Every year many people make it a goal to lose weight, join a gym and drop a few pounds. But according to Dr. Kristine Arthur, MD, internist at MemorialCare Medical Group in Laguna Woods, there are many more New Year's health resolutions we should be making. "Health should be a priority for all of us. Poor health makes it much more difficult to reach other New Year's resolutions and goals such as succeeding at work, getting a promotion, being a great parent or spouse or trying new activities, sports, hobbies, etc," she told us. Read her 8 tips below for health goals that should move up the list on our 2022's priorities—counting down from Number Eight to Number One—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Start Reading Food Labels
"The government recently made changes to make them more easy to read," Dr. Arthur states. "Try to avoid processed foods as much as possible. In other words, if you cannot pronounce an ingredient, don't buy it. Look for fresh fruits, veggies, lean meats, fish and whole grains. Make it a goal to get at least 30 minutes of some type of physical activity every day. If you don't want to actually join a gym other things also count like walking or riding a bike to work, parking in the farthest parking spot or going up and down the stairs on a lunch break. Using a pedometer can give you an idea of how much you really move. Set a goal to take 10,000 steps every day."
Take a Break From Social Media
According to Dr. Arthur, "More and more studies are showing the negative side effects of using social media daily. It not only prevents us from interacting with actual humans on a day to day basis but can cause anxiety and depression. If this seems like an impossible task, start with a small goal like putting your phone and computer aside for 30 minutes daily. Make it a point to do something else that you enjoy. Make it a point for dinners with family or friends to be phone free. Most importantly, for good quality sleep, turn off all electronics at least 30 minutes before bed and keep them at least 2-3 feet away from where you sleep."
Meet With Your Doctor at Least Once a Year
"Know your health history and stay up to date on preventative care," Dr. Arthur states. "Do you know when you last saw a doctor? If someone asked you what health problems you have had in the past would you know? You should know if any of your tests have been abnormal in the past and if you need to do any follow up tests. No news is not always good news and you cannot assume that just because you didn't hear back about a test in the past that it was normal. If you moved or changed doctors call for your old records and bring them to your next appointment. Your new doctor will be very pleased! Check if any vaccinations are overdue (like tetanus) or if you need a PAP smear (usually every 3 years if they have been normal)."
Limit Your Alcohol Intake
"Many Americans are drinking too much alcohol – particularly women – who are not able to drink as much as men. This may not seem fair but it is true. Excess alcohol can lead to liver failure, cancer, infertility and affects work and relationships negatively," Dr. Arthur explains. "The MAX per day for men is two drinks and for women it is one. Keep in mind that one standard drink is a 12 ounce beer, 5 ounces of wine or a 1.5 ounce shot of hard liquor. Many wine glasses hold more than 5 ounces. If you aren't sure how much you are drinking, keep a journal for one month of every drink you have and see where you are at the end of the month. It can be eye opening. Ask servers at restaurants and bars what size wine and beer glasses they serve."
Get to Your BMI Goal
Dr. Arthur says, "Almost everyone has had some type of resolution that includes eating better, losing weight or exercising more but what exactly does that mean? How do you know what your weight should be? Instead of guessing that you should lose 10 lbs, be more specific. Find out what your BMI (body mass index) is and set a goal to get it in the healthy range. You can calculate it simply on the internet using a BMI calculator. A healthy number is between 18.5 and 234.9. Anything over 25 is overweight and over 30 is obese. Under 18.5 is underweight."
Finding one thing that brings you happiness is a goal Dr. Arthur believes we should all have. "Make a resolution that simply makes you happy this year. Many resolutions can be stressful or feel like work. Pick at least one that is just for you. Maybe it's learning a new hobby or sport, taking a class or saving enough money to go on a vacation. It can be as simple as setting aside a time every week that is just for you. As long as it is something that makes you happy and relaxes you, that is what matters because in the end resolutions are meant to make us better, healthier and happier people."
Dr. Arthur says, "There are literally no more excuses! You know how bad it is for your health and we have options (covered by insurance) to help you stop. If you think you need help to stop, ask your doctor for options like a patch or pills that can help stop the craving. Set a stop date, throw away all cigarettes and lighters and stick to the plan. Also be wary of cigarette alternatives that may not be healthy for you particularly if you have any underlying lung disease like asthma."
Continue to Take COVID Very Seriously
Experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci predict COVID will never "go away" for good, which means you must remain vigilant. Besides avoiding large gatherings and wearing an N95 mask, one thing you can do is be keenly aware of your symptoms and quarantine and test if they strike. "The COVID-19 disease course is incredibly diverse, ranging from completely asymptomatic infection to acute respiratory distress syndrome to thrombotic events such as a heart attack or a stroke to multiorgan failure," says Dr. Meghan A. May, M.S., Ph.D. Professor – Microbiology and Infectious Diseases University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine Center of Excellence for Public Health. "The general pattern followed by patients is of mild, subtle symptoms at the onset of disease such as fatigue, mild diarrhea, headache, and loss of sensory functions such as taste and smell, but it is important to note that not all patients experience all of these symptoms." And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.