New year, new resolutions: How to stay healthy in the new year
January 17, 2017
By Katie Coakley
Sponsored by Kaiser Permanente
A new year brings new resolve: to make healthier choices, to lose weight, to get in shape. More than 40 percent of Americans make new year's resolutions each year: 21.4 percent of people listed "lose weight/healthier eating" as a resolution for 2017, according to a survey by Statistic Brain.
In Summit County, Dr. Patricia Dietzgen, family medicine physician at Kaiser Permanente Frisco medical offices, hears several resolutions pop up time and time again.
"I typically hear people stating they are going to eat right and exercise; many have weight loss in mind," she said. "For the most part, patients have not completely thought through how to best accomplish these goals. They frequently stay on their new 'diet' or exercise program for four or five weeks and then start falling apart."
Resolve to stay healthy
"Lifestyle changes are one of the best ways to actually make your resolutions become successful," Dietzgen said. "By incorporating it into your daily routine, you have less chance of failure. But as we all know, change is very difficult."
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Goals or resolutions like adopting a healthy diet and increasing exercise will benefit everyone, Dietzgen said. Not only will you decrease your risks of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes, but you'll also live a longer, healthier, more active life. This also translates into fewer visits to the doctor.
It’s also important to not lose sight of mental changes, she said. "Think about how much better you’d feel if you were able to keep daily stress to a minimum."
Eating healthy, and enjoying daily physical activity, can also aid stress reduction, improve sleep and improve interpersonal relationships.
"Another measure I consider to be very important is being mindful," Dietzgen explained. "Becoming more mindful is easy to do and has tremendous benefits."
To practice mindfulness, try and be present in the moment. By focusing on the present, you’ll become less anxious, decrease stress and gradually can become more productive and happy. Some studies have even shown that it can boost the immune system.
Keep up the resolutions
But making a resolution and actually keeping it are two different things: less than 10 percent of people who made resolutions felt like they were successful in achieving their resolutions. However, Dietzgen had some suggestions for successfully achieving your goals.
"Make a plan," she said. "Start a new schedule. Making the change part of your daily routine will make it more attainable."
She also suggested starting in small amounts, like resolving to exercise 30 minutes a day, three days a week. "Even five to 10 minutes a day is a good start."
It's also helpful to pick an "easily attained exercise": walking, hiking, snowshoeing and biking are easy to start and don't require an inordinate amount of equipment. Even something as simple as using the stairs incorporates more exercise into your daily routine.
Make it easy to succeed: Keep workout gear, shoes and clothes close at hand. Keep set in your car or office and you won't have an excuse for skipping the gym or getting outside.
Recruiting a friend to do the activity with is also helpful, Dietzgen said — you'll keep each other on track and can motivate each other.
But it's also important to keep track of your own progress.
"You may start with one push-up, but by keeping track and writing it down, you can see how quickly you increase your numbers and repetitions," Dietzgen said. "You’ll not only feel better, but you’ll be measuring your success."
2017 could be your healthiest year yet — make those resolutions and utilize all of the resources available to make them stick.
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