Ana Ibarra Health

Health-related resolutions for 2015

We are only two weeks into 2015, and most of us have already broken our New Year’s resolutions.

If you have not given in, congratulations. If you have, believe me, you are not alone.

I’m a fan of the New Year’s resolutions tradition. I love welcoming each new year with a list of goals and objectives, but keeping the same level of enthusiasm throughout the year is hard, especially when it comes to health-related resolutions.

As I made my own list of goals (which includes being more active on this blog), I became curious as to what kind of health-improvement goals others were making. I’ve read other blogs and magazines articles, I’ve talked to friends and family, and I’ve compiled a short list of some of the most popular resolutions I have heard and read about.

1. Losing weight

This probably comes as no surprise. I am sure everyone knows at least one person who is not content with their weight. People will attempt diets and start gym memberships. The challenging part is to keep motivated. I asked friends what their plans to keep that motivation were, and the best two answers I heard were: keep realistic expectations and have a work out buddy for some friendly competition. I think the buddy system or finding a local group to work out with can be really encouraging. Locally, you can find running clubs and free Zumba classes to help you achieve those healthy exercise habits.

2. Quit smoking

Smoking is known to increase the risk of cancer, lung diseases, heart attacks and strokes. But if you’re a smoker, you’ve most likely heard this dozens of times. Quitting smoking is obviously not going to happen from one day to another. For long-term success, the American Cancer Society suggests that people create a plan and time line. Just like in your quest to work out more, the most motivating way to quit smoking that I can think of is a support group. For more information on local help, click here.

3. Getting more sleep

Getting more sleep sounds like it would interfere with your goal of being more productive. But according to a publication by Harvard Medical School, getting enough sleep can help with learning and memory, weight loss, ability to concentrate, and it can help cut stress. Lack of sleep has been linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke.

4. Visit your doctor regularly

In October of last year, I met Dr. Dortha Chu, a breast surgeon in Merced. She presented a breast health seminar as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. She spoke about the importance of yearly mammograms for women of age 40 and up, as well as breast exams about every three years for women in their 20s and 30s. Regular checkups of any type should be the norm, and I’ve heard this from my personal doctors all my life. But as a representative of the “young adult” population, I know it is very easy to disregard annual check ups when we feel fine. When I expressed this to Dr. Chu, she said she knows this is how most young people think, but said she couldn’t stress preventive care enough. Visiting your doctor on a more regular basis is probably a good thing to have in mind this year.