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Making Good on Your New Year’s Resolution

Having a New Year’s resolution is always a good idea, but carrying through on it is even better. So here’s some advice and tips that can help you make progress toward healthy goals for the New Year.

Losing Weight

A perennial New Year’s resolution favorite, losing weight is always a challenge. However, lots of people do manage to slim down and get fitter in the New Year. Here’s some productive ways to make it happen.

Determine your BMI. A good first step is finding your Body Mass Index (BMI) to determine how overweight you are. That way, you’ll know how much weight you have to lose. Free BMI calculators are available online, including at www.cdc.gov/bmi

Stay away from fad diets. Joining Weight Watchers or other groups that have had proven success is much more likely to lead to long term weight loss. Fad diets are hard to stick to, and most people gain weight back quickly once they stop.

Avoid foods that make you fat. Reducing or eliminating soda, fruit juice, Gatorade, and other high calorie drinks can really help you take off some pounds. The same goes for fast food and alcohol, which are packed with calories.

Eat healthy each day. An important key to weight loss is simply eating healthy foods each day. So how do you eat healthier? At mealtime, try splitting your plate into fours. The right side should be equally split into grains and proteins; the entire left half should consist of fruits and vegetables. You can find some more information on healthy eating at the USDA’s website www.myplate.gov including tips, recipes, and daily food plans.

Quit Smoking

Smoking is not an easy habit to quit but any ex-smoker will tell you that it can be done successfully. With the enormous health benefits that it brings, giving up smoking is a great idea no matter what time of year it is. Here are some tips to make sure that 2023 is the last year you’ll use cigarettes.

Group counseling works. According to the U.S. Public Health Service, group counseling increases your chances of quitting smoking by approximately 30%. Individual counseling also works well. One of the keys to group counseling is that it helps people have an overall understanding of why they smoke and gives them the skills and support they need to stop.

Medication can help. Did you know that there are seven FDA-approved medications that can help you quit smoking? Talk to your doctor or other medical provider about how nicotine patches, gum, or a prescription medication can help.

Involve friends and family. Research has shown that a friend or family member of a smoker who quits is much more likely to quit smoking too. So always try to stop smoking with someone you know – it can really improve your chances.

Learn from your past experience. Chances are, you’ve tried to quit before. Most smokers don’t make it on the first try. Try to learn from your past experiences and do something different this time – whether joining a smoking cessation group, trying a nicotine patch or finding support online.

Reduce Stress

We all have to deal with some amount of stress in our lives but too much stress can increase or worsen many health problems including insomnia, obesity, heart disease and depression. Many things can heighten our stress levels including long work hours, too little sleep and poor diet. Here’s some ways you can help yourself relax and get stress down to a manageable level.

Watch what you consume. Beware of using too much caffeine and alcohol. Even in moderate amounts, caffeine can cause anxiety, increase feelings of nervousness and irritability, and even trigger panic attacks. It’s best to reduce your consumption of caffeine gradually, as doing it abruptly can cause withdrawal symptoms. Drinking excessively has also been known to induce symptoms of anxiety, which is why alcohol should never be used as a coping mechanism for stress.

Start Exercising. If you are stressed, it’s much more healthy to go for a walk than reach for a drink or a cigarette. Maintaining a regular exercise routine has been proven to reduce stress, improve mood, and even increase energy levels. When you exercise, the body releases chemicals called endorphins that interact with receptors in the brain to elevate your mood and even reduce physical pain. So always make exercise a regular part of your stress-reduction routine.

Get More Rest. Proper sleep is simply vital to your health. Studies have shown that losing just a few hours of sleep increases feelings of stress, anger, sadness and exhaustion. Disrupted sleep is also common in many emotional disorders. You can find more information on sleep (including tips on getting a good night’s rest) at www.cdc.gov/sleep

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