Tag Archives: New Year’s resolutions

Real resolutions to help you meet your health and fitness goals in 2020.

Have you made your New Year’s resolutions yet? If not, there is still time. Among the most common resolutions are changes to improve health, including quitting smoking, losing weight, and starting an exercise program. Some people set specific goals, such as losing 20 pounds or running a marathon, while others take a more general approach, like eating healthier or getting in shape. Either way, these are excellent goals, but they should not be your only New Year’s resolutions.

 

Your resolutions should also include the things you need to do and change to achieve these goals. For example, losing 20 pounds is a good goal for many people. But what that really means is learning about a healthier way to eat, shopping for and preparing appropriate meals, finding time to exercise each day, and focusing on turning these behaviors into lasting habits. These behaviors would make an excellent resolutions that would lead toward the weight loss goal.

scrabble resolutions

Photo by Breakingpic on Pexels.com

With this in mind, here are a few resolutions that can help you achieve your health improvement goals:

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Get out of debt—health debt—in 2019.

Getting out of debt is a worthwhile goal and a common New Year’s resolution. This almost always means financial debt, which is a burden for millions of Americans. Many individuals and families have gotten themselves into debt by spending too much and not saving enough. For most, this situation has been years in the making, has no simple solution, and will have an impact lasting years into the future. Reducing this debt is essential for achieving financial health.

This is not the only type of debt we face—many people are also in health debt. Poor eating habits and increasingly sedentary lifestyles have led to an obesity epidemic. The problem is widespread, since most Americans are overweight, fewer than half of US adults meet minimum recommendations for physical activity, and about one in six adults smoke. Alone and especially in combination, these poor health habits are the major causes of the most common, and preventable, diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers.

Even if we have not been diagnosed with diabetes or heart disease or other health problems, our lifestyle has put us on that path. Small changes in what we eat or how active we are have added up over the years to create a condition of poor health. And our overall health and potential complications get worse year after year, so the longer we are overweight and inactive, the worse our health is likely to be in the future. That is our health debt. This is the topic of my Health & Fitness column in the Aiken Standard this week.

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Resolutions to make your family happier and healthier in 2017

 

By this time, you are probably well into your New Year’s resolutions. Hopefully, you are still on track to meet your goals. Whether they are health-related or not, it is likely that your goals focus on you. But what about the rest of your family? Fortunately, there are a few resolutions that your whole family can make that will help you all move, eat, and sleep better. Here are a few ways your family can make 2017 a happy and healthy year.

kids-jumping


Make sure everyone in the family is active every day.

Physical activity is critical for good health for everyone. Beyond that, being active can help you perform better at work and school and make it easier to do things you enjoy in your leisure time. Adults should be active for a minimum of 30 minutes per day. Everything from taking the dog for a walk to a fitness class at the gym counts. For children, the goal is 60 minutes per day through PE class, sports, and play. As a bonus, you can do at least some of the activity together to make activity a family event!

 

Make healthy eating a family project.

There is a lot of confusion about what makes a healthy diet, but there are a few guidelines almost everyone agrees on. First, eat more fruits and vegetables. At a minimum, eat at least 5 servings each day, but try for twice that. Second, limit added sugars and salt. This is tricky since salt, sugar, and other sweeteners are added to most processed foods. Eating too much sugar is known to contribute to obesity, heart disease, and some cancers, so this is among the smartest nutrition moves you can make. Salt, by itself, isn’t necessarily harmful, but less salt almost always means less processed food and more “real” food. Finally, be mindful of portion sizes. Super-sized servings and second (and third) helpings are the primary reason why people gain weight over time.

 

Plan to eat at least one meal together each day.

Most experts agree that family dinners are important for promoting good communication and healthy eating habits. Given that our days are busy with work, school, and other activities, eating dinner together every night is unrealistic for many families. So, start with planning at least one family dinner at home each week. This is also a good opportunity to teach children about food and cooking, so it is even better if you prepare the meal together.

Make getting enough sleep a priority.

Many American adults and children don’t get enough sleep. Many American adults and children don’t get enough sleep. Lack of sleep can affect children’s growth, development, and learning. It can also have an impact on an adult’s productivity at work. The effect of chronic stress on health is well-known and we should recognize a lack of sleep as a form of stress. A good goal for adults is 7–9 hours of sleep each night. School-aged children need 8–12 hours, with younger kids requiring more sleep. As difficult as it may be, earlier bedtimes can benefit everyone in the family. Limiting screen time (TV, computer, tablet) before bed can help improve sleep, too.

Obviously, these ideas are easier read than done, especially for busy families. But moving more, eating better, and getting more sleep—especially if it is done together—can help your family enjoy a happier and healthier year.


Nutrition, exercise, and health information can be confusing. 
But it doesn't have to be that way.
What can I help you with?
 drparrsays@gmail.com | @drparrsays

 


							

What is your second chance New Year’s Resolution?

Last week I was a guest on the RadioMD show, Train Your Body, to talk about the idea of using this transition from summer into fall as a second chance to revisit stalled or failed New Year’s Resolutions. In the discussion, Melanie Cole (the host) asked listeners to share their Second Chance New Year’s Resolutions.

I figured I would play along, too. Here’s mine…

Version 2


I registered to complete a fitness challenge at our campus Wellness Center called PacerFit. It is a 12-week program with weekly workouts that are scored based on performance (time to complete, weight lifted, reps completed, etc.). Most of the participants are students–many of them mine–so the pressure is on!

This is part of a broader goal of mine to shift my focus from exercise for health to exercise for fitness. For the past several years, my activity and exercise habits have been more geared to meeting health goals. But this seems like a good time to start doing more real training for the purpose of improving fitness. And the PacerFit challenge seems like a good way to start.

Good luck with your second chance New Year’s resolution!


Nutrition, exercise, and health information can be confusing. 
But it doesn't have to be that way.
What can I help you with?
 drbrianparr@gmail.com | http://twitter.com/drbrianparr

A second chance for your New Year’s resolutions

How are you doing on your New Year’s resolutions? Hopefully, you are still on track to meet your goals. If not, you are in good company. Research suggests that by this time well over half of people who made New Year’s resolutions have either lost momentum or given up altogether and that only 8% will achieve their goal.

There are a host of reasons for this. Some of the most common resolutions—quitting smoking, losing weight, and getting in shape—are also some of the most difficult behaviors to change because they require making significant lifestyle modifications. To make things worse, many people set unrealistic goals or try to take on too much at once.

Many people who fail to keep their New Year’s resolutions this year will recycle them next year and try again. In fact, most people who manage to successfully quit smoking or lose weight have tried many times in the past. Sometimes experience, even a bad experience, is the best way to learn what does and doesn’t work.

But there is no need to wait until January 1 to try again. It turns out that now is a perfect time to restart your stalled New Year’s resolution or finally get around to doing what you planned months ago. Labor Day marks the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year, so it is a natural time to set goals and make changes. This is the topic of my Health & Fitness column in the Aiken Standard this week.

Resolution list


Since setting a date to begin a behavior change is critical step in the process, why not give yourself a second chance on your New Year’s resolutions today?

Here is some advice to help restart (or start!) your New Year’s resolutions successfully.

Be realistic. Many people fail to keep their resolutions simply because they don’t set realistic goals or aren’t honest with themselves about what it will take to meet those goals. For example, running a marathon is an ambitious goal for almost everyone, especially someone who doesn’t exercise at all. A resolution to work up to jogging five days per week, with a goal of completing a 5k run is more realistic and achievable.

Focus on learning. Making most health behavior changes involves learning as much as doing. Something as simple as eating healthier meals requires learning about the nutrients that make some foods better than others, learning to read food labels to select healthy foods, and learning how to cook and prepare healthy meals. If your resolution is to learn about healthy meals, you will be able to achieve that goal and be well on your way to eating a healthier diet.

Manage your time. Most health improvement projects require taking time to learn about, implement, and maintain those healthy behaviors. If you resolve to manage your time to include exercise or meal preparation in your daily schedule you will be much more likely to meet your goals. Trying to add these new activities as “extras” to your already busy day will inevitably lead to them getting squeezed out.

Plan ahead. Most people already know that changing health behaviors can be challenging, even under the best circumstances. It’s no wonder that holidays, travel, and other life events can complicate or even derail an otherwise successful diet or exercise program. Make it your resolution to think about what you can do before, during, and after these (and other) disruptions occur to keep yourself on track.

Hopefully these steps will help you keep your resolutions, achieve your goals, and make this a happy, healthy year. As a bonus, you can take January 1 off!


Nutrition, exercise, and health information can be confusing. 
But it doesn't have to be that way.
What can I help you with?
 drbrianparr@gmail.com | http://twitter.com/drbrianparr

What to expect when you join a gym

One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to start an exercise program. One good way to do this is to join a gym. The equipment, exercise classes, access to fitness professionals, and the accountability of paying for a membership at a gym can help you meet your exercise goals.

But many people are intimidated by the gym experience or recall a time when exercise meant running, lifting weights, and a “no pain, no gain” mentality. The reality is the modern fitness facilities are constantly changing what they offer to meet the needs of people who are new to exercise as well as those with more experience who are looking for a new challenge.

Since 2007, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has surveyed health and fitness professionals to identify exercise trends for the upcoming year. The report for 2015 was published in ACSM’s Health and Fitness Journal in November. Here is a summary of the top ten fitness trends to look for in 2015.

The biggest fitness trend for 2015 is body weight training. Popular for building strength and endurance with minimal equipment, body weight training goes far beyond the push-ups and pull-ups you may remember doing in PE class. This type of training can be done almost anywhere, which is good news for people who are on a budget or want to train at home.

Next is high-intensity interval training (HIIT). This type of training uses repeated cycles of short, maximal or near-maximal exercise alternated with short rest periods. These HIIT sessions last less than 30 minutes but lead to fitness improvements that exceed those of traditional longer-duration training. Beginning exercisers should note that HIIT training is intense, so starting slow is recommended.

These first two trends are relevant even in you don’t join a gym. A good example of a high-intensity, body-weight workout that you can do at home with minimal equipment was published in the ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal in 2013. Because of it’s simplicity and effectiveness, it received much attention in the media and is the foundation of at least one fitness app.

Third on the list is educated and experienced fitness professionals. You should look for a facility that requires the staff to have fitness certifications that involve both education and experience. Some of the most respected certifications are through professional organizations including ACSM, National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), and American Council on Exercise (ACE).

This may include personal training, both individually and in groups. Personal trainers are excellent resources for people just starting out to learn proper techniques, set goals, and track progress. Experienced exercisers can get a motivation boost and learn new ways to enhance their training. Group personal training adds a team dynamic and can be more economical than one-on-one training. Again, finding a trainer who has experience working with people like you is essential, so ask for recommendations and references to get the best match.

Other trends on the list include strength training and yoga. Aerobic exercise, including walking, running, cycling, and swimming, are among the most common forms of exercise. But there are additional benefits to including strength and flexibility training in an exercise program. Building strength can make everyday activities easier, help maintain bone mass, and boost your metabolic rate. Activities like yoga can improve flexibility, which can help reduce the risk of muscle and joint injuries. Yoga can also help with stress management and promote feelings of wellbeing.

While this list does not include every popular or “trendy” type of exercise, it does capture the components of most types of training. CrossFit, for example, is a combination of body weight, strength, and functional training involving high-intensity intervals in a group setting.

Even if you don’t plan to join a gym or aren’t interested in the latest fitness trends, keep in mind that even something as untrendy as walking for 30 minutes each day can have substantial health and fitness benefits. And if you haven’t been exercising, this can be a great way to get started on a happy and healthy New Year!

Not sure where to begin to improve your health? A guide to taking the first step

If you are thinking about losing weight, becoming more active, or quitting smoking you are not alone. These are three of the most common health-related New Year’s resolutions. Considering that two-thirds of American adults are overweight, about half don’t meet minimum recommendations for physical activity, and one in five smoke, there are many people who need to change more than one of these behaviors.

Quitting smoking and changing eating and exercise habits to lose weight or improve fitness are among the most difficult behavior changes to make, especially at the same time. Some people focus on one change to begin with.

Obviously, changing all three of these behaviors is ideal, but if you are only willing to change one, which should you take on first to have the biggest impact on your overall health? This is the topic of my Health & Fitness column in the Aiken Standard this week.

You might think that quitting smoking would be the most important change to make initially. Smoking is the primary cause of lung cancer and other respiratory diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Smoking also increases the risk of most other cancers and is a major contributor to heart attacks and strokes. Quitting smoking greatly reduces these risks with beneficial changes that begin within days of quitting. Despite this, if you only want to change one behavior, smoking isn’t the place to start.

Being overweight is a leading cause of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and some cancers. If you are overweight, losing just 10% of your body weight (20 lbs. for a 200 lb. person) can significantly reduce the severity of these conditions. Maintaining a healthy body weight can prevent many of these health problems. However, losing weight is not the first change you should make.

It turns out that becoming physically active is the most important change you can make to improve your overall health. Decades of research show that regular physical activity reduces the risk of most chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers and can extend the lifespan by up to five years. In fact, the health risks of inactivity are equal to or greater than that of obesity or smoking. Regular activity also improves muscular strength, aerobic fitness, bone density, cognitive function, and memory. There is no other single intervention—drugs included—that has as many health benefits.

Research also shows that the negative health effects of being overweight and obesity are, in part, caused by inactivity and poor fitness. If you are overweight but physically fit, your risk of death is lower than if you are at a “healthy” weight but unfit. Regular exercise can reduce the risk of diabetes in people who are overweight, whether they lose weight or not. Furthermore, studies of “successful losers” show that daily exercise is a requirement for long-term weight loss, so becoming active now can help you lose weight later.

You should change all three of these behaviors to achieve optimal health. But if you are looking for an initial step that will have the biggest impact, start by becoming more active. A good initial goal is to reduce the time you spend being sedentary (sitting) and to get a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity, such as a brisk walk, each day. You can get greater benefits by participating in more intense exercise, including strength training, three or more days per week. And once you have established a routine of regular activity you will be ready to make other health changes.