By Amy Crawford-Faucher, M.D.
Good health happens when the physical, emotional and social
or environmental parts of our lives are in balance. The New Year gives us a
built-in reality check to see how those components are working for us, and if
not, some guidance for what to work toward. As a family physician, I work with patients of all ages and life stages. An important part
of my job is cheerleading healthy lifestyle changes with my patients when they
are ready to commit. What I have learned is that small, specific resolutions
and goals are more likely to be successful.
If your physical
health is not optimal, resolve to ADD something, not subtract (in the way
many think of typical diets for weight loss):
- Resolve to ADD a serving of vegetables to your
lunch and dinner each day. Resolve to ADD 2 non-caffeinated, non-sugared drinks
- Resolve to go OUTSIDE part of every day. If you
work in an office setting, stepping out (even in cold winter weather) clears
your head and can inspire you to be more active.
- Resolve to take the stairs instead of the
elevator at least once per day.
- If you are home with children, resolve to turn
off the TV or computer and get everyone moving – play outside or have an
impromptu dance party.
Stress saps physical
and emotional energy. When my patients report stress we try to identify
which stressors can be changed:
- Resolve to cut back on an extra activity that
adds more hassle than benefit.
- Resolve to learn a new job skill that could lead
to a more satisfying position. Some stressful situations cannot be changed in
the short term, in which case the only solution is to change your reaction to
- Many of our responses to annoying situations or
people become reflexive and negative. Resolve to identify your automatic reactions and
replace them with more positive ones.
- Resolve to sit and stand up straight which can
give you more energy.
- Resolve to stretch your neck and shoulders
several times a day – many people carry physical tension in their shoulders
which can lead to fatiguing back pain and headaches.
- Add recorded books or relaxing music to your
daily commute and resolve to NOT react angrily to other drivers.
- Resolve to find and be thankful for a moment of
peace in every day. For me, it is appreciating natural beauty: the dazzle
of sun shining through ice-covered branches, or flowers growing on
an old bridge.
Finally, resolve to
contribute in some way to your community. Helping others improves your own
health and wellbeing, and can take the form of formal volunteering or simply
offering to visit or help a neighbor.
When people resolve to “lose weight” they are actually
saying “I want to feel and look better.” These specific and holistic
resolutions can help move people toward a healthier life.
Crawford-Faucher is a family physician at UPMC. An excerpt of this blog post
appeared on CNN Health.
Labels: Amy Crawford-Faucher, family medicine, healthy eating, weight