Reasonable Resolutions

Millions of people make New Year’s resolutions to diet and exercise, looking to elaborate rigorous exercise regimes at the gym and restrictive diets. Often we set such unrealistic goals for ourselves that we set ourselves up for failure. That’s why every January 7, millions of people stop going to the gym and pick up their forks again in revolt! Don’t fret, here are 4 sensible small lifestyle adjustments that are easy to stick with. These are sure to set you on the road to good health this year!

Posted on | Leigh Vinocur, MD FACEP | Comments ()

Millions of people make New Year’s resolutions to diet and exercise, looking to elaborate rigorous exercise regimes at the gym and restrictive diets. Often we set such unrealistic goals for ourselves that we set ourselves up for failure. That’s why every January 7, millions of people stop going to the gym and pick up their forks again in revolt! Don’t fret, here are 4 sensible small lifestyle adjustments that are easy to stick with. These are sure to set you on the road to good health this year!

Don’t go on a diet; it’s one of the dreaded 4-letter words. You don’t have to go to extremes. Start with leaving a quarter to half of the food on your plate; even leaving one last bite and not cleaning your plate is a start! If you are at a restaurant, take half home. Another easy way to begin is to give up white foods, meaning no white bread, white rice or white pasta. Substitute with whole grains; they are filling and take a while to digest. Studies show they are healthy for your heart and gastrointestinal tract and don’t cause blood sugar fluctuations which, in turn, cause hunger and cravings. Also, give up white sugars hidden in sodas, processed foods and sweets. You’ll lose weight seemingly without effort. Now add in as many colorful fruits and veggies as you want. They are filling and chock-full of vitamins and minerals, with practically negligible calories! In addition, try some lean protein like fish or chicken and you’ll be lighter and glowing from the inside out.

Exercise. It’s the first thing to go when your schedule gets hectic. So skip the gym at first, and add exercise to your regular day. Why not try incorporating a small series of increased physical activity into your daily routine. Instead of circling for 20 minutes at the mall to get the perfect space just outside the door, park in the farthest space, then briskly walk to the door and around the mall before you shop. Walk up those 5 flights of stairs at work while carrying your heavy briefcase! Get vigorous when you are raking leaves or vacuuming. Studies have found short bouts of increased physical activity throughout the day have a positive cumulative effect on your body. Your newfound energy may motivate you to start up those gym workouts too!

 

Try to get more sleep – do you remember what that is? Not too may people get those prescribed 8 hours of shuteye. Not only does not enough sleep add stress to your life, research show its can add pounds too. However, don’t worry; a recent study found that napping for short periods even without going into REM or dream-state sleep can achieve a phase of sleep called slow-wave sleep. This phase can keep brains working and solving problems. Sneak in some zzz’s and take a nap, sleep in once in a while, and don’t feel guilty!

 

Make yourself happy and spend more time smiling and laughing. Studies find optimistic people are healthier. Concentrating on positive emotions has been found to have positive effects on our health. Negative emotions, like hostility and resentment, cause increases in heart rate and blood pressure and contribute to heart disease. Be a Pollyanna, chill out and let the other driver pass you!

Blog written by Leigh Vinocur, MD FACEP
Dr. Leigh Vinocur is a board certified emergency physician and national spokesperson for the American College of Emergency...