Go Small to Help Realize Your Resolutions

octavio-vegaBy Octavio Vega, MD

At the beginning of any new year, we often have the inner motivation to make new year’s resolutions. This is frequently the time when people decide to make positive changes in their health and overall well-being.

However, sometimes we set ourselves up to bite off more than we can chew and, unfortunately, end up abandoning the resolutions altogether. Instead of focusing on large goals that may be difficult to attain, make smaller changes that will enable you to achieve sustainable results.

Here are some suggestions for small goals that will equal big changes in your health (and could also positively affect other facets of your life):

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Resolve to Stay Active in the New Year

The new year is upon us, and if you’ve resolved to lead a healthier, more active life in 2010, here are a few tips for sticking with that resolution beyond the third week of January.

  • Start small: Don’t set goals that are too difficult to achieve
  • Do what you enjoy: Pick an activity that makes you feel good (this will keep you going for the long run)
  • Keep it simple: If the activity is too complicated or requires lots of time to set up, this may discourage you from even starting. For example, taking a walk every day is going to be more beneficial than a complicated exercise routine that you rarely do.
  • Keep score: Keep a diary of your progress, which allows you to see how far you’ve come.
  • Reward yourself: Take yourself to see a movie, shopping or some other activity to reward your commitment and progress.

Tips to Help You Quit Smoking in 2010

Have you resolved to quit smoking for good in the new year? Here are some tips to help you get started from Carol Southard, RN, a tobacco treatment specialist at the Prevention Center at Rush University Medical Center.

1. The vast majority of people who smoke wish they didn’t, but have great difficulty stopping on their own. Being in a structured smoking cessation program can teach you how and greatly increase the chances of permanent success.

“All smokers have been told often by loved ones to quit smoking because it is bad for their health; however, no one really tells you how to quit,” says Carol Southard, RN, tobacco treatment specialist at Rush.

2. List at least one personal reason for quitting in addition to you health. For example: Think of all the money you are spending on cigarettes or how it makes your clothes or house smell bad.

3. Rank your cigarettes. Making a list of all the places and situations in which you smoke will help you eliminate smoking from your daily routine.

4. There is nothing wrong with using nicotine replacement products to help with withdrawal symptoms.

5. Set a quit date.

6. Understand and never forget that withdrawal symptoms are temporary.

7. When the urge to smoke hits, take deep breaths slowly and deeply. The urge to smoke only lasts a few minutes and will pass.

8. Drink lots of water and juices to help cleanse your body of nicotine.

9. Keep your hands and mind busy. Work on a crossword puzzle, knit a sweater or fix something around your house.

10. Pat yourself of the back. Be proud of yourself. You deserve it.

The Prevention Center at Rush’s comprehensive smoking cessation program starts on January 12.

Rush Resources: