Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Tips for New Year's Resolutions

It's that time of year again. Do you typically decide to set New Year's resolutions? Many of us have set them before or choose to not even bother after many years of attempts. It can be difficult to change your lifestyle habits. I encourage everyone to set one to three goals for the year ahead. This doesn't have to be done at the first of the year; goals towards improvement can (and should) be made at anytime.

First, take a moment to reflect on your positive attributes. Think of all the wonderful people in your life and great accomplishments. Consider not only what you would like to change, but what you would like to remain the same. Goals can build on your successes to help fade your negative thoughts. Keep in mind the power of exercise and nutrition to benefit your health when creating goals.

Follow these tips for setting goals towards a healthier you:
  • Be realistic: Set small changes for long-term impact. If your goal is to drop 30 pounds, try an achievable goal of aiming to reduce one pound per week. Focus on one goal and add to it once it is part of your lifestyle. 
    • For example, consume at least five servings of fruits and/or vegetables per day. Once you think of all the nutrition you can add, take away the extra sweets or fried foods.
  • Be specific: "I want to start exercising." How will you increase your physical activity? Set the number of days per week and the duration of exercise. You can increase the frequency and length once you achieve your goal. 
    • For example, start off with walking for 10 minutes a day during your lunch break, three days a week. Increase your exercise towards five days a week for 30 minutes. 
  • Be flexible: Toss the "all or nothing" mindset. Your goals can change over time. Twelve months is a long time to push your resolutions aside. Setting goals each month will allow you to track your progress or set new ambitions.
    • Recognize circumstances can change throughout the year. Your schedule or an injury may interrupt a daily work out. You can shift your goals to balanced meal planning, which still supports your overall goal to lose weight. 
  • Be patient: Progress takes time. Your goals may not change instantly overnight (if only it was that simple). Goals that are worthwhile are worth the hard effort. 
    • If you stray from your meal plan, do not beat yourself up. Accept and recognize the challenge and create a plan to get back on track with your next meal. 
  • Be supportive: Support yourself and others for making changes for the better. Surround yourself with people who will inspire your new goals and offer the same positive support to others in return. 
    • Find friends and family with similar interests. Meet new friends at a local wellness fair or at the gym. Set a walking date or make a schedule to attend the same group exercise class each week. 
  • Be kind: Remember to be kind to others as you start the New Year. Be grateful for your experiences and the people in your life. Spend time with loved ones and discover ways to give back to your community. You can learn from helping others in need. 
    • Volunteer opportunities are everywhere in your area such as helping out a local youth group, fundraising for an organization, donating time or supplies to a food bank, or helping to support a family devastated by a medical diagnosis.  

Recognize challenges. If you set the same goal each year without success, take a step back and reflect about what is stopping this goal from being achieved.

Make your goals important to you. Share your optimistic intentions with your friends and family. Don't sit around waiting for tomorrow; take the time for yourself and your health today!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Be Present

The holidays. Some consider this the most wonderful time of year. Others bring out their inner Grinch. Sometimes, I feel like I fluctuate between the two.

As I reflect on the simple traditions of my small family, I realize I enjoy the lack of present exchange among my family members. Less pressure, saves money and avoids holiday crowds. I place greater value in spending time with family and friends. 

Over the past several years working in a cancer center has brought a new perspective to my life. I have the pleasure of witnessing true strength, compassion and love of humans. Seeing the important "things" in life and learning that the best things aren't ever things - they're people. Relationships. Memories. Experiences. 

I choose to believe people are good. People want to help others. Help during the holidays doesn't always mean purchasing a meaningless gift off a desired list. Sometimes it can be as simple as a smile or a shoulder to cry on. Help ultimately depends on the person and that moment in time. 

Don't just give presents this season. Be present.

Try to be present in your day. Enjoy each precious moment. Regardless of religion, celebrate the spirit of life. Do not take life for granted. Be present in your relationships with others and the relationship with yourself. When you see your significant other, family member or best friend, spend time with each other. Whether you see this person nearly every minute of the day or rarely, put your technology away. I mean spend REAL time with each other. Talk. Listen. Look. Complain about life. Giggle at something silly and inappropriate. Be present. Engage in a meaningful relationship. Next time you're waiting in line at the store or train, stand there. Resist the temptation to check your email or look at the last social media post. Look around you. Perhaps say "hi" to the person next to you and wish them a "happy holiday." Think. Breathe. Be present. 

What do the holidays mean to you?