OK, it is now officially the new year. Traditionally this is a time when we make great big plans to get in shape mentally and physically.
Well, with years of broken resolutions behind me, I’m finally over the grandiose schemes. So this year I suggest a much smaller scale, taking things slowly and easily, all the while hoping the little lifestyle changes stick.
Let’s think about losing weight and getting stronger and in better shape, which is always at the top of the resolutions chart.
Instead of pledging to exercise every day and giving up all “bad” foods, how about promising to add a couple of servings of fruit or vegetables to your daily diet.
Blueberries on cereal, bananas and peanut butter on toast, or a glass of orange juice are all doable. Once a firm habit is established, add a few more things such as vegetables on sandwiches or thrown in sauces and soups.
Planning to exercise every day if you’re not used to it is an exercise in frustration. Trust me on this. However, starting a fitness program by doing two 10-minute sessions on most days is easy and can turn into exercising every day for 30 to 60 minutes in no time.
And let’s not forget water. If you’re not a heavy water drinker, six to eight glasses a day — which is the often recommended amount — may seem impossible. Think about drinking a glass before each meal and at snack time. Other fluids count, too, so have some skim milk and juice.
Quitting smoking is another popular resolution and a tough one. Pledging to never smoke another cigarette again is a lofty goal and may work for some people. But quitting is hard and sometimes phasing out a habit is easier than going cold turkey. While everyone who smokes should stop, how to quit is a very personal decision.
Mapping out a couple weeks where you cut back a little more every day until you have stopped smoking altogether may help.
For example, set limits for yourself such as no smoking in the car, or while on the phone. Designate certain hours of the day as “nonsmoking” such as first thing in the morning while drinking coffee. Or see your doctor, who can help. There are many products on the market to make your dream of quitting a reality.
And for those of you who think I’m just blowing smoke, I am not. I myself quit smoking 11 years ago and I won’t lie to you — it was hard. But it can be done and I am the better for it.
Here are some other resolutions which may help make your new year better:
- Don’t underestimate the power of laughter. Laughing at yourself and not taking things too seriously can make you happier in the long run, while making you feel calmer and more peaceful. Laughter has always been thought to be the best medicine.
- Make surrounding yourself with people who are positive and encouraging a priority. Enthusiasm is contagious.
- Take your medication as your doctor ordered. Ask questions if you don’t understand something your medical provider said.
- Learn about depression. If you exhibit any symptoms at all, call your doctor. Depression is treatable, so pledge to seek help if necessary.
- Prevent falls by removing scatter rugs, making sure stairways are well-lit and keeping pathways clear.
- Learn or do something new. Take a class, sing in a choir, find a hobby or volunteer some of your time. This could be your year to make a difference. My editor’s mother started her volunteer career at 78.
And one last resolution to think about:
Be good to yourself every day. Treat yourself as you would your best friend. You deserve it.
Carol Higgins Taylor is director of communications at Eastern Area Agency on Aging. E-mail Higgins Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on EAAA, call 941-2865, toll-free 800-432-7812, e-mail email@example.com or log on EAAA.org. TTY 992-0150.