Why Your Healthy New Year’s Resolutions Are So Important

By Dr. Kwame Foucher, senior medical director, UnitedHealthcare of Illinois
Edited by Lawndale Bilingual Newspaper

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - HealthEvery year, millions of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, especially to exercise more, eat better and improve their health. However, many resolutions end in failure, with more than half of Americans giving up on their vows by the second week of February. But setting goals to maintain or improve your health is more than just a turn-of-the-year obligation – it could mean the difference between a long life and a premature death. Studies show 80 percent or more of premature chronic conditions, such as heart attack, stroke or diabetes, are caused by modifiable lifestyle choices, as opposed to being caused by genetic factors. Yet many Americans lack an understanding of the connection between lifestyle choices and chronic health conditions. A recent UnitedHealthcare survey found that 23 percent of Americans correctly recognized that 80 percent or more of premature chronic conditions are caused by modifiable lifestyle choices, such as risk factors like smoking or obesity, not genetics. With that in mind, here are five steps to encourage a healthier lifestyle for 2018:

Think About and Set Your Goals
Assess your overall health and well-being, and identify an actionable area for improvement, like your daily diet or your weekly physical activity levels. You are ready for a healthier change, so set realistic and measureable goals. For example:

  • quit smoking;
  • get your annual physical or wellness exam;
  • take a 30-minute walk each day and avoid long periods of sitting;
  • eat more fruits and vegetables; and
  • reduce your calorie intake by 100 calories per day.
  • Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - HealthRevisit Your Goals Weekly
    Like life, this plan of action can change, so it’s important to revisit or even revise your goals each week. In fact, revisiting your goals may help you achieve them. And remember to track your progress so you can remind yourself that you are making positive changes and reaching milestones.

    Reward Your Accomplishments
    You’re working hard, so go ahead and treat yourself to something you enjoy that does not conflict with your plan and goals, such as buying a new piece of workout apparel or purchasing a new song for your smartphone. Rewarding yourself as you reach short-term goals may help keep you motivated to stay on your path.

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