Health Department

New Year, New You

Andrew’s Articles
Healthy Start to the New Year
January 9, 2018 

Happy New Year!  If you are like many people, you may have made a resolution to make a change in 2018.  Often these resolutions have something to do with improving your health. Maybe you’re off to a great start to being successful with your resolution, maybe you’ve already hit a hurdle and aren’t sure how to get back on track, or maybe you’re a little late in picking a resolution for 2018. Wherever you are, always remember that any day is a great day to choose a healthy habit to pick up or a bad habit to give up.  Below are five ways to kick off 2018 to a healthy start and four tips to help you to pick the right resolution to turn into a healthy habit. 

  1. Get a complete picture of your health. If you’re making resolutions that center around health, it’s important to know where you stand. It is recommended that people visit their medical provider at least once a year for a routine physical. This includes having your cholesterol and fasting blood sugar numbers checked which is also recommended to be done at least once a year. If your low-density lipoproteins (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol number is high, your odds of developing cardiovascular disease greatly increase. Testing your fasting blood sugar measures your risk for diabetes, a chronic disease that can lead to blindness, cardiac disease, kidney failure, nerve problems and an impaired immune system. It’s also good to know your blood pressure. A healthy blood pressure can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease and stroke. Some other numbers you should keep track of are your waist size and weight. If you’re sporting a large waistline, your risk of dying prematurely is nearly double. Being obese can cause a slew of health problems such as cardiovascular disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), gout, hypertension, high blood pressure and cancer.
  2. Drink more water. It may seem like a small goal, but staying hydrated can havedrastic effects on your overall health, from more energy to better skin to increased productivity at work. If you feel thirsty, your body is already slightly dehydrated. Water has many benefits to the body. Water helps maintain the balance of body fluids, controls calories, helps energize muscles, keeps skin looking good, and helps your kidneys stay healthy.  Remember, it’s also calorie-free, affordable, and readily available.  Independence’s water is particularly special because it is also recognized world-wide for being great-tasting.  In 2017 it came in 5th in the Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting competition where it competed against over 100 other water sources spread over three continents.
  3. Get more sleep. Sleep (or more specifically, lack of it) is often theunderlying cause of many of our health issues, including stress and anxiety, weight gain and low immunity. A number of studies have confirmed that we need seven to nine hours of sleep each night to feel adequately rested. Among the many benefits of getting enough sleep are feeling better, decreasing your risk for cardiovascular disease, and boosting and strengthening memory. Make an effort to go to bed earlier a few nights each week.
  4. Learn to relax. If you find yourself frequently getting stressed, you may be putting your heart health at risk. Stress can cause your blood pressure to rise, and if chronic, it can increase your risk of insomnia,depression, obesity, and heart disease. It may also lead you to seek stress relief from unhealthy habits. When your stress level starts to rise, take a few minutes to do some deep breathing to help you relax, and make sure to take some time for yourself each day doing something you enjoy.
  5. Reduce Sodium Consumption: Studies show that many Americans consume close to twice the recommended limit of sodium, which is 1500 mg, or .75 tsp, daily. Besides contributing to water retention, sodium can raise blood pressure. Processed foods contain the most, so make sure to read labels. Lower sodium diets are linked to decreased risk of heart disease, lower hypertension, and weight management.

Here’s how to identify the right resolution to improve your life, create a plan on how to reach it, and become part of the group of people that successfully achieve their goal.

  1. Pick the Right Resolution. You’ll give yourself your best shot at success if you set a goal that’s doable and meaningful. Make sure your resolution is chosen because it is something you want to do or change, not something that someone else suggests you do, or something you’re doing just because someone else is doing it. Additionally, make sure your resolution is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. All of these can set you up for success.
  2. Create your plan and plan for hurdles. Your end goal won’t just magically appear. It will take effort and work to change your life. Because you won’t just wake up and have changed your life, you need to lay out a plan for how you are going to succeed, identify what roadblocks you might come across along the way, and determine how you can avoid those barriers and how you will overcome them.
  3. Start with small steps and celebrate each success. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will you succeed in your resolution overnight. In your plan, create small steps that will help you reach your ultimate goal. Then every time you complete that step, celebrate! This is a huge part in being successful overall.
  4. Don’t give up. No one’s perfect, and your quest for your resolution won’t be either. But don’t let a slip up make you give up. You can get back on track. Remember, any day is a good day to start a new healthy habit to make your life better.

Don’t try to do it all in a day. Know that to be successful will take time and effort and should happen with small steps along the way to reach your goal. Use these tips and tricks to help you choose a resolution, and succeed at it. Start when you are ready and don’t give up after a slip-up to make some long-term changes in your life.