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Important steps to keeping your New Year's Resolution
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It’s is another new year and once again, many of my patients are telling me about their New Year’s resolutions. Making and starting resolutions can be easy, but achieving and maintaining them may sometimes present challenges. I offer some helpful tips on New Year’s resolutions.

What I know for sure is that making changes takes time, discipline and focus. Make small changes and gradually advance them. When it comes to diet, exercise, losing weight or quitting smoking, make one resolution instead of four different resolutions.

What I challenge you to do is to "Take care of your body so your body can take care of you."

What I also know for sure is that obesity has become a major health issue, as we are now seeing more obese people than ever before. Along with obesity comes diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease, painful joints and many other health problems. In addition, tobacco use continues to have a huge negative impact on our health, as cigarette smoking remains the number one cause of lung cancer and lung cancer still is amongst the leading cancers in the United States.

An important tip I offer is simply to start. It is essential to make a plan and stick to it. Start exercising, including some form of cardiovascular activity (walking, jogging, jumping rope, bicycling, etc.) at least three times weekly and low-weight training two to three times weekly. Make exercise a necessity, just like brushing your teeth. Find a convenient workout time and elicit your family and friends to support you. Maintain focus, keeping in mind that hard work
pays off.

It is also essential to maintain diligence and determination. If you fall short of your resolution, do not beat yourself up about it, for the overall goal is continual achievement. When it comes to your diet, avoid meal skipping, as doing so slows down your metabolism and thus prevents you from losing and maintaining a healthy weight. Make wise food choices and eat smaller portions. Eat fish; avoid fried foods; decrease unhealthy carbohydrate intake; stop drinking soft drinks and increase your water intake.

Once you have your diet and exercise routine in progress, challenge yourself to quit cigarette smoking if you are a smoker. This can be quite daunting, as nicotine is highly habitual and addictive. Set a stop date. See your physician to help you, as there are several available sources to help with smoking cessation.

Make a continual lifelong commitment to taking care of your body so your body can take care of you. Remember, small steps are efficient and lead to long-term success. Stay positive and maintain focus. Finally, keep in mind that it is never to late to start; we all have to start somewhere.

Happy New Year and good luck with keeping those resolutions.

Sheryl L. Strange-Canady, M.D. is a family practice physician who practices at Rockdale Medical Center