The New Year is almost here. Now is a good time to concentrate your efforts on becoming a new, healthier you in the coming year. It’s a perfect opportunity to reflect on the past year.
Did you make any lasting changes or take steps to become the healthiest person possible? Are there some specific changes you would like to make in the coming year? Have you made well-intentioned resolutions to lose weight, eat healthy and exercise regularly in the past?
If you’ve run into roadblocks in the past, here are some tips to help keep on track throughout the entire year.
First, take steps to adopt a healthy, well balanced diet. Learn to manage (and accommodate) any food cravings. Completely eliminating your favorite foods can be a recipe for disaster. Instead, allow yourself small portions, but only on occasion.
A registered dietitian can work with you to design a long-term, realistic eating plan that will meet all of your dietary requirements and help you lose weight safely and effectively. Everyone knows that fad diets simply don’t work.
You can begin by making small, incremental changes over time. Begin by opting for the stairs instead of the elevator, substituting a piece of fruit for a piece of candy.
It’s important to find some new ways to incorporate more physical activity into your everyday life.
Go for a walk with the dog or take a hike with a friend. Any type of physical activity counts.
Get moving with at least 30 minutes a day of activity to maintain health (even longer to promote weight loss). Consult with your health care provider before embarking on a strenuous exercise program, especially if you’re over 40.
Don’t let cold weather sidetrack your exercise routine. If you prefer to exercise indoors, you can still walk around the mall, join a health club, swim at an indoor pool or exercise at home using videos or a set of dumbbells, an exercise ball and a jump rope.
If you decide to brave the outside elements to exercise, be sure to:
¦ Start slow and warm up first. Cold temperatures can make your muscles tight and more prone to injuries.
¦ For some people, cold air can trigger chest pain or asthma attacks. If you have any medical conditions or concerns about exercising outdoors, please check with your health care provider.
¦ Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. Drink before, during and after your workout — even if you’re not thirsty. Cold air has a drying effect and increases the risk of dehydration that can increase the risk of frostbite.
¦ Beware of slippery surfaces and choose appropriate footwear with enough traction to prevent falls outside.
In addition to improving your overall fitness, exercising during the winter months can help shake those winter blues. Exercise improves mood, increases your energy level and helps you sleep better. And you’ll be in better shape when the weather finally warms up in spring.
The coming year can be a year filled with positive lifestyle changes — if you stay committed to your plan. It’s important to set reasonable goals and stay focused throughout the year.
By this time next year you’ll feel good about what you’ve accomplished on your life journey to become a healthier version of you.
Dr. Shobha Ramaiah is an internal medicine physician at Aurora Bay Area Health Center, 4061 Old Peshtigo Road in Marinette. Her office can be reached at 715-732-8100.