As humans, we look to a new year for a fresh start, especially regarding our health. Toward that end, we make resolutions, which we have every intention of keeping but which are often forgotten by February.
Our concierge doctors in Jupiter, Florida at MD2.0, would like to offer you some ideas on small ways to improve your overall health that we hope you’ll find easier to stick with.
How to keep resolutions
The secret to keeping the resolutions you make is to be sure they are: (a) specific; (b) achievable; and, (c) ones you really want to keep, rather than ones you think you should. The latter guideline may seem obvious, but too often we make resolutions that our loved ones or society at large thinks would be good for us. If we don’t really want to make these changes, we simply won’t over the long term.
Specificity is important, too. Rather than declaring, “I’m going to lose weight,” we would do better to say, “I’m going to restrict sweets to the weekends, and only after dinner.” That’s because “I’m going to lose weight” is too large a task. It doesn’t give us a path toward achieving this goal. That makes it almost impossible to accomplish. But a pledge that says, instead of starting each morning with a donut and dipping into the candy on the receptionist’s desk every day, you’ll still allow yourself to indulge in sweets but less frequently, is something you can achieve. And it will eventually produce real results.
Another reason people fail with their New Year’s resolutions is because they choose too many, in too many areas of their lives. They expect to change themselves overnight into the ideal person they’ve always wanted to be, and are disappointed when they fall back into their old ways. Spend some time thinking of what would make you feel better about yourself, and plan your resolutions around small changes you can make to get closer to that vision.
Some easy resolutions
With these guidelines in mind, here are six suggestions for resolutions that will have a positive impact on your health, and should be fairly easy to achieve. Pick two or three that appeal to you, or come up with a few of your own, and promise yourself you’ll stick with them.
- Taste your food before adding salt. You don’t have to cut out salt entirely, or even aim to “cut back.” Just don’t automatically reach for the salt shaker while cooking or before eating.
- Wait one hour in the morning before having your first cigarette, and skip the one you usually have before bedtime. Or plan to chew a stick of gum in place of every other cigarette you’d normally smoke. Of course, we’d prefer that you quit smoking altogether, but if you’re not ready for that, cutting back is better than nothing. (And see us when you are ready—we can help!)
- If it’s not raining, park at the end of the parking lot instead of searching for the space closest to the store entrance. And take a 15-minute walk at lunch or after dinner. Walking is good for your mental state, your waistline, and your cardiovascular health.
- Try one new dish a week that substitutes baking for frying, or herbs for a cream sauce, or a vegetable in place of bread and butter. If you love chips and dip, for example, try the dip with carrot sticks or celery instead.
- Go to bed 30 minutes earlier at night. If that’s too much, try for 15. Seven or eight hours’ sleep is ideal, but even that little bit extra will make a difference in your blood sugar, mental health, and immune system.
- Practice proper belly breathing, especially when you’re stressed. Learning to breath from your abdomen instead of your chest can help you fight anxiety, lose weight, and sleep better, among other benefits. To do: Lie flat, place one hand on your chest and one on your belly. Breathe slowly, ensuring the hand on your belly rises and the hand on your chest doesn’t move. That’s it.
Yes, these are small resolutions, but when you see how easy they are to achieve, and how proud you’ll be for sticking to them, you’ll likely want to expand on those that are important to you and take them another step further. Walk even more, for example, or take up an exercise class.
As the saying goes, the longest journey begins with a single step. You don’t have to resolve to spend an hour a day at the gym, or cut out sugar altogether. Start with small changes and celebrate your wins, then begin to incorporate more of them into your life. A healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be either difficult or austere. It’s a simple matter of making more conscious choices.
Happy New Year!