When it comes to making New Year’s resolutions, many people think it’s all or nothing.
Once you make the resolution, you either keep it 100 percent, or you fail. And once you fail, you feel like you might as well give up. As a health advocate, I believe every step toward improving your health is important.
Here are my top five tips for making health resolutions you can live with.
• Resolve to eat better. Note that I didn’t say “go on a diet” or “lose 10 pounds.” I just said eat better. It’s up to you to figure out what better means. If you eat out a lot, maybe it’s making better choices like choosing to order a salad instead of fries. If you cook at home, maybe it’s using olive oil instead of butter. Whatever you decide to do, don’t deprive yourself of everything you love. That’s a quick road to resolution failure. Instead, make small changes you can live with that will help you toward your overall goal.
• Work up to exercise. The key here is starting out slow so you’ll be able to keep going. If you’re not used to exercising, odds are good you’re going to be too sore to continue if you jump in too fast. So start out slow based on your current fitness level. Resolve to pick a reasonable goal and then find a partner. Exercise can be more fun when you share it with a friend. And make sure whatever exercise you chose is something you enjoy doing. For me, that turned out to be yoga. And to make it even more fun, I turned it into a once-a-week yoga party and potluck in my backyard with a group of friends.
• Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Our bodies are primarily made of water, which means we need water to survive. So this year, resolve to give your body more of what it craves – water. If you’re big on soda or coffee, start by trading one of your usual drinks for a glass of water each day. Since I switched from lattes to water, I have more energy and my thinking is clearer than ever. I also found that drinking more water makes my skin softer and helps me look younger. That’s a great bonus.
• Don’t skimp on your exams. As a health advocate, I know how important early detection is for all major illnesses. The sooner your doctors know something is wrong, the sooner they can take action to correct it. So make this the year, resolve to get all the preventive exams that are due for you.
In addition to gender specific exams like Pap smears, mammograms and prostate checks, everyone should have blood tests for cholesterol, blood glucose or sugar and hormone levels. Even if you think you’re too young, talk to your doctor about what tests he or she would like you to have. It’s a good idea to get early tests done while you are healthy to give your doctor a baseline for comparison later if something starts to go wrong.
• Put your health first. As a mom and a business owner, I know how easy it is to get caught up taking care of every other priority in my life before I take care of my health. So this year, resolve to put your own health at the top of your priority list. Take care of yourself so you’ll be healthy to take care of everyone and everything in your life that you value.
I believe it’s more important to live a healthy lifestyle all year long. Don’t think of your health resolutions as an all-or-nothing proposition – that gives you permission to give up if you fall short.
Instead, resolve to give yourself a break. Set reasonable goals, and move toward them at a reasonable pace; don’t worry about keeping your resolution 100 percent. If you slip up, just pick up where you left off. Every day, take one step closer to the healthier lifestyle you desire and by the end of the year, your body is bound to thank you.
Michelle King Robson (pronounced robe-son) is one of the nation's leading women's health and wellness advocates. She is the Founder, Chairperson and CEO of EmpowHER, one of the fastest-growing and largest social health companies dedicated exclusively to women's health and wellness. In 2011 EmpowHER reached more than 60 million women onsite and through syndication expects to reach more than 250 million in 2012.