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Natural Awakenings Boston

Smarter Strategies for a Healthy New Year

Dec 26, 2012 06:44PM ● By Wendie Trubow

 

Each January, most gyms are chock-full of people with good fitness intentions for the New Year. The crowds usually thin out by February, however, because those passionate vows to lose weight and get healthy can be difficult to maintain. That’s why it’s important to create strategies for success that can support a healthy lifestyle all year long.

When making health and fitness goals, the first thing to explore is whether they are realistic. While it’s reasonable to assume that a highly trained athlete can work out seven days a week for an hour each day, this is an unrealistic goal for the average person. As a result, such a rigorous program is almost guaranteed to fail. If exercise is not yet a part of someone’s daily routine, it would be more effective to start with a program of three to four half-hour sessions a week.

The next criterion for a successful lifestyle change is that it be sustainable. For example, if the goal is to lose weight, then a diet consisting of only 500 calories a day will be effective. If the goal is to lose weight and keep it off, however, this would not be sustainable because the pounds will come back as soon as calories are increased. A less drastic program, consisting of about 1,000 calories a day, supports a slower reduction in weight that’s more likely to last.

The third critical aspect of any health goal is that it be specific and measureable. Instead of saying "I want to get healthy," it’s more effective to spell that out. Does getting healthy mean eating less sugar and refined carbs? If so, how many servings a week would be allowed? “I want to lose weight,” is another great intention, but planning to lose 2 pounds a week for the next 15 weeks is a specific, measureable goal that’s easier to track.

Finally, when making resolutions for the New Year, it’s critical to consider one’s everyday environment. If the aim is to quit smoking, how likely is a person to succeed if everyone else in the house smokes? It’s essential to predict and strategize around the challenges of being surrounded by friends, family members and co-workers with less healthy habits. A support group or a “healthy habits buddy” could bolster good intentions in such cases.

Dr. Wendie Trubow is a practicing physician and Quality Director at Visions HealthCare, located at 170 Worcester St. (Rt. 9) in Wellesley, with a second Dedham location opening this month. For more information, call 781-232-5400 or visit VisionsHealthCare.com.

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