Did you know that most people quit their New Year’s resolution by the end of February? Every year, more than 70 percent of the population reports making a New Year’s resolution. A common theme is to get healthier by losing weight, quitting smoking, working out, etc., but many people abandon those goals early in the year. To make sure you are set up for success, we gathered a few medical professionals from across Parkridge Health System to give their insights on maintaining common New Year’s resolutions.
I want to exercise more.
“Increasing your activity level is a common goal. I encourage my patients to be more active and make a goal of meeting the recommended activity levels set forth by the American Heart Association. Regular physical activity leads to a healthier heart and a more enjoyable lifestyle. Increased physical activity helps reduce the rate of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, many cancers, stress and many other common health issues. Find an activity you enjoy and aim to get between 75-150 minutes of exercise a week, or approximately 10-20 minutes of daily activity, depending on the intensity of your workouts. Make exercise more enjoyable by finding a fun new exercise class, meeting up with a friend for a bike ride or taking a jog with your dog. And remember, any amount of activity is better than none!”
- Alison Bailey, MD, Medical Director, Cardiovascular Disease at Parkridge
I want to eat healthier.
“Many people make a resolution to eat healthier in the New Year, which can be an intimidating goal. Most people just need help finding a simple place to start. Here are four easy starting points I give my patients who want to implement healthier eating habits:
- Add more fruits and veggies to your meals. An easy way to begin is by starting your week by trying a new vegetarian or vegan recipe on ‘meatless Monday.’ An even smaller stepping stone is simply including a fruit and/or veggie in every meal. I also recommend using fruits instead of baked goods to satisfy a sweet tooth.
- Swap processed carbs like white rice, pastas and breads for whole grain alternatives and incorporate more oats, quinoa, barley, millet, rye and bran into your diet.
- Limit processed or convenience foods. While cakes, cookies, chips and candies can be an occasional treat, prioritize whole foods such as veggies, fruits and lean protein sources to fuel your body with nutrient-dense and satisfying meals.
- Portion out healthier snacks for easier snacking. Pack a single serving of low-fat cheese, nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables to ensure you have healthy options on hand when you need an afternoon pick-me-up.
- Plan out your meals and snacks before going to the grocery store and don’t go shopping while you are hungry.”
- Meghan Sprague, MS, RDN, LDN, registered dietitian nutritionist
I want to find exercises that I enjoy and can do without pain.
“Low-impact exercise is good for preserving the cartilage of hip and knee joints. For those who want to be active while avoiding joint pain, activities such as walking at a moderate pace, riding a stationary bike, using the elliptical and swimming can help you reach your health goals.”
- Martin Redish, MD, orthopedic surgeon
I’m going to quit smoking this year.
“A lot of people make it a goal to stop smoking but find that it can be incredibly difficult. Smoking directly causes many diseases that can lead to disability or death, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, COPD and emphysema. Globally, cigarette smoking causes more than seven million deaths per year. There are many approaches to kick the habit of smoking, though some show higher rates of success than others. The first step is to have a plan. On average, only about 5-7 percent of people who try to quit cold turkey are successful. Some support options that may increase your chances of success include behavioral therapy, nicotine replacement through special gum, patches, inhalers or prescription medications to help curb cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Talk to your primary care physician or pulmonologist about the best treatment plan for you.”
- Minerva Covarrubias, MD, pulmonologist
Whether you are trying to lose weight, quit smoking, or enjoy a healthy lifestyle, your primary care physician is an invaluable resource. Click here to find a primary care physician to help you achieve your personal health goals.