Every year you promise yourself that you’ll eat more vegetables, wipe the dust off your gym membership and watch your overall health. January might go by with three square meals a day and frequent gym visits, but then you fall off the wagon and shrug—there’s always next year.
Changing your life is not easy, but it doesn’t have to be hard and it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It does require commitment, reasonable goals and patience. Whether your New Year’s resolution is to eat better, be more active or manage your stressful life —or perhaps you’re hardcore and want to take on all three—here’s some tips to get you through the New Year.
NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION NUMBER ONE: EAT HEALTHY
The food pyramid doesn’t have to be a taunting symbol of foods you don’t like.
“There are no bad foods,” said Dr. Thomas Schneider, who practices health and wellness at Florida Healthspan Institute. “Even doughnuts serve a purpose. The problem is too much doughnuts.”
Portions are a big problem. Dr. Edwin Taylor, family medicine physician at Baptist Health Care, suggests the one-half rule.
“If you have to eat at the Burger Barn, instead of the number one combo, get the kid’s meal,” he said in an e-mail interview. “Or eat one-half of the sandwich and share the other. You’d be surprised how quickly you get full at lunch once you eat a small meal.” The best diet plan?
“Eat a little, mostly veggies and protein, and eat often,” Dr. Schneider said.
Even though you may hate to admit it, your parents were right, breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.
“Eat like a king at breakfast, eat like a prince at lunch and eat like a beggar at dinner,” Dr. Schneider said.
And remember to not think of healthy foods as a diet, but a lifestyle change. One food fad is buying organic. While going veggie or vegan can be a hard transition, buying organic products can be a great addition to your healthy resolution.
“The benefit of organic products is that you know where the food comes from,” said Samantha Williams, marketing and member sales assistant at Ever’man.
Eating better also means being a conscious label reader.
“Everybody’s busy, but it only takes a minute to stop and think about what you’re eating,” Williams said.
And if you’re going “all natural” read very carefully.
“Many products out there which claim to be all natural, but may not necessarily be ‘clean’ – free of pesticides or certain processes – which the USDA Organic certification guarantees,” Williams said. “Anyone can say their product is all natural.”
You can shop for organic goods at Ever’man without a membership, although they’re only $12 a month. A popular item at the grocery store is Kombucha, a fermented tea drink full of probiotics and all the greens you need in one day. It also helps hangovers, so stock up before New Year’s Eve (although with your new lifestyle, alcohol—like everything—should be in moderation). If you’re at a chain grocery store, shop the outside isles where you’ll find fruits, veggies, dairy products and breads. Speaking of bread, “if it’s white, don’t bite,” said Dr. Schneider.
NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION NUMBER TWO: BE ACTIVE
Whether you’re dancing, walking your dog or just taking the stairs instead of the elevator, move a little. Doctors recommend about 30 to 45 minutes of physical activity a day, but it doesn’t mean you do nothing if you don’t have the extra time.
“Ten minutes of activity a day is better than no activity at all,” Dr. Taylor said.
Dr. Schneider advises breaking up the 30 minutes. Try 15 minutes of resistance training and another 15 of some type of aerobic training.
“My rule is if you eat that day, exercise that day,” he said.
Dr. Logan Richards, an internal medicine physician at Baptist, recommends the buddy system and to work a little harder each day.
“Start with whatever level you’re comfortable with and try to push yourself over time,” he said.
Set realistic goals when you work-out.
“You don’t have to look like the beastie man on magazine covers,” Dr. Taylor said.
A common excuse for being inactive is the cost of a gym membership. Gyms are a great excuse to get out of the house and you can also get tips from personal trainers, but they are not the last word on fitness.
“Some sit-ups at home, a few push-ups and calisthenics and you have exercised more than the average American,” Dr. Taylor said.
Sometimes, you can work-out without setting the time aside.
“At work, take the stairs instead of the elevator, park further away from the door wherever you go,” Dr. Taylor added.
Before you begin a full fitness regime, make sure to contact your doctor first. “Consideration of medical issues will be key in determining some options,” said Dr. Ken Mitchell of Medi-Weight Loss Clinic.
Even after you’ve hit your goal, remember not to fall off the wagon.
“Losing the weight is probably the easier piece of the puzzle,” Dr. Mitchell said. “Only when the goal is reached does the journey begin. Without a commitment to a lifestyle change, most will be unsuccessful at keeping the weight off.”
NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION NUMBER THREE: DE-STRESS
Once you’ve taken care of your outside, it’s time to go a little deeper. It seems that now, more than ever, it is harder to find peace and relaxation. Cell phones are an appendage and coffee is a main source of fuel. It’s important to know that a “new you” means an entire transformation, not just a fridge full of veggies and hours logged on a treadmill.
“Medical care starts at home,” Dr. Schneider said. “Your body is your home. If you don’t take care of it, where are you going to live?”
Start each day right by going to bed early and getting the proper amount of sleep. Dr. Taylor suggests six to eight hours a night. Make it a point to go to bed at the same time every night and turn off all lights and television.
“If you can’t fall asleep get out of bed or sit up and read or write as opposed to fighting it,” said Dr. Schneider. “The occasional use of melatonin is okay, too. It’s an excellent natural herb.”
“The most important thing you have to understand is you have to get some sleep every night or you will be worthless in trying to achieve your goal,” Dr. Taylor said.
During the day when you have to balance your life, make sure to take a few minutes to break and relax.
“If you’re lucky enough to have a window in your office, look at the leaves and the clouds,” said Dr. Schneider.
And remember to breathe. Four to 10 deep breaths, four inhales and six to eight exhales, are good ways to de-stress during the day.
“The deep breaths release neurotransmitters to help calm you.”
Classical music is also a good tool.
“Supermarkets beat us to that,” Dr. Schneider said.
How much coffee or sweet tea do you drink in a day? You probably need to cut back since caffeine is a stress indicator. Sometimes, stress is more than lack of sleep and a Starbucks overload.
“You have to identify the stressors you can solve and those you cannot,” Dr. Taylor said. “The sooner you accept that a situation is out of your control or is not affecting you right this minute, the sooner you can move on. If there is a solution, then lay out the steps and get busy.”
Getting snappy with friends and family, weaving in and out of traffic like a madman and the inability to unwind or “turn off” your brain are just a few warning signs that you may need professional help.
Make your New Year count. Make a resolution that is obtainable and set small goals for yourself that will lead to an even bigger goal: a new and improved you.
“The best way to make a positive impact on one’s life is to focus on the goal and the value of the goal,” said Dr. Mitchell. “Our bodies are our most precious commodity.”
If you’re weary of making yet another resolution, then don’t. Simply tell yourself you’re going to visit the doctor, eat your peas and take a walk outside.
“New Year’s resolutions are last year’s promises to yourself,” Dr. Taylor said. “We approach these resolutions from the wrong standpoint. What we really want to do is make a lifestyle modification. It doesn’t have to be a New Year for you to get moving with your plan.”
DR. THOMAS SCHNEIDER
4501 N. DAVIS HWY. Ste. C
DR. EDWIN TAYLOR
BAPTIST MEDICAL GROUP FAMIILY MEDICINE- WESTSIDE
6715 HWY 98 W.
DR. LOGAN RICHARDS
GULF BREEZE MEDICAL OFFICE BUILDING
1118 GULF BREEZE PKWY.
DR. KEN MITCHELL
910 ROYCE ST.