2018 is finally here! The New Year is all about a fresh start and is a natural a time to set new goals for yourself. Every year millions of people around the world set out on their New Year’s Resolution only to fall short just a few short weeks in. Jordan Prendergast, D.O., with Lexington Clinic has some tips to help you start and stay healthy in 2018 and how to stick to those resolutions for the whole year!
1. Make your health a priority. If you don’t have a family physician get one. If you do have a family physician, but you haven’t seen him/her for a while, schedule a physical. This is your opportunity to talk about your general health, risks and changes. Your family physician can be a great, non-judgmental motivator!
2. If you smoke, or use tobacco products, stop. Smoking causes 85 to 90 percent of all lung cancers in the U.S. and Kentucky is No. 1 in the nation for lung cancer incidents. Smoking is also linked to heart disease, stroke, vascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and a host of other life-threatening illnesses.
3. Eat healthier. Avoid fast foods, fried foods and processed lunchmeats as much as possible and if you do eat these types of food try to do so in moderation. Enjoy healthy, nutrient-dense alternatives like fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains.
4. Exercise. You don’t have to turn into a marathoner; 30 minutes of physical activity five days per week is all it takes. When you get stronger… do more.
5. Get some sleep! Most adults need between seven and eight hours every night. Sleep deprivation exacerbates existing health problems, weakens the immune system and leads to higher rates of accidental death/injury.
6. Get immunized. Get your flu shot every year (if you have not had this year’s yet, it’s not too late). Talk with your physician about other immunizations you may need, including shingles, pneumonia and Hepatitis B.
7. Laugh. Laughter can reduce your stress, lighten your mood and improve the functioning of your immune system.
8. Socialize. Human beings thrive when we are connected to others. Make it a point to spend time with friends and family. Make new friends. Volunteer to help others.
9. Practice optimism. Optimistic people live longer, experience less depression and have stronger immune systems and better cardiovascular health. They’re also more fun to be around!
10. Understand your risk for disease. There are hereditary components to many diseases, so take the time to find out whether certain types of cancer run in your family or if your grandfather or uncles died of heart disease at an early age. Knowing can help you understand your risk and take steps to reduce it.
11. Practice mindfulness. All too often we spend our time with our heads down staring at a screen, our lives literally passing us by. Put the smart phone in your pocket and the iPad on the table and engage with the world and the people in it.
12. Use sunscreen. Skin cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer in the U.S. Wear a hat and long sleeves when spending extended time out in the sun. Apply sunscreen liberally and keep applying it. There is no such thing as a “healthy tan.”
13. Take care of your teeth and gums. Brushing and flossing can help keep the bacteria that live in your mouth under control. Reducing your risk of catching a cold, developing respiratory problems and even heart disease. You need strong healthy teeth to enjoy a health diet.
14. Watch out for your eyes. Have your eyes checked regularly and your glasses changed as needed. Not only will you see better, but eye specialists can see physical changes in the eyes that may mean serious illness, such as diabetes or a brain tumor.
15. Do you hear as well as you should? Many people neglect their hearing out of vanity or pride. But difficulty hearing can lead to social isolation and family misunderstandings. Plus, those with uncorrected hearing loss are at increased risk for dementia.
Many of these tips would fall into the category of a New Year’s resolution and while that may sound like a great goal, it doesn’t do much good if you have given up by February. Part of the key to keeping your New Year’s resolution is motivation. “Make sure your goal is something you’re really passionate about,” says Dr. Prendergast. “You are much more likely to keep pursuing your goal if it is something that you really want to do.”
Experts also suggest breaking your large goal up into smaller, more attainable goals along the way. Dr. Prendergast says, “If you are trying to lose 20 pounds for the year, try to set a goal of losing five pounds in a couple of months. After you hit that small goal set another small goal. Achieving small successes along the way will help keep you motivated all year long!”
Finally, don’t try to do it all on your own! “Having a resolution partner is the absolute best way to be successful.” Dr. Prendergast notes that not only is your resolution partner able to physically help with your goals but it also able to provide emotional support. “Resolutions can be an emotional rollercoaster. A resolution partner is there to celebrate your successes, but is also able to talk through any disappointments or setbacks and then move on to keep fighting for your goal!”
Jordan M. Prendergast, D.O., is a board-certified family physician with Lexington Clinic Veterans Park, 630 Southpoint Drive, Lexington, KY. Dr. Prendergast and the other providers at Lexington Clinic Veterans Park are accepting new patients. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call (859) 272-1928.