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The new year is fast approaching. 2023 is a new chance for a healthier you.
HOUSTON — The new year is an excellent opportunity to hit the reset button, so Carman H. Whiting, MD, medical director with UT Physicians Multispecialty – Sienna, offers three key tips for a healthier 2023.
Ready: Get An Annual Exam
For anyone who is not seeing a doctor at least once a year, now is the time to start.
“Regardless of age and health status, it’s important to have a regular health exam each year. This is to identify any health conditions you may not know you have. Detecting potential health conditions early will reduce the risk of complications later,” said Whiting, assistant professor of family medicine with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston.
Anyone who is perceivably young and healthy still needs to visit a doctor.
“Everyone should have an annual wellness exam, including teenagers,” Whiting said. “Wellness exams are focused on prevention, stressing the importance of proaction and not reaction as it relates to one’s health.”
Schedule a visit with a family medicine doctor or other primary care provider. Then set appointments for other routine exams, such as gynecological checkups, colonoscopies, or mammograms. Try to coordinate everything in the same month to make health care maintenance easier to remember.
Set: Set Specific and Measurable Goals
To start a healthier new lifestyle, it is best to skip the resolutions and set goals.
“I prefer goals because we tend to give up on our New Year’s resolutions if we fail right away. Goals are attainable, and they give us something to work towards,” Whiting said. “The key is to take steps to achieve your goals because eating and exercise habits don’t usually change overnight.”
To set a measurable goal, determine the starting point and ending point. Then plan specific actions to reach the desired outcome.
For example, a person who weighs 190 pounds can set a goal to weigh 150 pounds in six months. Three specific actions can be: walk one mile three days a week, eat a green salad for lunch three days a week, and replace soda, juice, and other sugary drinks with water.
Doctors can help patients set health goals and actions. Even if a goal is not met, any good progress counts.
Go: Exercise Regularly and Eat Wisely
It is always a good idea to start regular exercise, especially after the holidays.
“If you’d like to start an activity or a fitness program, choose an activity that you think you would enjoy so you stay with it,” Whiting said. “You can also add exercise to your normal errands in small, simple ways, so it doesn’t feel like too much.”
A half-hour of exercise five days a week or one hour of exercise three days a week is best, but it is all right to start with less. People can increase their workout intensity and frequency over time.
Also, welcome inconvenience in everyday activities. For example, park further away from a store’s front door or take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Because diet is also key to good health, start the new year with better food choices.
“Food is a lifestyle choice,” Whiting said. “Rather than telling my patients what they should or should not eat, I recommend they reduce the saturated fats in their diet, eliminate processed foods, increase vegetable and fresh fruit intake, and drink more water.”
To help control overeating, wait at least a few minutes before returning for second servings. This gives the mind time to register if the stomach is full. Also, prepare more meals at home to better control fat, additives, and portion sizes.
Whiting follows her own tips at the start of each new year.
“I have to remind myself to do many of these things,” Whiting said. “I don’t always succeed at all of my goals, but the idea is to make progress towards my goals and return to them if at first I fail. Even if only one or two healthy habits stick with you, you’re better off than where you started.”
To find and/or schedule an annual exam with a UT Physicians expert near you, visit UTPhysicians.com/Request-An-Appointment.
This is sponsored content from UT Physicians.