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Off on the Right Foot

 

Did you include better health in your New Year’s resolutions?

Health experts at Baystate Health suggest setting realistic goals and prioritizing what is most important to you, taking small steps, and remembering not to beat yourself up if you encounter a setback in your health goals for 2024. Here are three goals to consider as you continue on your journey:

 

Improve Your Blood Sugars

From Dr. Cecilia Lozier, chief of the Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Baystate Health:

There are three important approaches to improve your blood-sugar numbers as we start the new year. First, moderate your carbohydrate intake. No dramatic approach is needed. If before you would take two scoops of potatoes, now consistently take one and fill the empty space with non-starchy vegetables.

Dr. Cecilia Lozier

Dr. Cecilia Lozier

“Moderate your carbohydrate intake. No dramatic approach is needed. If before you would take two scoops of potatoes, now consistently take one and fill the empty space with non-starchy vegetables.”

Second, increase your physical activity. Using your muscles will push sugar into your cells and out of your bloodstream. The more you move and are physically active, the better your numbers will look. Third, modest weight loss. Losing between 5% and 10% of your body weight will have a dramatic impact on how you metabolize sugar. Speak with your healthcare provider to personalize this approach for you.

 

Address Sleep Problems

From Dr. Karin Johnson, medical director, Baystate Health Regional Sleep Program and Baystate Medical Center Sleep Laboratory, Baystate Health:

Stress levels are higher today in the world we live in. While stress can make sleeping well more challenging, it is important to prioritize sleep, which is necessary for health and well-being. Most adults function best with seven to eight hours of sleep, and teenagers need around nine hours.

Good-quality sleep is important for preventing infections and keeping your immune system working well. Studies have shown that sleep-deprived people don’t mount the same immune response after vaccinations as good sleepers, so it is important to make sure you get a good night’s sleep prior to getting a flu or COVID vaccine, for example.

Keeping a regular sleep schedule will allow your body’s internal clock to help you get the best night’s sleep. If you are having difficulty sleeping or show signs of poor-quality sleep with loud snoring, difficulty staying asleep, urinating frequently at night, or daytime sleepiness or tiredness, you may benefit from a sleep-medicine evaluation.

 

Control Your Weight

From Eliana Terry, registered dietitian, Baystate Noble Hospital:

Is your New Year’s resolution to eat healthier, exercise more, or achieve another health-related goal? The new year brings with it the opportunity to start on a path toward wellness or, if you’ve already done so, to maintain healthy habits. However, it can be difficult to make these goals stick with all the challenges the year throws our way. What is the best way to be successful in achieving your health resolutions? Consider the following.

• Be specific with your goals. Instead of ‘I will eat healthier,’ consider something like ‘I will replace four sodas per week with water.’ Setting a more specific goal can help you actually check whether you have completed the goal each day and, thus, be successful long-term.

• Make sure your goals are measurable. If your goal is weight loss, for example, set a measurable amount with a time frame to reach your goal by. For example, ‘I want to lose 10 pounds by April 2024’ and ‘exercise for 30 minutes, three times per week’ are more measurable goals than ‘lose weight this year.’

• Make your goals realistic for you. For example, if you travel daily for work, ‘no longer eat on the go’ as a resolution may be unrealistic for your lifestyle. You may find yourself giving up by February if you have purchased any meals out. This hinders any progress you could have made in a longer period. Instead, try a more realistic and flexible goal such as ‘pack a healthy lunch to keep in a cooler four times per week.’

Set yourself up for success this year with specific, measurable, realistic resolutions. Otherwise, you may find yourself quickly frustrated by your inability to stick to and achieve your goals.