Health News
Health News
January 11, 2019
Healthy 2019: Start the New Year Off Right!

Happy New Year!

Privia Medical Group North Texas wishes you a successful, healthy 2019 and we’re here to get your year off to a good start.  Whether you are making some New Year’s resolutions, or just want to make sure you’re staying on top of your health, we’ve got some tips to help get you on your way. 

Resolutions

Many people make a New Year’s resolution or two – a promise to ourselves to accomplish a new goal or change a behavior.  According to a November 2017 survey by YouGov, a national research company, two of the three most common 2018 resolutions had to do with health and fitness. The survey found “eat healthier” and “get more exercise” were the most popular resolutions, along with “save more money.”

Alas, most of us who make resolutions end up abandoning them at some point.  Maybe we’ll make it a few weeks on our new fitness routine or even a few months on our mission to eat healthier.  Then, something inevitably happens and we find ourselves back in the same place we were last year.  So why is it so hard to follow through on the resolutions we swore to ourselves were so important?

Be Realistic

“Many times, we simply set unrealistic goals for ourselves with routines or habits that are difficult to keep up,” explains Dr. James Parker, an internal medicine physician. “For any goal to be attainable, it first needs to be realistic.”

For example, if you are trying to eat healthier in 2019, you can set and achieve this goal without completely depriving yourself of the foods you crave.  “If you’ve got a sweet tooth, it’s probably unrealistic to promise yourself that you will forgo all desserts in 2019,” says Dr. John Briscoe, an internal medicine and primary care physician.  “Instead, limit yourself to one or two sweet foods per week.  Moderation is more likely to lead to long-term success than straight-out deprivation, which tends to be abandoned after a short period of time.”

The same realistic approach is needed when considering fitness goals.  “If you haven’t been physically active in a while, don’t make your resolution to suddenly start running three miles every day,” says Dr. Curtis Evans, an internal medicine and primary care physician.  “Not only is that unrealistic; it can also be dangerous to exert your body after a period of inactivity.   Approach your fitness goals methodically, with a gradual increase in the level of activity you undertake.”

“For aerobic exercise, which is important for heart health, start with a brisk walk and then work your way up to a light, short jog after you have been exercising for a few weeks,” advises Dr. Dan Kutzler, an internal medicine and primary care physician. “For strength training exercises that help your bones and muscles, start off with some light weights, work with resistance bands or just do some pushups and sit-ups starting out.  Don’t overdo it – work your way up to heavier weights and more strenuous workouts as your body adapts to exercise.”    

Get Specific

“One of the most common problems with New Year’s resolutions is that they are vague,” explains Dr.  Triwanna Fisher-Wikoff, a family practice and primary care physician.  “Precision and specificity in setting your goals are essential to making them attainable – and being able to measure whether or not you are meeting them.”

Here are some examples of vague health resolutions:

“I’m going to eat healthier.”

“I’m going to lose weight.”

“I’m going to exercise more.”

With a little thought and planning, you can turn these vague – and easily-broken – resolutions into specific, goal-oriented measures that will help you be successful:

“I’m going to eat healthier” becomes:

  • I will cook at home at least five nights a week and limit eating out to two nights a week.
  • I will limit desserts to one or two a week.
  • I will only order pizza or drive through a fast food restaurant once or twice a month.
  • In lieu of red meat, I will eat chicken or fish at least five times a week.
  • I will eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

“I’m going to lose weight” becomes:

  • I will lose five pounds by March.
  • I will drop one size in my clothing by May.

“I’m going to exercise more” becomes:

  • I will exercise at least five days a week, 30 minutes per day.
  • I will walk three miles each day.
  • I will do strength-training exercises twice a week.
  • I’ll take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • I’ll park a greater distance from the entrance at work, in order to walk more.

Obviously, you can change up the specifics of these resolutions and pick and choose the ones that make the most sense for you.  But you get the idea – being detailed and specific about your resolutions makes it possible to measure if you are meeting your goals. 

If you commit yourself to these types of specific objectives, your overall resolutions of eating better, exercising more, losing weight and living healthier will be achieved. 

Resolutions to Help Your Resolutions

When thinking about resolutions related to your health, most of us think about diet and exercise.  While those areas of focus are important, your health resolutions don’t need to be this limited. 

“There are other health objectives we should try to meet, and they’re not that hard to do,” explains Dr. Mark Bernhard, a family practice and primary care physician.  “For example, many of us don’t drink enough water throughout the course of the day.  Setting a resolution to drink at least 64 ounces of water a day (eight, 8-ounce glasses) will improve your health – you’ll be better hydrated, have better control of your appetite and be healthier overall.”

Another important health area many of us could improve on is getting enough sleep.  All adults should get between seven and eight hours of sleep a night.  Just like water, adequate sleep is essential to overall health.  Sleep helps protect the heart and vascular system and keeps the mind sharp.  It also helps regulate appetite; the more tired we are, the more likely we are to overeat. 

“Set yourself up to get a good night’s sleep each night, which will aid your overall health and help accomplish your diet and exercise goals,” suggests Dr. Lynne Tilkin, a family practice and primary care physician.  “A good resolution would be to go to bed and wake up at the same times each day and refrain from looking at a phone or other device once in bed.  These are habits that promote good sleep, which is an important part of good health.” 

Finally, make a promise to yourself to beat back stress by making time for you.  “We all face stress, no matter what we do for a living or how old we are,” explains Dr. Dorris Morrissette, an internal medicine and primary care physician.  “Effectively managing stress is one of the most important things we can do for our mental and physical health.  So, make time for yourself to relax and unwind: set aside time to read a book or watch a movie each week, or whatever you find to be relaxing.  Zapping stress is a major part of staying healthy and feeling good, not to mention it helps us resist the urge to return to bad habits, like eating junk food.” 

Make an Appointment

Has it been a while since you’ve seen your health care provider?  If so, make your first resolution to start 2019 off on the right foot and make an appointment today.  If you’re already a Privia Medical Group North Texas patient, visit our Patient Portal to schedule an appointment.  If you’re looking for a new medical home, check out our physician directory, which includes more than 200 physicians with locations across North Texas. 

“It’s important to see your health care provider on an annual basis,” says Dr. James Harvey, a family practice and primary care physician.  “In addition to getting an overall checkup, your provider will let you know if you are due for any important screenings, such as a cholesterol check or a mammogram.  We can also help you with those New Year’s resolutions – we want you to be successful in 2019 and beyond!”