How to Have a Healthier New Year
In this Fox 8 House Call series, Cone Health experts explore how to have a healthier new year, including:
New Spin on New Year's Resolutions
While many New Year’s resolutions often involve weight loss, there are other ways to put a fresh spin on health-related goals. The first involves practicing self-care and defining what wellness looks like in your life. One strategy for working on your well-being is to focus on a central theme. This theme can serve as an anchor for all aspects of your physical, mental, social, spiritual or financial life.
Have a specific plan in place for meeting your goals so you don’t set yourself up for failure. By starting with a theme, you can set small, attainable goals anchored in that theme. If your theme is “peace” and you want to save more money to experience more financial peace, ask yourself the following questions to help you get there:
- What does financial peace look like?
- How much will you save to experience this?
- How will you save/what’s your action plan?
By answering these questions before you begin your resolution, you can plan for success.
Set boundaries. No one can define self-care for you, so set a goal of what this looks like for you. That means saying no to some things so you can recharge and keep your goals in front. Do something for yourself each day that aligns in what you are anchored in - whether that is taking a walk, reading a book or watching a favorite TV show.
Sannyu Harris, LPC, is a licensed professional counselor with Cone Health’s Employee Assistance Counseling Program. She completed her undergraduate degree at Bennett College, has a master’s degree from North Carolina A&T State University and is doctoral candidate at Regent University.
Healthy Lifestyle Changes for a Healthier You
If one of your resolutions this year involves weight loss or exercise, some of the most common resolutions every year, it’s important to make an appointment for a physical with your primary care physician first. This appointment will help establish a baseline of health and create an exercise plan that is appropriate for you. For most adults, providers recommend 150 minutes of moderate activity every week, but it’s important to work up to that amount. When it comes to exercise, every little bit counts. It can be helpful to incorporate exercise into your everyday life, say, by taking the stairs or parking at the back of the parking lot so you’ll walk more. Once exercise becomes a habit, it’ll be easier to incorporate more and more of it into your life.
Primary care providers play a critical role in preventive care by making sure you get the right screenings when you need them. If a primary care provider knows your family history, they can also watch for illnesses that you are at risk for and monitor your risk factors. Primary care providers can also act as an advocate for their patients, especially when it comes to their health goals. If someone’s New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, your physician can help you consider different factors that may be affecting your weight and offer encouragement during follow-up appointments throughout the year.
Regular dental hygiene appointments are also a key part of overall well-being that are often overlooked. Whether you have a regular dentist or you visit local dental schools when you can, your dentist can be a great partner in your health. While cleaning your teeth, your dentist will also look for anything that could be an indication of other issues, including oral cancer. For example, they may notice that your mouth has been unusually dry, a possible sign of diabetes. If they find anything, they’ll refer you to your primary care physician for screening.
Zoe Stallings, MD, is a family medicine physician with Primary Care at Pomona and a member of Cone Health Medical Group. Stallings received a bachelor’s degree in biosciences from the University of Chicago. She attended medical school at the Loyola Stritch School of Medicine and completed her family medicine residency at West Suburban Medical Center in Illinois.
A New Look at Wellness
The most common New Year’s resolutions focus on wellness, weight loss and exercise. Both healthy eating and exercise are important aspects of a healthy lifestyle, and adopting these habits can make long term impacts on your health. Healthy nutrition and exercise routines can help individuals reduce blood pressure, stress, control diabetes and even reduce the need for some medications. The hardest part of an exercise and nutrition plan is getting started and creating the habit. If you aren’t sure where to start, talk to your health care provider for guidance.
It is recommended that each person practice a combination of cardiovascular exercise and strength training. Cardiovascular, or aerobic, exercises like running, biking, swimming and most team sports get the heart pumping and help strengthen it. Strength training exercises help build muscle that will support your joints, which can help prevent injury in the long run. Strength training exercises may include lifting weights, but they can also be done without them. The most important thing is that you find something you like to do and make it a habit.
Dr. Gosrani uses two different screening methods to measure how physically fit a patient is and then creates goals to help them improve. He starts with a body composition scan, measures body fat, muscle mass and total body water just by stepping on a special scale. Like the body mass index (BMI), this test is meant to see if you are in a healthy weight range, but in a more detailed way. The BMI doesn’t measure the difference between body fat and muscle mass, which can lead more muscular people to have a BMI that indicates obesity. The second test, the VO2 max test, measures physical fitness by looking at oxygen intake and CO2 expression. This test can take 8 to 12 minutes and involves the patient riding a stationary bike with increasing resistance while monitored.
Based on the results of these 2 tests, a plan is designed to help patients reach their wellness goals. Each plan focuses on regular exercise and healthy eating that suit the needs of the patient. Over time, the team will reassess each patient to record their progress. Don’t wait for the new year to start making healthy choices, get started today and discover a new, healthier you.
Nimish Gosrani, MD, is an internal medicine specialist with Gosrani Optimal Health and a member of Cone Health Medical Group. He completed medical school at the Medical College of St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, University of London, UK in 1988. Gosrani completed his internal medicine residency in 1996 at Franklin Square Hospital Center, Baltimore, MD. He is board certified in internal medicine and in hospice and palliative medicine.