Julie Whittington, RD

Healthy tips from a Registered Dietitian

Set great New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year!  Yes, of course, now is the time to set New Year’s resolutions.  If you think about it, most individuals set at least some of their resolutions around health.

So, if health is so important that it consistently ranks as a top New Year’s resolution, perhaps we should all take more time to set achievable goals to improve how we take care of ourselves.

There is probably room for improvement for most of us.  Perhaps a good place to start is to consider whether you met your health resolutions for 2010.  If you did, you should congratulate yourself.  It may even make this year’s resolutions seem more achievable.  If you had trouble meeting your resolutions for 2010, perhaps your expectations were too high.  This could present an opportunity for improving how you set your own goals.  Either way, encourage yourself to set health goals for 2011.

If you are unsure where to start with your goals, consider the basics, first.  It will help prevent you from becoming overwhelmed at the whole picture.

Things like scheduling preventative or follow-up appointments with your physician or specialists are at the top of the to-do list, when it comes to your health. If you have trouble following the recommendations of your health professionals, consider setting goals to change your behaviors.  Psychotherapists are excellent resources to help you with behavior change techniques.

Next, consider how you nourish your body.  Do you skip meals?  Do you overeat or undereat?  If you struggle with illness that can be better managed by good nutrition (hence, almost every illness), do you feel you are doing your best with fueling your body and strengthening your chances of recovery?  If yes, set goals on continuing your efforts.  If no, consider having a dietitian help you set achievable goals.

What about movement? Do you move enough?  Many individuals struggle with motivation to exercise.  Know there are trainers and coaches out there who can help motivate you.  Some resources exist online and others exist in a close friend or spouse.  Consider your location and finances when setting your exercise resolutions.  There are plenty of no-cost options to increase daily movement.  The key is monitoring.  Either monitor yourself or have someone else monitor you.  That goes for all your resolutions, too.

Also consider your emotional health.  Emotional health is significantly impacted by physical health.  That means food and exercise play key roles in mental health.  And, since emotional health can impact our motivation to change our behaviors, we can all benefit from ensuring our emotional well-being stays as balanced as possible.  In addition to healthy physical activity (including things like yoga) and balanced nutrition, consider psychotherapy, meditation, deep breathing and journaling to help center yourself and keep you grounded.  Laughing is an often over-looked form of self-soothing, too.

So, all in all, as you set your New Year’s resolutions, take a look at all the pieces of your health.  Praise yourself for what you are doing well.  Seek opportunities for change in the other things – they represent the missing puzzle pieces to a healthier you.  And what better time to make good changes – the beginning of a new year.

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