Dr. Tim Martin shares his perspective on how to gain and maintain better health from his years of experience as a primary care physician and wellness champion.
4 Resolutions for Better Health in 2022
A new year brings a clean slate. You can have a do-over for what didn’t go well the previous year.
As we think about what we’d like to improve, weight management and better health always top the list. While we all start off New Year’s Day motivated and with the best intentions, most resolutions are abandoned by the end of January. One reason for this decline in perseverance is that we start off with unrealistic goals.
By focusing on just four primary resolutions, you’ll still be on track by the time Christmas comes again. Within each resolution, chose a few simple practices you can incorporate into your daily life and you’ll be on a healthier trajectory for the year.
The types of food you eat and the quantity you eat will have the biggest impact on your nutrition and weight loss. But swearing off all sugar for a year or meticulous calorie counting is probably not realistic for long-term success.
Choose at least four of these manageable ways to eat healthier.
-Start a food journal to increase your awareness of what you’re eating and the emotions that lead to your choices.
-Find healthy recipes that inspire you. Research websites and food blogs for ideas or ask a friend.-Eat more orange food: Carrots, sweet potato, butternut squash and pumpkin.
-Eat more green food: Spinach, kale, arugula, and leaf lettuce or other dark leafy greens.
-Eat more red food: Strawberries, tomatoes, pomegranate and beets all offer benefits.
-Add broccoli, Brussels sprouts and/or cabbage two or three times per week.
-Spice things up. Consider include cinnamon, cloves, and ginger to help you eat food you normally don’t eat.
-Nuts make great snacks: Almonds, pistachios, peanuts, walnuts, etc. have beneficial protein, healthy fats, and some fiber.
-Pump of the volume with food with high water content like fruits and vegetables, soups and salads.
-Fill up on fiber for less hunger and benefits to your gut bacteria.
-Slow down while you eat and minimize the multi-tasking. Set a timer to make sure you are taking your time. You’ll enjoy your food more, you’ll eat less and have less digestive discomfort.
Tip: Know some healthy hacks. Instead of winding down with wine, try herbal tea. Having a snack attack? Brush your teeth. Eating will seem less desirable when you have a minty paste flavor in your mouth. Read It’s a Process: Learning to Cut Back on Processed Foods
Discard the perception that spending an hour in the gym every day is the only way to get exercise. If that works for you, keep going! But most people need activities that are more schedule-friendly.
Add some of these practices to burn some calories, keep your joints working and boost cardiac performance.
-Take the stairs whenever possible. Have a meeting on the 10th floor? Try getting to the third or fourth floor before catching an elevator.
-Commitment over convenience. Park far away from the entrance of your destination or walk to your destination when possible.
-Find an activity you like. Don’t plan on running if you hate it or swimming if you have no pool access. Tennis, dance classes, walking groups, Pilates or yoga clubs…If you enjoy it you’ll want to make it happen.
-Play with kids. Tag, backyard basketball or playing catch keeps you moving while you make memories.
-Walk a few times a week with your spouse, friend, neighbor or pet. Fresh air and companionship are added bonuses.
-Accountability for the win! Tell your spouse, friend or family member to remind you about your resolutions. Check in weekly to share your successes or your need for some encouragement. You can also use fitness apps to help keep track.
-Don’t let setbacks stall you. Life happens, and that makes completing any of the activities above less likely. Shake it off and start again tomorrow.
Tip: Walk around while talking on the phone, while waiting for your coffee to brew or waiting for your gas tank to fill up. Sit less, stand more, move often. Read Walk Your Way to Better Health.
Sleep is essential for feeling good, for healing and restoring your body and for staying mentally sharp. But most people sacrifice sleep for the demands of work and family or to consume entertainment.
Make quality sleep a priority. Here are some ideas to help you do it.
-Set a schedule. Get up and go to bed at the same time as often as you can.
-Give your technology a bedtime, too. Turn off phones, TVs and other screens one to two hours before bed to let your mind begin to calm down.
-Set a cut-off time for caffeine or alcohol. Consuming these drinks too close to bedtime interferes with falling asleep and staying asleep. This time varies by person but could be anywhere from 2.5 to 10 hours prior to bedtime. Find your cut-off time and be diligent with it.
-Practice a nighttime ritual. Take a warm bath, read for 30 minutes, stretch, pray or meditate. Whatever helps signal your mind and body that it’s time for beddy-bye.
-Make your bed a pet-free zone. Recent research shows that snoozing with furry friends decreases sleep quality.
-Keep your bedroom dark, quiet and cool and spring for some quality bedding to enhance your sleep.
-Get seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Schedule these hours like you do staff meetings or medical appointments. It’s that important.
Tip: If you continue to struggle with getting adequate sleep, develop specific sleep-related goals and strategies. See the Sleep Foundation’s goal chart. Read Better Sleep, Better Health: Your Daily Checklist.
Stress is a part of life. However, staying in an ongoing state of stress has adverse effects on your health, so take steps to manage it.
Integrate some of these stress management tactics into your life on a daily basis.
-Get adequate sleep and regular physical activity. See above.
-Sing. What’s a better mood booster than singing along to your favorite song while driving your car? Turn up the radio and go for it!
-Take time for your hobbies. Getting engrossed in a meaningful activity you enjoy helps you set aside life’s worries.
-Learn some breathing and stretching exercises. These go-to tactics can quickly dissipate stress. See Tip below.
-Practice self-compassion. Eliminate negative self-talk. People say things to themselves they would never say to a friend. Be as nice to yourself as you are to others.
-De-clutter your home or office. Feeling in control of your space translates to a calmer mind.
-Stay organized with a To Do list and/or planner so you can relax knowing that everything you need to do is documented and scheduled.
-Schedule time for fun. Be social with friends and share some laughter – the best medicine.
-Talk to a trusted friend or family member. Sharing your thoughts and feelings relieves the pressure.
Tip: For quick stress relief, lie face down on the floor and begin breathing deeply and slowly, with your hands resting under your face for five minutes. Read The Stress-Health Connection.
Get started on your new year’s resolutions by texting our office at 325-268-0650 and see how the LifeLong program will help you achieve a healthy 2022 and beyond. You can also book your appointment here.