The New Year is a time where many people look back on the previous year and look at ways to improve and make the upcoming year a better one through new year’s resolutions. One of the most common classifications of these resolutions is improving your health. Whether you seek to improve your health through losing weight, reducing the intake of sugar or junk food in the diet, or stopping smoking, these are all daunting challenges if you don’t have specific goals and a plan to reaching these goals. Here are some guidelines for setting realistic health improvement goals for 2019.
In order to set a good health improvement goal, you need to know what specific thing you hope to accomplish with that goal. For example, if your goal is to lose weight. That is very vague and doesn’t really have a clear number that determines success. If the goal is that vague, you can consider reaching the goal a success even if you only weigh one pound less on December 31, 2019 than you did on January 1, 2019. But does such a tiny improvement indicate a significant improvement in your health? Of course not. A better goal for weight management might be lose 15 lbs. by December 31, 2019. Or instead of stating a health improvement goal of “be more active” why not say, “complete 10,000 steps a day at least 5 out of every 7 days each week.”
One of the most common obstacles that prevent people from reaching their goals is that they set completely unrealistic goals to begin with. If you are extremely overweight, setting a goal to run a half-marathon in four months is crazy, however completing a 5K fun run/walk in four months might be a manageable stretch goal. Look at where you are and what you want to accomplish objectively and then set a goal that might be a little difficult for you to achieve, but not impossible.
Another obstacle that tends to stop progress on health improvement goals is that in the excitement of starting a new goal you overdo it. Maybe in your efforts to lose weight you try to force yourself to eat only one meal a day, or eliminate sugar completely from your diet. These are pretty drastic actions that may simply backfire when the adrenaline fades and you feel simply miserable from the dramatic steps you took. At this point it is very easy to tell yourself that it is too hard and go back to your old bad habits.
It is important to start slow and build upon your progress. Maybe instead of cutting all sugar from your diet, you decide to limit yourself to one sweet per day, or stop drinking sugary sodas completely except for one each Saturday as a reward for meeting your weekly objectives.
Seeing improvement as the result of habit changes is difficult at times. Weight loss due to diet changes and increased activity might be very slow and hard to notice. This is why it is important to track your progress toward your health improvement goals. You can use devices like a FitBit or a smart watch to help track your activity, use apps to track your food intake and weight, or simply use a notebook to track your progress. Seeing improvement is highly motivating, so give yourself this opportunity by jotting your weight loss in a calendar or planner each day.
Use positive reinforcement to help keep you motivated for achieving your health improvement goals. Establish milestones that note important achievements within the health improvement process. For example, if your goal was to lose 20 lbs. over the upcoming year, then celebrate by rewarding yourself when you reach the milestones of losing 5 lbs., 10 lbs., etc. Give yourself a reward such as buying new clothes or going out to see a movie that you have been looking forward to once each milestone has been reached.
Before beginning any new diet or exercise program, it is important for you to set up an appointment with your primary care physician to make sure that you are healthy enough to begin and learn if there are any risks for you doing this. Your PCP may also be able to help you or provide you with weight management advice to help you along the way.
At PCP of Florida, we have doctors who accept Medicare and Medicaid on staff, as well as others who are on the list of Humana healthcare providers.
Some of the other insurances we carry at Primary Care Physicians of Florida are (but not limited to): Blue Cross Blue Shield, Avmed, Freedom Health, Cigna, and Preferred Care Partners. Please contact us for more information about the insurance plans we accept.
Set up a same-day doctor appointment by calling 954-983-9191 or fill out our online contact form to get started now.