How to get healthy in 2018

As 2018 approaches, people’s minds turn to New Year’s Resolutions. But, most people quit within just a few days.

Resolutions or health plans that are specific, measurable and reasonable can be achieved. Adding support increases the likelihood of success as well.

If you’re making a resolution — or a commitment — to better health in 2018, these tips will help you succeed.

1. Set specific goals

One of the biggest reasons people fail to keep resolutions is that they make them too vague.

  • Instead of resolving to lose weight, set a goal to lose a specific number of pounds in 2018.
  • Instead of resolving to get fit, set a goal to exercise a specific number of days each week.
  • Instead of resolving to give up sugary drinks, be specific. In 2018, I will eliminate all soda, sweet tea, slurpies, sugary coffee drinks and fruit juice from my diet.
  • Instead of resolving to give up caffeine, be specific. In 2018, I will eliminate caffeine from my diet by a specific date and not bring it back.
2. Set measurable goals

When making resolutions or commitments to better health, make them measurable. If you can’t measure improvement, you’ll give up.

  • When you commit to losing weight, determine how you will measure it. Those who make a goal of losing 1 pound a week or 3-5 pounds per month are more successful at keeping the weight off.
  • When you commit to getting fit, be realistic. The less active you are, the smaller your starting goal should be. Fitness trackers and apps can help you get started. Track the number of steps you walk in a typical day for a week. Raise the goal by 250 steps per day the next week, and so on, until you get to 10,000 steps per day.
  • When you commit to give up sodas and other sugary drinks, cut back every week until you eliminate them from your diet. Substitute water (flavored with fresh fruit slices if that helps) for one drink each day the first week. The next week, swap out two glasses of water for sugary drinks, etc. until they are all gone.
  • When you commit to give up caffeine, cut back every week until you eliminate it from your diet. You can quit “cold turkey,” but sudden caffeine withdrawal often triggers severe headaches.
3. Set reasonable goals

TV shows like The Biggest Loser and other fitness fads set unreasonable expectations. Very few people successfully lose weight rapidly and keep it off. Some of the contestants on The Biggest Loser have been interviewed years later, having regained all the lost weight. There’s a huge difference between focusing on weight loss and exercise 24/7 and a “real life” with job, kids, and other commitments.

If you haven’t taken a walk around the block in years, your muscles aren’t ready for it. Those who commit to exercise in the new year and push hard day one get sore or suffer injuries that set them back. Add exercise gradually, introducing your muscles to the added movement in stages so that you build strength the healthy way.

Likewise, if you’ve been drinking sugary drinks for years, you have trained your body to “like” that best. It takes time to reprogram your taste buds and help your body adjust to less “quick sugar” boosts. Give it time by gradually adjusting your diet for long-term success.

If you are giving up caffeine, cutting back gradually should prevent the severe headaches that often come with sudden caffeine withdrawal so that you can continue to live your regular life while getting healthier.

Try these resolutions (adjust goals to fit your specific needs), which are specific, measurable and reasonable.

  • In 2018, I will lose 20 pounds at a rate of 1/2-1 pound per week (2-4 pounds per month) by cutting calories and increasing my activity levels gradually each week.
  • In 2018, I will add physical fitness to my daily schedule. I will start by walking more steps each day until I reach 10,000 steps each day. When I get to 10,000 steps per day, I will add strength training two times per week, starting at 15 minutes each session and increasing to 30 minutes per session to build muscle to sustain my new healthy lifestyle.
  • In 2018, I will eliminate sugar from my diet (or caffeine or both) by substituting one 8 oz. glass of water for 8 oz. of unhealthy beverages each day for a week. The second week, I will substitute two 8 oz. glasses of water for two 8 oz. of unhealthy beverages each day for that week. The third week, I will substitute three 8 oz. glasses of water for three 8 oz. of unhealthy beverages each day for that week. And so on, until you eliminate all sugary drinks (including sweet tea, soda, diet soda, fruit juices, coffee beverages, slurpies, etc.)
  • In 2018, I will make healthy changes to my overall health by working with my physician to make achievable and measurable health goals, tracking them honestly in a daily journal and joining a support group and attending meetings to help me succeed.
4. Create a support system

When goals are specific, measurable and reasonable, they are attainable. If you aren’t sure where to start, we can help. Schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss a plan for better health. We can help you understand where you are right now and help you set goals to improve.

If you have chronic health issues, please schedule an appointment with us to discuss your health goals. We can help you develop a plan to achieve greater health without making other conditions worse.

Other support is available.

  • Our Resources Page has printable trackers and links to community groups focused on improving health. (CLICK HERE for the resources page)
  • Many gyms offer training classes to help you use the equipment properly or offer group stretching, aerobics and strength classes.
  • Use a fitness tracker (such as the FitBit) or an app on your phone to track your daily movement.
  • Use a calorie calculator app to track your diet — but be honest. You can cheat the calculator, but you can’t cheat your body. Measure foods for more accurate tracking.

**This article is not a substitute for medical care. If you have serious health issues or are not sure whether something is safe for you to do, make an appointment with your physician to discuss your health goals and develop a plan that will not put your health in greater risk.

BUT, don’t let that discourage you from getting healthier in 2018. With your doctor’s help, you can improve your health this coming year. We have seen Type 2 diabetics (and those at risk for diabetes) improve their health through exercise and weight loss over the course of time. We have helped many patients lose weight through lifestyle change (improving their diet, cutting calories and exercise) to improve their quality of life. We are here to help you every step of the way — starting with setting specific, measurable and reasonable goals to achieve improved health.

Use the patient portal to request an appointment with your provider. Take that first step toward better health.

We wish you a happy, healthy 2018!


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