The New Year is a good time to make a fresh start at lifestyle changes, such as eating better, exercising more, or giving up smoking. Like any other goal you set, making a resolution that is (SMART) specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely — can help keep you focused and motivated. For example, instead of saying, “I want to lose weight,” you might say, “I want to lose 10 pounds in six months by eating fewer prepared foods and sweets and adding more servings of vegetables every day.” Or “I want to commit to exercising at the gym for one hour three times a week so that I have more energy to play with my kids.”
- Go public- Announce your resolution among family and friends and seek their support. Sometimes creating a resolution pact with a friend helps, even if you don’t have the same resolution, you can touch base with each other every few weeks to check progress and provide encouragement.
- Expect unexpected and be prepared- Even people who are ultimately successful in their resolutions make mistakes along the way. What separates those who succeed in their resolutions from those who break them is how well they recover from mistakes. To be successful, you need to view mistakes as momentary lapses instead of failures and then promptly refocus on your goals.
- Patience…my friend- Remember that change doesn’t happen overnight, so resist the temptation to push yourself too hard. Consider keeping a journal to chart your progress, and congratulate yourself on your steps forward and forgive yourself for any steps backward. Then, if you find yourself doubting your progress, review your journal to recommit to your resolution. Remember all that starts well will end well may be sooner or later…just keep trying.
- Prevention is better than cure- In addition to your “smart” resolution, routine physical exams and immunizations are important steps you should take to practice prevention. Measures like these can help you and your doctor identify potential health risks so that you can work together to prevent disease, illness, and injury. The screenings that are appropriate for you may depend on your age and gender. For example:
- The American Heart Association recommends blood pressure screenings every two years and cholesterol screenings every five years for adults beginning at age 20.
- The American Diabetes Association recommends that adults have their fasting blood glucose checked every three years, beginning at age 45, to determine their risk for diabetes.
- The American Cancer Society recommends annual mammograms for women starting at age 40 and colorectal cancer screenings, such as a colonoscopy, every 10 years for both men and women beginning at age 50. The organization also recommends that starting at age 50, men talk to their doctor about the pros and cons of prostate cancer screening, such as a PSA blood test, and whether it’s appropriate for them.
Keep in mind that you might need to be screened earlier or more frequently than these recommendations suggest, depending on individual risk factors such as your family history. Talk to your doctor to learn which screenings might be appropriate for you and when you should schedule them. Similarly, your family’s pediatrician can help you better understand preventive care services for your children.