Steps to a health­ier year

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - Polk Med­i­cal Cen­ter Chief Nurs­ing Of­fi­cer

Ed­i­tor’s note: this col­umn pro­vided by Polk Med­i­cal Cen­ter is meant for in­for­ma­tional pur­poses only.

When set­ting out on a fit­ness jour­ney, the first step is of­ten the hard­est. The idea of chang­ing what, in some cases, could be a life­time of un­healthy habits may seem daunt­ing, but there are some steps to take that will make it more man­age­able:

Our cul­ture tells us to seek fast re­sults, but when making longterm changes there are no short­cuts. As cliché as it may seem, we re­ally should treat this as a marathon and not a sprint. There should never be an end date ap­plied to healthy liv­ing. With pa­tience, the changes can last a through a long and healthy life­time.

It can be­come easy to get side­tracked when we wait un­til the day comes to de­cide if it’s the pool, the bike or the tread­mill. We can avoid that pit­fall by build­ing a de­tailed plan that pro­vides daily in­struc­tions, leav­ing out the guess­work. It is eas­ier to stick to the plan when we have one that shows us what is on the sched­ule, es­pe­cially when the temp­ta­tion comes to hit the snooze but­ton on a cold Jan­uary morn­ing. Most gyms have trained staff on hand that can help de­velop pro­grams and there are ex­cel­lent guide­lines avail­able from rep­utable or­ga­ni­za­tions like the Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion. Your pri­mary care physi­cian can also of­fer in­sight and should be con­sulted be­fore you be­gin a new ex­er­cise pro­gram.

Jour­nals serve the dual pur­pose of keep­ing us ac­count­able, while also pro­vid­ing an av­enue for cel­e­brat­ing each small vic­tory. Write down ev­ery­thing you eat, ev­ery­thing you do to be ac­tive. Even use it to keep track of those days you de­cide to skip. Jour­nals make ex­cel­lent prompts so al­ways keep it handy. And be hon­est, both in the days that are tri­umphant and the ones that are chal­leng­ing. A fit­ness di­ary also serves as a great re­minder of how far you have come. You will be amazed to see your progress.

We be­come what we do over and over. The more we do it, the quicker it be­comes a habit. Chances are, af­ter 30 days, when the habit be­comes es­tab­lished, you will find your­self feel­ing and look­ing bet­ter and hav­ing more con­fi­dence.

More than that, you will hope­fully find that you have adopted a new life­style, not just taken on a new ac­tiv­ity.

Work­ing out with a part­ner pro­vides nu­mer­ous ben­e­fits, not the least of which is ac­count­abil­ity. It is a lot harder to roll over and go back to sleep if you know some­one is wait­ing at the gym.

Plus, a part­ner can push you to work harder and achieve goals more quickly and can pro­vide en­cour­age­ment on days that chal­lenge seems too great.

Get­ting healthy and stay­ing healthy is as much men­tal as it is phys­i­cal, if not more so.

A plan of ac­tion can help re­move ob­sta­cles and help us live well.

Ti­fani Ki­nard, Polk Med­i­cal Cen­ter Chief Nurs­ing Of­fi­cer

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