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By Ackerman Cancer Center

on 12/29/2017

Making (and Keeping!) New Year’s Health Resolutions

Traditionally, New Year’s is a time for reevaluating our lives – where we are versus where we want to be. With the best of intentions, we set out to change bad habits and become a healthier version of ourselves, but so often, we fall short of the lofty goals we set.

Statistics show only 40 percent of New Year’s resolutions are still intact six months later. There are many reasons typical New Year’s resolutions fail, but there are ways to boost the chance for success.

Setting attainable goals is the first step. It is unlikely you will go from couch potato to super athlete within a few months, but you can increase your activity level and start down the path of better health with the following resolution success tips:

  • Eat for health. Cutting portions, boosting fruit and veggie intake and reducing sugary treats and alcohol are dietary improvements that can decrease cancer risk without completely depriving you of your favorite foods. Consider transitioning to the Mediterranean diet plan by upping your intake of plant-based foods, nuts and whole grains.
  • Plan and prepare. Don’t be caught off-guard by a snack attack, stock your kitchen with plenty of healthy, satisfying snacks. Hummus, almonds, air-popped popcorn, fruits and veggies are all easy to keep on-hand and quick to grab when hunger strikes.
  • Keep workout goals reasonable. It is unrealistic to think you will go from barely lifting your body out of the recliner to logging an hour of daily gym time, but that doesn’t mean you should give up. Aim for a brisk walk after dinner or 15 minutes of stretching while you enjoy your favorite TV program. Look for ways to incorporate exercise into your current lifestyle and strive to eventually reach 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week.
  • Protect yourself from the sun. Lower your risk of skin cancer by avoiding the midday sun and staying in the shade as much as possible when outdoors. Opt for sun protective clothing and wide brimmed hats, and apply daily sunscreen year ‘round.
  • Get a handle on your stress. Some stress is inevitable, but it is how you handle it that makes a difference for your health. Lighten a jam-packed schedule by saying no to just one thing a week, or let someone pick-up the slack occasionally. Meditate or take a brief time-out to practice deep breathing and enjoy a few quiet moments.
  • Make time for routine health checks and screening exams. Keep up-to-date with yearly mammograms starting around age 40 and begin routine colonoscopy at age 50. Women should have a Pap for cervical cancer screening starting at age 21 and men are advised to begin prostate screening at age 50. Those with health risk or family history may be advised to start screenings sooner. Click here for a comprehensive list of screening guidelines, broken down by age.
  • Make bedtime a priority. Getting plenty of sleep may be one of the healthiest things you can do. Adequate sleep boosts immunity, revs metabolism and sharpens memory. Set a reminder on your phone 30 minutes before bedtime to start winding down activities so you can get to sleep on time.

This year resolve to improve your health and reduce cancer risk. Remember, even small changes can have a big impact. Here is hoping 2018 is the year you make a difference in your health!

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