It can happen to the best of us. As the new year begins, you come up with a list of resolutions to help make you feel and look better and to keep you healthy. Everything goes well for a couple of weeks—you’re exercising, eating well and getting plenty of sleep. Then, as January progresses and you get back into the day-to-day routines of your life, those resolutions end up trashed like last month’s Christmas tree.
How do you make sure your healthy New Year’s resolutions don’t become empty promises? The key is not to set yourself up for failure. Trying to do too much, too soon or setting unrealistic goals are sure-fire ways to fail. A great way to stay on track is to make your health goals S.M.A.R.T. goals.
The acronym S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-related. Keeping these terms in mind can help you stay focused on your mission and feel good about yourself in the process.
Set Specific goals for yourself. For example, instead of saying you want to lose weight, tell yourself you want to lose a pant or dress size by March 1.
Your progress needs to be Measurable. Seeing your goals getting closer will encourage you to continue on your path. If you are in a strength-training regimen, measure how much weight you are lifting every day. If your goal is to lower your blood pressure through exercise, keep a chart of your blood pressure readings.
Do not set out to do too much. By keeping your goals Achievable, you won’t get overly ambitious. Come up with a plan. If you are currently not exercising at all, begin small by exercising one or two days a week. If you set your goal to exercise every day and you miss one or two days, don’t get discouraged. Focus on one or two objectives at a time and set additional goals as the year progresses.
Be Realistic with your goals. Your goal should not be to win a marathon if you have never started a running program before. Try setting a goal of running in a 5K, then shoot for a 10K race.
Make your goals Time-related. You will not lose 20 pounds overnight. Instead, try setting a goal to lose five pounds this month through healthy dieting and exercise and go from there. Keep track of your progress.
Resolve to Keep Healthy
Now you know how S.M.A.R.T. goals can help you keep your resolutions. What are your resolutions to become healthier in 2019?
Here are a few ideas to help improve health that anyone, regardless of age can do:
Get plenty of sleep. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a third of U.S. adults report they usually get less than the recommended amount of sleep. Not getting enough sleep is linked with many chronic diseases and conditions, such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity and depression. Sleep is not a luxury; most healthy adults need from seven to nine hours of sleep a night. If you have trouble sleeping, see your health care professional. View the CBS webinar on the Costs of Sleeplessness.
Go to your doctor. Make an appointment—and go—to see your primary care doctor once a year. Before you begin any exercise program or weight loss regimen, see your doctor to make sure your health is up to it. Having your blood pressure, cholesterol and weight checked and discussing any exercise or diet plan with your doctor will give you a good baseline to measure your progress. Even if you don’t have plans to change your diet or exercise routines, seeing your primary care doctor once a year will give you a better idea of your overall health and may uncover any underlying health problems.
In addition to a yearly checkup, there may be other times when you need to see a doctor, but circumstances won’t allow you to get to the physician’s office. If you are traveling or need a doctor after normal business hours, evenings or weekends, or if your primary care doctor is not available or accessible, there is Teladoc. Members enrolled for medical coverage in the trusts administered by Christian Brothers Services have 24/7 access to Teladoc’s panel of 3,100 board-certified physicians, 365 days a year. Teladoc physicians can discuss symptoms, recommend treatment options, diagnose many common, minor and/or brief illnesses and prescribe medication, when appropriate.
Take a walk. Walking requires no special skills and can be done anywhere. The CDC says walking for 2.5 hours a week—that’s just 21 minutes a day—can cut your risk of heart disease by 30 percent. Walking also has been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes and cancer, lower blood pressure and cholesterol and keep you mentally sharp. Walk with your significant other or your dog—they need exercise, too!
Eat healthier. We all have our food “vices”—whether they are pizza or chocolate chip cookies. The problem is when the vices become a main part of our diet. However, you don’t have to give up your treats to eat in a healthier way. Healthy eating is all about balance. You can enjoy your favorite foods occasionally, balancing them out with healthier foods and more physical activity. Get creative! Try snacking on fruit or cut up veggies instead of potato chips. Use yogurt or hummus in place of fatty dips. Have fish or salad for dinner one or two nights a week instead of red meat. In addition, drink plenty of water, which aids in digestion and makes you less likely to mistake thirst for hunger, which can lead to overeating.
Here’s to making—and keeping—resolutions for a healthier you this New Year!