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Resolutions for a Happy and Healthy 2019

by UPMC Susquehanna

Each year, the number one and number two New Year’s resolutions for Americans are to get healthy and lose weight. But only eight percent of people felt they keep that resolution beyond a few months.

It is important to start 2019 with the right types of resolutions — healthy resolutions that help you reach your goals. Resolutions can be a way to push the reset button and stop some of your bad habits.

Commit to Good Health

To get 2019 off to a good start and help you establish your annual health goals, you should schedule your annual well visit with your primary care physician. It makes sense to include your doctor in the discussion about your health and wellness goals. It can help you stay on track so you aren’t part of the 92 percent that abandons your resolutions. It also allows you to have a discussion with your doctor about changes in your health, preventive care, or screenings that may be appropriate.

As you commit to good health, some bad habits need stop immediately.

* If you smoke — stop. Get help from your primary care physician or join a smoking cessation class to kick this addiction.

* Limit your alcohol consumption. You may have allowed yourself to indulge during the holidays, but alcohol is a contributing factor to heart disease, cancer, and a host of other illnesses.

* Get more sleep. Sleep is just as crucial to your health as diet and exercise. Make sure you try to get eight hours of sleep a night. Turn down the thermostat and close the curtains, it can help you get quality rest.

Change Your Diet

Eating healthier is an essential part of a healthy and happy new year. As you recommit to good health, follow these tips to update your food choices.

* Eat five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day. The recommended amount of fruits and vegetables seems like a lot, but by filling your menu with these choices, you stay full longer. It also helps you stop reaching for the junk food you may crave.

* Eat less salt. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2300 mg of sodium a day. Cereals, breads, soups, and condiments contain a large amount of sodium. Adding up your daily intake will help you keep your heart healthy. You should throw out your salt shaker as the added sodium is not needed in most recipes.

* Avoid processed foods. Processed foods add sugar and sodium to your diet that you do not need. If you shop on the perimeter of a grocery store you are focusing on healthy whole foods. Avoid the interior aisles to steer clear of processed foods.

* Read nutrition labels. When you see items on a label and you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it. You should not put something in your body that you cannot understand.

Your primary care doctor or a dietitian can help you create a diet that is right for you and your health goals.

Incorporate Exercise into Your Life

Exercise can help you feel better, have more energy, and add years to your life. If you are looking to be a healthier, happier you in 2019, here are tips to make exercise a part of your life.

* Take the stairs. If you are able, avoid the elevator. Always choose the steps to add more movement to your day.

* Park in the back of the lot. When you go to the store, park in the spot farthest from the entrance. The extra steps to the store can add up over time.

* Schedule exercise. By adding a block of time three times a week to your calendar you are more likely to commit that time to improve your health.

* Find an exercise buddy. Join a gym or walk with a friend a few times a week. It gives you time to catch up and makes the time go by faster.

* Log your exercise. Every time you exercise, write down your activity and keep a log to help celebrate milestones. Online apps on your phone can also help you keep track. Try Myfitnesspal or Runkeeper to record your fitness routines and help keep you motivated.

As you get into your new routine for health in 2019, don’t forget you aren’t alone. Your primary care doctor is there to help you.

If you haven’t seen a primary care doctor in more than two years, don’t let another year go by without scheduling an appointment. If you don't have a primary care provider, find one in your community. You may feel fine today, but it's important to maintain a relationship with your physician so you have a partner in health.

If you need to schedule your annual well visit, talk to your primary care physician.

Robin Spangler, MD, is a family medicine physician affiliated with UPMC Susquehanna Sunbury. Her office is located at 330 N. 12th St., Sunbury. To schedule an appointment, please call 570-286-0303.