Goals for a Healthy New Year

It’s the time of year when many people think about New Year’s resolutions.

We would like to capture this holiday spirit and inspire some ideas to help you focus on your health! Dr. Liz Baltaro, primary care provider at Granville Primary Care, Butner-Creedmoor, discusses some ideas for you to consider when setting your goals for the new year.

If you want to achieve your goals, it’s important to focus on one specific behavior change at a time. Unfortunately, many goals fail because they are not realistic and lack accountability. Rather than focusing on a vague goal such as “lose weight,” “exercise more” or “quit smoking,” it’s best to consider specific behaviors that will move you toward these goals. Once you have a specific goal in mind, share it— with friends, family and even your doctor— this will help you stay in track.

Below I’ve listed some ideas — I hope to help kick your New Year’s resolutions off to a great start!

Tip #1 Get 150 Minutes of Activity Weekly

Most of us aren’t getting the recommended exercise we need. There are so many benefits of activity including better mood, sleep, heart health and preventing falls. In order to achieve significantly better health, the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and AHA (American Heart Association) recommend a minimum of 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate activity or 75 minutes (1.25 hours) of vigorous activity every week. That’s only 11-20 minutes of exercise daily.

If 150 minutes seems like a stretch for you, you could make your goal to start with less and work your way up to more. Even 30 minutes of activity is better than none! Consider joining a gym, getting a personal trainer, contacting our local senior center— or even simple things like parking your car further away and taking the stairs.

Tip #2 Eat Out Two or Less Times Per Week

The average American eats out 4-5 times per week! Fast and convenience foods like chips/ sandwiches are often full of hidden salt, fat and calories. You will eat much healthier (and save money) by planning most of your meals and snacks at home. If you are really busy, consider cooking two big pots like a soup or stew with beans and vegetables, and a pan of roasted or baked meat or fish with vegetables. Then you can alternate these meals for 4 nights and eat leftovers for lunch. Quick healthy snacks include: hummus, salad greens, carrots, cucumber, celery, fruit (fresh or dried), nuts or nut butters, oatmeal, whole wheat bread, Greek yogurt and cheese sticks.

Tip #3 Double Your Non-Starchy Vegetables

Besides being low in calories, non-starchy vegetables have many health benefits. They are high in fiber, vitamins and anti-oxidants which fight against cancer and disease. Non-starchy vegetables include almost all vegetables except potatoes and corn. Dark green vegetables like spinach, kale, collards, beet or turnip greens, broccoli and green beans are some of the healthiest! Frozen or fresh vegetables are better than canned ones. We especially like frozen greens because they are quick and easy to add to meals, and require little preparation.

Tip #4 If You Smoke, Call 1-800-Quit-Now

If you don’t smoke (great!), please think about sharing this hotline with somebody you know who might use it. Nationally 1 in 5 Americans smoke, but locally our rates are higher. And it’s no surprise that local cancer, lung and heart disease are higher too. 1-800-Quit-Now is a 24-7 hotline with professional help to advise on quitting smoking or chewing (or vaping) products. Quitting smoking is so hard! Most people are not successful without a specific plan, and help from things like nicotine replacement or medications. Sometimes there are grant funds available for people to receive a free sample of nicotine patches. We often advise our patients to consider all the help they can get including medications, nicotine patches and lozenges/ gums.

We have so many other inspirational ideas for New Years goals too— like engaging in hobbies such as reading, music, spiritual practices, expressing gratitude, and doing things that help you smile more. Just remember to try to set goals that are as specific as possible, and share your goals with other people. Don’t beat yourself up if you lose track— make a new plan for how you’ll try to change. Wishing you a healthy and happy New Year!

Dr. Liz Baltaro and Dr. Amy Nayo are primary care physicians expanding community access to quality pediatric and family medicine at Granville Primary Care, Butner-Creedmoor, located at 1614 NC Highway 56, Butner. To schedule your primary care appointment, please call 919-575-6103 or schedule online at ghshospital.org. You can schedule a primary care appointment with a provider as far as 12 months in advance through online scheduling.