The most popular New Year’s resolutions have to do with health and wellness and rightly so. Overall good health and well-being lend to a longer and higher quality of life. What goals should we set this year to achieve overall better health? And how can we stay consistent and succeed at our goals?
Achieving and maintaining a normal weight should be at the top of the list of goals. The battle of losing or maintaining weight takes a combination of a well-balanced diet and exercise with a realistic plan. Keep in mind that you want to develop the tools and lifestyle to not only lose weight but maintain the weight loss throughout life.
I generally tell my patients to focus on 5-7 pounds at a time. Start out with a goal of working out 3 times a week and slowly work up to the 6 times a week that is needed to achieve weight loss. Review your current eating habits and set a goal of cutting out 50-60 percent of the high calorie, fat or sugary foods that you consume and replace that with fruits and vegetables. Avoid skipped meals and don’t forget to snack healthily between meals to boost metabolism.
It is important to assess your progress on a regular schedule so you can adjust your diet, exercise frequency or exercise intensity as needed. It is also important to stay positive with your progress and consistently encourage yourself. Lastly, find ways to keep yourself inspired – ask a friend to join you in your work-outs or occasionally sign up for a new class at the gym to break up the routine.
The New Year is a great time to assess your mental health. This part of our health is often overlooked but is crucial to our general well being. Have you been feeling anxious, stressed, easily irritated or have mood swings? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, set time aside to figure out what the cause may be.
Common stressors are a sick loved one, job stress and/or marital stress. Try and work on the relationships in your life that are causing you stress. For stressors that you do not have control over, turn to different stress relievers or try and develop a fresh outlook towards the stress. A well-balanced diet, consistent exercise routine and an enjoyable hobby can all help to decrease stress. If you are still battling a low mood or irritability after trying these things than make an appointment to see your primary care provider.
Avoid excess alcohol and quit smoking
Excessive drinking can lead to dependency on alcohol, excessive weight gain and liver problems. If you are drinking too much alcohol (i.e. more than 7-8 drinks a week or more than 4-5 drinks in one sitting) than cut back. If you have trouble cutting back on alcohol, talk to your primary care provider.
Smoking increases a person’s chances of stroke and heart attack and lung disease dramatically. Set a quit date if you are a smoker and discuss the date you want to quit with your provider so that he or she can give you options on how to cut cravings.
Overall, I believe that setting attainable goals for maintaining a healthy weight and a healthy mind while avoiding harmful substances to your body can lead to an improved quality of life in 2013!
Remember to stay consistent and stay positive. Happy New Year!
- Joi Johnson-Weaver is a Family Medicine physician at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center at Perry Hall practice.