By Jeff Clemetson, Editor
New Years is a time for making changes in our lives. For many of us, it is a time to make the kinds of changes that will bring greater health to our lives. We here at Health and Fitness Talk encourage people to be the best they can be, but realize that making changes can sometimes be difficult. Our Resolutions Guide lists some of the most important health changes you can make for yourself along with tips on how to stick with them and get the best results for the whole year. This guide is also helpful if you haven’t yet chosen a resolution for the New Year and are looking for ideas to improve your health in 2014.
There are many resolutions that you can choose from to improve your health but none is as important to do and go through with than ending a harmful addiction. Smoking cigarettes, alcoholism, drug dependency and food addictions destroy your health in a way that no matter how many hours you spend in a gym, you will remain unhealthy and at risk for a wide variety of health problems.
Quitting smoking is one of the most popular resolutions people choose and fail at every year. Nicotine is a powerfully addictive drug and tobacco users fall into a cycles of smoking in times of stress and after meals, etc. The predictable nature of smoking craves makes it very hard to quit. There are now several prescription drugs that claim to curb cravings as well as nicotine delivery systems like the patch that have been around for decades and now there are the new e-cigarettes as well. Unfortunately, these only fortify your addiction to nicotine, leaving you vulnerable to smoking real cigarettes at any time. Health and Fitness Talk recommends using a cold turkey approach like the one described in Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking.
Alcoholism and drug addiction will not only ruin your health, but will likely ruin your relationships, job opportunities and can even land you in prison. If you suffer from alcohol or drug addiction, you must seek help. People can rarely, if ever, give up these types of addictions on their own. Rehab centers or 12-step programs are your best bet to get your life back from addiction
I am putting sugar addiction in this section, rather than in the next section on eating habits because many health and diet professionals believe it belongs here, listed beside cigarettes and drugs and alcohol. Recent studies have shown sugar to be as addictive as cocaine and for long-term health problems, just as dangerous. Breaking sugar addiction is even more difficult that quitting smoking because where smoking smells bad and tastes bad, sugary foods taste and smell good. Refined sugars are also in just about every kind of junk food imaginable – candies, sodas, fast-food hamburgers, etc. If you’ve ever craved a certain kind of food, it is likely the sugar that you are drawn to. The best way to quit sugar is to do a cleanse diet. Cleanse diets give you a minimum of healthy foods to live on for a period of time and then you slowly add other nourishing foods to your diet, minus the sugars you once craved. The idea is that as you add good foods, you appreciate them and enjoy them more after the restrictive cleanse diet and because you enjoy simple foods like vegetables more, you will find it easier to avoid junk foods.
Loosing weight through diet is a popular resolution and like we just discussed in ending sugar addiction, it can be very difficult. But to make a positive change in your eating habits, it doesn’t have to be drastic (unless you have a sugar addiction that is causing diabetes or morbid obesity, then drastic changes must be made). To make positive changes in eating right, you can take small steps by setting attainable goals for the New Year. Here are some examples that can get you started:
Quit junk food
Do you find your self in the chips isle at the supermarket too often? Do you regulary buy 2 liters of soda to keep at home? How often do you zip through a drive thru for lunch or dinner? Making the very simple decision to cut out all junk food from your diet will not only lead to weight loss but give you more energy throughout your day. As you replace processed foods with whole foods, your body just works and feels better.
Cook more meals
This simple goal forces you to eat more whole foods and less processed foods and also teaches you about food. The more you know about the ingredients you put in your body, the more aware you are of their benefits or drawbacks in your diet and overall health. Cooking also prepares you to handle the kinds of diets you may need when health issues arise, like if you come down with a gluten allergy. You won’t have to ask every waiter about the gluten in a restaurant’s menu if you prepare dinner yourself.
We all know the dangers of ingesting chemicals. But we often ignore the fact that a majority of our foods spend their growing years soaking in them or ingesting them before harvest. And now with GMO technology, these foods are being created for only that purpose – to be able to withstand growing in a pool of chemicals. Health and Fitness Talk highly recommends our readers to educate themselves on the difference between organic and chemical produce and meats. The cheap produce you buy now can end up costing you more later because of health problems like cancer or colitis.
Getting in shape is a resolution that almost everybody has entertained at one year or another. But looking around, it is obvious that not everyone has that workout body. That’s because changing exercise habits is one of the most difficult things to do, even for those who truly desire great health. According to Club Industry, around 67 percent of gym memberships never get used at all and around $39 a month is wasted from people underutilizing their gym memberships. It is obvious that gyms aren’t for everyone, but there are other fitness goals that are easier to achieve than the ones found in a gym culture that focuses on things like body fat percentages and muscle definitions such as six-pack abs, etc. Here are a few goals that will help you get more active in the New Year. And, who knows, maybe next New Years you will be ready for that gym membership.
Choose an activity you enjoy
This year I have decided to get back into mountain biking, My wife enjoys hiking. My sister is into jogging in the mornings. The point is that if you enjoy a physical activity, then your fitness goal should be simply to do it regularly or more often. Shooting hoops at the park, going to the swimming pool more often, roller skating – all these simple and enjoyable tasks will increase your heart rate and help you burn calories.
Time is the only number to pay attention to
Whatever you do for exercise, the most important aspect of it is the time you put into it. Exercise is beneficial even if it doesn’t cause you to shed 20 lbs in 6 weeks, so why worry about those numbers? Clear your schedule to allow as much time for exercise as possible and the rest will follow. Many people set unrealistic goals for what their workouts or exercise routines should do for their body and eventually get discouraged because they don’t see the results on the scale. They don’t see the big picture of what the physical activity is doing for their overall health and then start to do it less often. Whether you loose all the weight you want to or not, any amount of physical activity is a positive for your health.
Try new activities with a friend
If you already have some exercises that you do often and enjoy and are looking for even better fitness, choose a new one to enjoy. This can be very easy with the help of a friend. If your friend does yoga and you like to hike, you can do both together and gain a new fitness activity. Workout buddies also keep you motivated so you can jkeep your resolution throughout the year.
We hope this helps you have a more healthy 2014. Have a happy, healthy New Year everybody!