Wanting to be healthier is the classic New Year’s resolution. Whether that means better diet, exercise, or both, it can be a difficult goal to accomplish and one that takes lifelong maintenance. Here is a guide to help you become healthier and stay healthier in 2019.
Maintain good habits & lose the rest
The first step to making lifestyle changes is taking inventory of your current habits. Do not look at your life as if it needs a total overhaul. We all have both good and bad habits, and the good ones are worth keeping.
“The first step to changing your behavior is to create an awareness around what you do regularly,” explains Dr. Lisa Marsch, an expert in behavior change at Dartmouth College. “Look for patterns in your behavior and what triggers the unhealthy habits you want to change.”
If you eat a healthy breakfast and lunch every day but order greasy take-out regularly for dinner, then focus only on what changes you need to make. Write down your habits and your goals so that you can track your progress.
Make the healthy choice the easy choice
Any time you make big changes in your life, you are going to encounter obstacles. Setbacks are frustrating and can sometimes make you want to give up on you goals. Set yourself up for success by making the healthy choice the easy choice.
If you buy a cheeseburger for lunch at your work cafeteria, then instead bring lunch from home. If you are trying to drink less, but you meet friends for a beer after work every Friday, then sign up for yoga at the same time. You can even have a friend join you.
Be patient & keep the big picture in mind
When you focus on the small picture, it can be very difficult to successfully change your habits. The small picture is that it is uncomfortable and unfamiliar, and you are keeping yourself away from what you want right now. The big picture is that a short time of discomfort will lead to big health rewards. Be patient with yourself and expect setbacks. These are part of the process.
Here is an example. You are trying to quit smoking, and you get a craving. Small-picture thinking would focus on the craving as an instant easement. If instead, you focus on the big picture, then you can see that a lifetime of health benefits is definitely worth a few minutes of discomfort.
It is important to track your mistakes and low periods as well as the times you are doing well. This will allow you to see that when you made mistakes, you overcame them and continued your progress.
Healthy living maintenance
A healthy lifestyle takes maintenance. It is good to get a yearly wellness check from a primary care doctor. Although you may remember wellness checkups from childhood, it might have been several years since you have visited a doctor as an adult. These checkups are important for both children and adults.
At your checkup, your primary care doctor will check for any health problems by tracking your vitals, screening for certain conditions, and assessing your risk factors. They will also discuss preventative care with you, which is part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. You can use this one-on-one time to ask your doctor any health questions you may have or discuss health concerns.
Four tips to eating healthier
1. Eliminate junk food
Try to identify situations in which you are most likely to eat junk food. You can either avoid those situations, or come up with a plan for when you encounter them. If you usually order nachos when you meet friends for drinks, then plan to order a salad instead.
2. Only eat when you are hungry
It is easy to go with your routine. Just because it is dinner time, however, does not mean your body is hungry. Only eat when you are hungry, and stop eating once you feel satisfied. To help, concentrate on eating slowly and taking notice of the signals your body sends.
3. Tweak your favorite recipes to be healthier
You do not need to forget all your favorite foods just because you are trying out a new diet. Instead, take the opportunity to make your favorite recipes healthier. You can do so by making simple tweaks like swapping butter for olive oil. Or add fresh vegetables like leafy greens to enhance a recipe.
4. Meal plan
Choose one or two times a week when you go to the grocery store, and buy food for meals you have already planned out. This way you will have healthy ingredients in the house, and you will already know what to do with them. Many people also find success in making healthy meals when they have time and freezing them to use on those stressful weeknights where no one could be bothered to cook.
For more information
If you want a healthier life, then do not give up on it. Contact KentuckyCare today at (866) 810-7602 for more information about living a healthy lifestyle or getting a wellness visit.