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This is it, 2013. The year all your meals are healthy, you exercise every day, you lose the extra pounds, you get your stress under control, and you quit smoking, right?
Hold on. Those are all admirable goals, but try to tackle everything at once and you’ll burn out within weeks, left with nothing but a wilted head of lettuce in your fridge and an unused gym membership. To build healthy habits that stick, Tena Patterson, MD, a family medicine specialist on the medical staff at Baylor Medical Center at Garland, offers these tips.
A diet—following a strict eating plan for a fixed length of time—will likely work while it lasts. But afterward, most people return to their old ways of eating, and regain the pounds they shed. Instead, you need to regularly reach for plums instead of potato chips and seltzer instead of soda.
To lose weight, you need to know which calories to cut, whether they’re in the bagel left behind in the conference room or the scraps your kids didn’t finish. Keep a food journal for a week or so and see where your problem areas lie, then trim those extra calories.
A serving of meat should be the size of your palm, and a starch should be the size of your fist.
Most people have full schedules, so exercise comes at the expense of something else. Make it less of a sacrifice by upping the fun factor with exercise DVDs, games such as Wii Fit or workouts with a buddy. Or, find something you like doing—maybe biking or a dance class—so you look forward to it.
Stress can sabotage your good-health efforts, so watch for symptoms such as headaches, back pain or anxiety. Exercise, hot tubs, saunas, massage therapy, faith, mediation and laughter can help keep the effects of stress at bay.
No matter how long you’ve smoked, when you quit you begin to add years to your life. Many people succeed after six attempts at quitting, so keep trying. Slowly decrease your cigarettes by not smoking in your car or at meals, to start.
To learn more about setting healthy goals, talk to your doctor. For a referral to a physician on the Baylor Garland medical staff, call 1.800.4BAYLOR or find a physician online.
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