The new year brings about people’s collective resolutions, aiming to improve an aspect of their individual life.
One of the most popular resolutions is health.
Countless people have resolved to better themselves and their overall general health through increased exercise, more conscious food choices and the avoidance of some bad habits.
Emily Smith, DO, primary care physician at McLaren Greater Lansing, says that, while you are setting goals and cementing your commitment to them, set yourself up for lasting success by considering these five questions, and discussing them with your doctor.
What is the current state of your health?
“At your annual physical exam, we will review your medical history, check your vitals, and may often request blood tests to look at your overall health, including cholesterol, sugar levels and blood count,” said Dr. Smith.
Knowing your vital stats (such as blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol, body mass index, etc.) is a great way to establish a baseline. This will allow you to create specific goals and track your progress.
McLaren Greater Lansing also offers the ability to securely connect your health records to some third-party websites, health management apps, and diet/fitness trackers. This feature provides access to your health and wellness data that will enable you and your care team to make informed choices.
What would you like to do?
Do you want to lose weight or body fat? Improve your diet? A person’s general health is a vague subject. Increase your chances for success by clearly defining what you’d like to improve upon.
What is your plan forachieving this goal?
Will you start exercising more or adjust your diet? Choose a path that best fits your routine and personality to create healthy habits that will set up lasting success.
“A great option is to work with a buddy to help achieve your goal and stay on track,” said Dr. Smith. “Find someone that has similar goals or someone who can keep you encouraged and accountable.”
Are your expectations realistic?
It’s easy to say you’ll run 10 miles a day, but will you stick to it day in and day out? Is it even possible to lose 30 pounds in 30 days? Unrealistic expectations will ultimately lead to discouragement, prompting the abandonment of goals and any resolve to achieve them. Consult your doctor to set realistic expectations and reasonable timelines.
“Give yourself grace periods. They will happen,” said Dr. Smith. “The important part is that you keep going. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and habits take months, not days, to create.”
What is your motivation?
The steps taken to improve your general health are positive life changes, but what is your true motivation? Are you doing this for your family? To feel physically better? To feel mentally better? Know why you’re striving after these goals, and remind yourself of it often.
“The new year is a great time to start a health goal. However, any day is a great day to start living a healthy lifestyle, so don’t sweat the small stuff when thinking of when to best start a healthy habit,” said Dr. Smith.