsy, MD, is medical director of the Drexel Sleep Center. She is recognized as one of the top physicians in the field of sleep medicine in the Philadelphia area and treats patients with a host of sleep disorders as well as patients with pulmonary diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive lung disease.
Susanna Evans, MD, is a primary care physician at Drexel Medicine. She is the medical director at Drexel Medicine's University City location and specializes in family medicine and preventative medicine.
The information on these pages is provided for general information only and should not be used for diagnosis or treatment, or as a substitute for consultation with a physician or health care professional. If you have specific questions or concerns about your health, you should consult your health care professional.
The images being used are for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted is a model.
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