To help ring in 2020, we searched through the past year of Monday Medical articles and culled a few tips that you just might want to add to your list of resolutions. Check them out below.
Make your diet decisions at the grocery store
For many Americans, resolution No. 1 is to lose weight. If that’s on your list, remember that decisions about what you eat begin long before you’re standing at the refrigerator.
“I’ve often told people, whether they’re trying to lose weight or change their diet, ‘If it’s bought, it will be eaten,’” said Dr. Charlie Petersen, an internal medicine physician in Steamboat Springs and a member of the medical staff at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center. “The decision to eat that food was made in the grocery store.”
Petersen also reminds patients that eating healthy isn’t just about what you eliminate from your diet: make sure you’re adding in a range of healthy foods, especially fruits and vegetables.
Make it easy by choosing prewashed vegetables, snacking on nuts or fruit and using frozen fruits and vegetables, which offer maximum nutrition since they’re picked fresh at peak ripeness.
Tackle diet and exercise together
For resolution success, goals shouldn’t be too lofty. But studies have shown people have more success when diet and exercise are addressed simultaneously, possibly because positive results from each change built on each other.
“You’re going to feel better doing both,” said Dr. Michelle Jimerson, a family medicine physician in Steamboat Springs and a member of the medical staff at Yampa Valley Medical Center. “If you’re focusing on just one, you might lose motivation and never get around to the other one. But if do both, you can more quickly develop this healthy lifestyle that feels so good, you’re motivated to continue.”
Avoid burnout by starting with small, simple changes, such as parking further away from work or a store and adding vegetables into casseroles and spaghetti sauce.
Stay active with something you love
In Steamboat, there are lots of ways to get moving. But don’t worry if you’re not a skier or mountain biker — walking, dancing and gardening count, too.
“Don’t just do something because it’s good for you,” said Christy Kopischke, a physical therapist with UCHealth Occupational Medicine and SportsMed clinics. “If you prefer walking, then walk. Doing activities you enjoy means you’re going to stay more engaged and move more often.”
And don’t forget the power of nature: studies have shown that being outside in nature for just a few minutes can lower your blood pressure.
Take a deep breath
A little meditation can have big benefits, such as improved sleep and self-worth and decreased anxiety, depression and chronic pain.
“MRI imaging studies have shown that meditation changes brain function,” said Dr. Rosanne Iversen, a family medicine physician in Steamboat and a member of the medical staff at Yampa Valley Medical Center.
And it doesn’t have to take a lot of time. “Usually, I tell patients to softly close their eyes and count to three while breathing in, then count to three while breathing out, and do that for three breaths,” Iversen said.
Be safe in the great outdoors
The outdoor adventures that Colorado is known for can also be risky. Resolve to reduce that risk by always understanding the environment you’ll be in, having emergency supplies for food, water and shelter and making sure someone knows where you are.
“Our approach in the emergency department is always an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” said Dr. Nathan Anderson, an emergency medicine physician at Yampa Valley Medical Center. “There’s always a risk of a freak accident — it happens to the best Himalayan mountaineers. But you can reduce the likelihood of one happening by anticipating and preparing for issues, leaving a way out and being up to the task you’ve selected.”
Cheers to the New Year. We hope your resolutions, whatever they may be, help make your year healthy, satisfying and fun.
Susan Cunningham writes for UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.