Seniors should be realistic when making New Year’s resolutions

Posted Jan. 03, 2012, at 9:05 a.m.

The New Year is upon us. Traditionally it’s 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 of making big changes and executing them perfectly. 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 everyday and giving up all “bad” foods, try 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.

Making a plan 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. While everyone who

smokes should stop, the method of quitting is individualized. Have a conversation with your

doctor. There are many products on the market that can make your dream of quitting a reality.

Best news of all, Medicare covers smoking cessation. And for those of you who think I’m just

blowing smoke about this, I assure you that am not. I myself quit smoking 12 years ago and I

won’t lie to you, it was hard. But it can be done and I am the better for it. You will be too.

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 positive and encouraging people a priority. Enthusiasm

is contagious.

• Take your medication as your doctor ordered. Ask questions if you don’t understand

something your medical provider said or bring someone with you who can take notes.

• 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.

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 chtaylor@eaaa.org. For information on EAAA, call 941-2865, toll-free (800)

432-7812, e-mail info@eaaa.org or log on EAAA.org. TTY 992-0150.

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