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Tips for Making and Keeping Healthy and Practical New Year’s Resolutions

Parkridge Health System January 03, 2012

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - Every year, people use January 1st as a kickoff date for a variety of New Year’s resolutions. New gym memberships are established, and healthier food options become popular as men and women dedicate themselves to regular exercise and proper diet. However, once the initial enthusiasm wears off, many people lose steam and end up abandoning their New Year’s goals. Dr. John Tapp, an internist with Parkridge Medical Center, offers tips on how to overcome obstacles and maintain these January 1 commitments.

1 – Set a reasonable goal and timelines for achievement. “Many people set themselves up for failure through ‘extreme goal-setting’,” notes Dr. Tapp. “If you fail to be realistic at the beginning of a program, you are more likely to become easily discouraged and give up your attempts at progress.” Instead of quitting smoking cold turkey or throwing out all the junk food in the house on Jan.1, people may find it easier to focus on cutting a few cigarettes each day until they get to zero, or eliminating one unwholesome food at a time from their diets. “If you can quit bad habits cold turkey, that’s great,” says Dr. Tapp, “but don’t underestimate the power of small changes - they can easily lead to bigger ones that, over time, create a healthier lifestyle.”

2 – Don’t overcommit. Dr. Tapp also advises making a few key New Year’s resolutions instead of a laundry list of changes: “You may find it easier to pick a couple of the worst habits – the ones that need changing the most - and go from there, rather than trying to drastically modify your lifestyle all at once.” By focusing on a few key areas, many people find their improvement efforts to be more effective. Again, the idea is that by mastering one set of changes, men and women can develop a foundation of healthier habits which can support further positive transformation.

3 – Make sure your resolutions are your own. People who modify their habits at someone else’s request are far more likely to fail or backslide into unhealthy behaviors. According to Dr. Tapp, “The best-kept resolutions are the ones that come from you– the ones that will help you to fulfill your own desires and not those of another person or group.”

4 – Use the buddy system. Find some friends to help you stick to your goals - several studies have shown that those who make lifestyle changes with a buddy are more likely to commit long-term to these healthier habits. “After all, it’s easy to talk yourself out of going for a walk, but it’s a lot harder to break plans with friends who are counting on you to accompany them,” says Dr. Tapp. Losing weight or quitting smoking can often be easier and more fun when done as a group, and can be a way to build relationships with others who share a commitment to a healthier lifestyle.

5 – Be creative. ‘Boredom with routine’ is a common reason given for breaking fitness resolutions. To avoid an exercise rut, “choose an activity you like – one that will get you moving,” recommends Dr. Tapp. “A commitment to exercise more often does not have to mean that you have to go to the gym five times a week.” Options available in the Chattanooga area include dance classes, indoor rock climbing, walking or biking along the Riverwalk, or hiking one of the many scenic trails in the region. “The key is to find several things you enjoy, and make a point to be active three to five times a week for at least 30 minutes each time.” For those whose New Year’s resolution involves a healthier diet, don’t get burnt out on the same-old ‘healthy’ food. To avoid sliding back into old habits, try new recipes when you get bored or look for a healthy cooking class in your community.

6 – Reward yourself! By keeping track of your activities, you will know when you have reached your goal. Celebrating success in a healthy way can further reinforce positive changes and create an incentive for maintaining your progress.

Following these tips can do more than help you meet the challenge of keeping those New Year’s resolutions. “In addition to giving you a personal sense of accomplishment, achieving and maintaining healthy habits can help you avoid costly medical complications down the road,” says Dr. Tapp.

About Parkridge Medical Center
Parkridge Medical Center has been providing advanced medical and surgical services with compassionate care to patients in the Chattanooga and north Georgia area since 1971. The Parkridge advantage is our focus on service, individualized care and convenience for our patients. The Sarah Cannon Cancer Center, an American College of Surgeons approved and commended oncology program, offers the latest in cancer diagnosis and treatment. Parkridge is an accredited chest pain center offering comprehensive cardiac care including diagnostic, surgical and rehabilitation services along with 24-hour emergency care, intensive care, Acute Rehab, surgical services, vascular care, orthopaedics, and a sleep disorders center. Parkridge was the first hospital in the region to perform robotics surgery and is home to the region’s most experienced team, with over 1200 robotic surgeries performed to date. Parkridge Medical Center, and its facilities Parkridge East and Parkridge Valley, is a part of the Parkridge Health System.

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