About 45% of Americans make some form of a resolution for the New Year; with many of those including health conscious goals. Some goals are set too high and may not be realistic. Some resolutions are better for your health than others. For instance, going on a crash diet to lose a lot of weight quickly, can lead to a weakened immune system, cardiac stress, and dehydration. It also often results in quick regain of weight as soon as the “diet” is over.
Let’s talk about some healthy resolutions, and healthy ways to set those resolutions. First of all, you need to set reasonable goals. If you set a goal that is unreasonable, you are just setting yourself up for failure and feelings of guilt. When thinking about setting a goal, whether it be weight loss or exercise, try to set a small goal that you will be able to reach. Instead of resolving to lose 40 pounds, try setting your goal at 5 or 10 pounds. When you reach that goal, you can always set another goal for 5 more! You may be surprised at how satisfying it is to reach your goal, even if it is small.
Think of these resolutions as a change in lifestyle, rather than a “diet”, which we often consider temporary.
Instead of resolving to exercise a certain number of minutes or hours each week, resolv
e to spend as much time exercising each day as you spend watching TV. This will either push you to exercise more, or watch TV less, both of which would be good for you!
If weight loss is a goal you would like to achieve, consider resolving to get more sleep. Getting insufficient sleep is one of the causes of weight gain, because it causes hormonal changes that increase your appetite and impair your ability to metabolize sugar adequately.
Instead of focusing on eating fewer calories, why not focus on choosing foods that contain “healthier” calories. You might consider resolving to eat more healthy fats, rather than resolving to eat less fat. Replacing unhealthy fats with healthy fats, such as omega-3 and omega-9 fats, can make a difference in your overall health. Healthy fats don’t promote inflammation in the body like those unhealthy fats do. Healthy fats are found in foods like fish, avocados, olive oil, canola oil, walnuts. You might also resolve to choose more healthy carbohydrates, such as fruits and vegetables, and whole grains, rather than more processed carbohydrates such as potato chips. All calories are not created equal.
If improving your health is a goal that you would like to achieve, consider resolving to spend more face-to-face time with friends. Research has shown that individuals who don’t see friends in person regularly are more likely to have poor health than those who visit with friends regularly. Online “friendships” are not adequate to improve your health. You can have hundreds of friends on Facebook and still be quite isolated. People really do need people! Resolve to visit with at least two friends or relatives each week, particularly people with whom you feel comfortable being yourself.
Reducing stress is often a goal for the New Year. If that is one of your goals, consider resolving to focus on deep breathing for 5 minutes twice a day. You would be surprised how much that can reduce stress. You might also consider a resolution to try some meditation or Yoga. Maybe resolve to take more pictures of your loved ones to your office, which is also a way to reduce stress.
By making small changes, a little at a time, you can eventually make big changes in your life. These changes can improve your overall health, both physically and emotionally.
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Dr. Anita Bennett MD – Health Tip Content Editor