The start of the New Yearis often a time of reflection and great optimism; reflection on the past year and what we hoped to achieve, and optimism for the new possibilities the year holds. Perhaps you have already committed to a New Year resolution, which is a good starting point, but resolutions tend to be all or nothing, black or white. That's why only eight percent of people who make a New Year resolution actually keep it.
Instead of making resolutions this year, how about setting some SMART goals and committing to them. Health goals are always great goals to have, because your health matters.To start, define what “getting healthy” means to you. Do you have the stamina to do the activities you enjoy with family and friends? Are you satisfied that you feel good about how you present yourself to others? Do you need more sleep? Did your doctor make health recommendations for you? Many times we know health and wellness areas that we can improve.
This year, I implore you to strive to build habits that help you to gain on your health all-year round. Here is a list of health goalsthat you can adopt this year:
- Manage Weight
Overweight and obesity are associated with heart diseases, certain types of cancer, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, arthritis, breathing problems, and psychological disorders such as depression.There is great benefit in maintaining a healthy weight beyond just the good looks.Make it a goal to honestly and accurately assess your weight to determine just how many kilogrammes you need to lose, and set goals for losing the excess weight.It has been said that 80% of weight loss is the food we eat, so change what’s on your plate. Diets do not work! Losing weight and keeping it off for long requires you to make actual lifestyle changes.Develop good eating habits and make physical activity a part of your life.Eat nutrient-rich food. Use healthy oils such as olive or coconut oil. Reduce carbohydrate intake. Resist junk food, and do not eat late, at least not within three hours of your bedtime.
- Get Moving - Be Physically Active
The benefits of regular physical activities are practically endless. Physical activity can help prevent diseases, build self-esteem,increase energy and serve as a great method for stress management. Exercise doesn’t have to be repetitious, painful or unenjoyable. Find an exercise activity that is right for you. This is important, as many intentions to exercise are often broken because of poor activity choices. Set a goal this year to enroll in a gym; walk at least 30 minutes a day; use the stairs more; complete a five-kilometre run; run a marathon, etc. Whatever your goal is, let it be affordable, focus on exercise technique versus effort, start slow, take your time and stick to it.
- Manage Stress
You certainly can’t eliminate every stress from your life, but you can effectively manage stress with proven techniques and skills.One way of managing stress is to adjust your attitude:recognise what you can’t change; set realistic expectations; replace negative thoughts with positive ones; think about the big picture.Exercise is probably the simplest, most popular stress-reliever and anti-depressant available, so exercise more this year!
- Sleep More
Adequate sleep improves health, productivity, wellness, quality of life, and safety on roads and in the workplace. Sufficient sleep is necessary to fight off infection, support the metabolism of sugar to prevent diabetes and increase energy levels.Lack of sufficient sleep leads to weight gain, because the less you sleep, the more likely it is that you will crave and consume high-calorie, high-fat foods. Aim forseven to nine hours of sleep every night!Make sleep hygiene a priority; once we lock this in, many other healthy habits will fall into place.
- Drink More Water
One of my most important health goals this year is to simply drink more water. It is the most practical and frugal step we can take this year to better health.
- Just Laugh
One of the most transformative things you can do for your health this year is to laugh more! Seriously, laughter is good medicine. The more happy and at ease you are, the more able you are to transform. Find fun ways to engage your senses, watch silly movies with family or friends, play games and see new things! Emotional health is often left unaddressed when one is aiming to achieve new health goals, but the happier you are, the more willing you’ll be to practise self-care and make good choices. So have fun, whatever you do.
Whatever health goals you choose, commit to it, be consistentand make it a family affair. Recruiting a family member or partner for support and encouragement boosts commitment. Progress is a win!
What three health goals will you commit to this year?
Until next time, I leave you with some of my favorite health quotes.
Have a Happy and healthy 2017.
Dr. Ramat Lawal-Unuigbe