Resolving to lead a healthier lifestyle is a good way to begin the New Year. But don't despair if you still haven't confirmed your New Year's Resolutions; there's still plenty of time to choose a better path for the year ahead. “Millions of Americans make resolutions that go unresolved largely because they fail to utilize proven behavior modification techniques to support their new goals,” says Don R. Powell, Ph.D., president of the American Institute for Preventive Medicine in Southfield, Mich., and author of “365 Health Hints.” “For starters, it's important to set realistic goals for yourself,” he says. “It takes some time to develop good habits, so don't expect to change things overnight. In addition, try to work on only one habit at a time. It's not easy to change your behavior, and it can become overwhelming if you try to change too much, too soon.” Here are 10 major changes, pick 1 or 2 that are important to you ; work on them and move on to others when you have met your goals.
10 Quick Start Resolutions
I resolve to get physical. Sticking to a regular exercise routine is one of the most important steps you can take to improve your health and longevity. Starting this year, devote 30 minutes, three to four times a week to an aerobic activity you enjoy. Good choices include walking, running, swimming, biking, skating and aerobic dancing.
I resolve to maintain an ideal body weight. This year, eat high–fat foods in moderation. Approximately one in two Americans is overweight, and these extra pounds contribute to heart disease, diabetes, stroke and an increased risk of certain cancers.
I resolve to stop smoking and try avoiding those people who still light up. Cigarette smoking is the single–most preventable cause of illness in America today. Each year, six times more Americans die from cigarettes than were killed in the Vietnam War. Side stream smoke is just as bad; it can be deadly to nonsmokers who inhale it on a regular basis.
I resolve to control my blood pressure. If you haven't had your blood pressure checked recently, do so. Follow your doctor's instructions if it's high, and faithfully take any prescribed medication. If left untreated, high blood pressure is the primary cause of stroke.
I resolve to develop a strong social support network. Studies have shown that people who have supportive relatives, friends and co–workers are sick less often than those who don't. Be a friend to others and keep your family close and caring.
I resolve to reduce my cholesterol. This year have your cholesterol tested or retested, if necessary. The average cholesterol level in the United States is 215 –– 15 points above 200, which is considered healthy. If your level is high, follow your doctor's instructions and reduce your consumption of red meat, regular dairy products and food items high in saturated fats.
I resolve to control my hostility. For your heart's sake, make an effort to control a bad temper. Studies have indicated that anger and hostility may be as bad for your heart as smoking and high blood pressure.
I resolve to drink moderately, if at all. Of the 10 leading causes of death each year, alcohol is a contributing factor in six of them. Two corollary resolutions are to never drink and drive, and to never ride with someone who has been drinking.
I resolve to clean up psychological pollution. People who live long lives characteristically possess a positive attitude about life. Resolve to stop indulging in negative thinking which can pollute your mind and negatively influence your health and emotional well–being.
I resolve to always buckle–up. Make it a rule that you won't start your car until everyone is buckled–in. Wearing a seat belt greatly increases your odds of surviving a car accident.
“By keeping all 10 resolutions you can add years to your life and life to your years,” Dr. Powell says.
Wellness Library Health Ink and Vitality Communications © 2011
A Guide to Healthier Eating
Eating less junk food and adding more nutritious food to your diet is one change that can make a significant improvement in your nutrition and health.
You should cut back on foods that have only limited nutritional value, that are overprocessed or that contain too much fat, salt, sugar and refined white flour.
Instead, eat more foods that are:
Close to their natural state: fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables.
Less processed: whole grains.
Plain rather than flavored: unflavored milk, plain cottage cheese, plain yogurt. Choose low– or nonfat versions when available.
Healthier: olive oil instead of vegetable oil; vegetable oil instead of shortening; low trans–fat vegetable margarine over butter.
Better meat choices: poultry, fish and the leanest cuts of red meat.
More nutritiously prepared: broiled meats and raw, steamed or lightly microwaved vegetables. Avoid deep–frying foods and fatty sauces such as gravy, cheese and Hollandaise.
How to Use Your EAP
When help is needed call 1–800–433–2320 . The intake staff will ask for your name, employer and a brief description of your presenting concern. If an emergency exists you will be given immediate assistance. If your situation is not an emergency, you will be offered telephone assistance and/or in–person sessions to complete an assessment and make a referral for treatment if needed.
Meetings with your counselor are completely confidential. Your employer will not know you have used the EAP. No one will be provided any information about you without your written consent. Exceptions would occur only in the event of you being considered dangerous to yourself or someone else.
At the first appointment you should be prepared to give the counselor some background information to assist in formulating an action plan. Many people find it helpful to prepare a list of things they wish to discuss at each session.