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By Logan R. Washburn, MA, ACSM HFS
UNC Wellness Center, Fitness Director
The start of a new year has always been a time for looking back to the past, and more importantly, forward to the coming year. It’s a time to reflect on the changes we want (or need) to make and resolve to follow through on those changes. The best way to stick with a resolution is to set SMART goals. A SMART goal is something that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Click HERE for a great explanation of SMART goals. Here are a few ideas that might help you on your journey to become a healthier, fitter, happier person in 2010!
1) Lose Weight
Over 66 percent of adult Americans are considered overweight or obese, so it is not surprising to find that weight loss is one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions. Setting reasonable goals and staying focused are the two most important factors in sticking with a weight loss program, but each person has their own key to success to shed extra pounds (look at the SMART goals above to really help you with this one!). Do not think that the “reality shows” are reality…research shows that if you lose weight slowly (1-2 pounds per week or less), by exercising and eating healthily, you have a much better chance to keep the weight off and make it a permanent change. Click HERE for some helpful weight-loss tips.
2) Fit in Fitness
The evidence is in for fitness. Regular exercise has been associated with more health benefits than anything else known to man. Studies show that it reduces the risk of some cancers, increases longevity, helps achieve and maintain weight loss, enhances mood, lowers blood pressure, and even improves arthritis. In short, exercise keeps you healthy and makes you look and feel better. Click HERE for a great video on fitness resolutions. If you need some external motivation, ask a friend to exercise with you or talk to a fitness professional to help you get started safely.
3) Eat Healthier
Embarking on a healthy eating plan for the New Year is a common goal, but people often have unrealistic expectations about how quickly they want to lose weight and improve chronic conditions such as high cholesterol. Many are looking for "an instant fix" or "the magic bullet" that allows them to continue their regular habits, but the truth is that anything worthwhile takes a lot of effort. Start with small steps, like adding a fruit and a vegetable at dinner, eating a healthy breakfast, cutting down to one soda a day, or keeping snacks to 150 calories or less two times a day. Having a dietary plan is important to establishing good eating habits, just like financial planning is for saving money. In addition, eating at home gives you more control and ability to follow your healthy eating plan, and those who cook their own meals at home can control portions, as well as the amount of fat, salt and sugar in their food. If you need help sticking to your nutritional goals, schedule an appointment with a dietician. Two local dieticians are Liz Watt, RD, and Judy Hinderliter, RD, LDN, from the UNC Wellness Center at Meadowmont in Chapel Hill (ph: 919-966-5500).
4) Quit Smoking or Drinking
If you have resolved to make this the year that you stamp out your smoking habit, over-the-counter availability of nicotine replacement therapy now provides easier access to proven quit-smoking aids. Even if you’ve tried to quit before and failed, don’t let it get you down-most are not equipped to make such a drastic lifestyle change all at once. On average, smokers try about four times before they quit for good. Start enjoying the rest of your smoke-free life! Call the North Carolina Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or go to http://www.quitlinenc.com/ and register for free counseling. The NC Quitline will provide you with some coaching sessions, help you develop a plan to quit, provide you with reading materials, and be available for counseling.
In addition, many people decide to use this time of year to cut back or quit drinking alcohol. Many heavy drinkers fail to quit cold turkey but do much better when they taper gradually, or even learn to moderate their drinking. If you have decided that you want to stop or cut back drinking, there is a world of help and support available. For a local resource, try to contact the UNC Health Care's Alcohol and Substance Abuse Program at this website: http://www.med.unc.edu/alcohol/asap.html.
5) Stress Less
Given the hectic, stressful lifestyles of millions of Americans, it is no wonder that “enjoying life more” has become a popular resolution in recent years. It’s an important step to a happier and healthier you! Click HERE for online quizzes regarding stress management. These self-assessment and personality tests are designed to give feedback on aspects of your character. The quizzes might be fun to take, but also may help you to understand your behaviors and lifestyle so you can begin to reduce stress and enjoy life more!
For more information regarding health, fitness, wellness, and nutrition, please contact any of our UNC Wellness Center Staff members!
Logan R. Washburn, MA, ACSM HFS
The UNC Wellness Center at Meadowmont
100 Sprunt Street Chapel Hill, NC 27517
(919) 966-5500, (919) 843-3276 fax
*The thoughts and opinions of guest bloggers do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Newland Communities or Briar Chapel.