New year, new resolutions: How to stay healthy in the new year | VailDaily.com

New year, new resolutions: How to stay healthy in the new year

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By Katie Coakley
Sponsored by Kaiser Permanente

A new year brings new resolve: to make healthier choices, to lose weight, to get in shape. More than 40 percent of Americans make new year's resolutions each year: 21.4 percent of people listed "lose weight/healthier eating" as a resolution for 2017, according to a survey by Statistic Brain.

In the Vail Valley, Dr. Jeannine Benson, internal medicine physician at Kaiser Permanente Edwards medical offices, hears several resolutions pop up time and again: losing weight, quitting smoking, quitting drinking and working on stress reduction and/or improving work/life balance.

Resolve to stay healthy

Goals like losing weight, quitting unhealthy habits and improving emotional health are all worthy goals, Benson said, if they're relevant for your current lifestyle. However, there are other goals that can help you gain or maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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 "I think that yearly goals should include: making sure all preventative screenings are up to date and staying connected with your primary care physician to ensure any chronic conditions are managed and in control," Benson said.

Other positive year-round goals include maintaining a well-balanced, healthy diet with lots of fruits, veggies and lean meats; drinking plenty of water (especially here at the higher elevations); getting enough exercise — 30 minutes a day is optimal — and avoiding the bad things like drugs, too much alcohol and smoking.

In addition to staying active, Benson encourages safety while recreating. Wearing helmets when skiing and snowboarding, making sure to have extra supplies in the car when driving (blankets, water, a full tank of gas, charged cell phones, flashlights., etc.), wearing sunscreen (even in the winter) and making sure you are aware of avalanche risks or other hazards while in the backcountry are all goals that can help you enjoy a long and happy life.

"We want our members to be as healthy as possible and make sure we help as much as we can to achieve their goals," Benson said.

A cheerleader for health

"I definitely think that these resolutions are reasonable and attainable," Benson said. "Overall, they are good goals to improve someone’s health and quality of life. Whether it is the new year that sparks the motivation or another event, I always encourage my patients when they are trying to make a life improving change."

Benson explained that her role as a primary care physician is to be her patients' cheerleader.

"I can only do so much as a doctor," she said. "A lot of health changes have to come from the person to be successful, so it is my job to encourage them to make those changes. I am also realistic and understand that as the year goes along, the motivation for making these changes can wane, but at every visit, these are things we should address for preventative health anyway."

Keep up the resolutions

It's easier to make resolutions than it is to keep them: less than 10 percent of people who made resolutions felt like they were successful in achieving their resolutions. However, Benson had some advice.

"I recommend having a buddy to help with these goals," she said. "It always helps to have someone motivating you, helping you be accountable for health choices."

She also encouraged people to not give up.

"I see so many people give up if they have a bad day," she continued.  "I recommend starting new every day with the same goals. It often takes many tries to break a bad habit, so do not beat yourself up — keep going!"

She also suggested getting your doctor involved: there may be some tools that your primary care physician can offer to help you attain your goals.

2017 could be your healthiest year yet—make those resolutions and utilize all of the resources available to make them stick.