Saturday, January 19, 2019

Just Be Resolute

To Your Health


What happened to New Year’s Resolutions? What was once the ultimate year-end rite-of-passage seems to have faded with time.

I understand that many of us have failed over the years in our attempts to improve. Not only does it seem that New Year’s resolutions have been on the decline but joking about failed resolutions seems to have increased. For some, making jokes is a common reaction to disappointment and failure.

What do I like about the tradition of New Year’s resolutions? As the Market CEO of Physicians Regional Healthcare System, I support any activity that encourages healthy living. Considering many of the most popular resolutions are health related, I’d like to see New Year’s resolutions make a comeback and take center stage once again.

For example, many of us resolve to eat better, lose weight, stop smoking and/or exercise more. Still, others resolve to finally have that long overdue physical, colonoscopy or cardiac stress test. All are commendable—and often necessary—goals.

Part of the issue may be the unnecessary pressure we place on January 1. The first day of any year is a new beginning, but there’s no reason you can’t begin to work on yourself TODAY. The flipping of a calendar page may not be enough motivation for some to stick with their goals so, seriously, what are you really waiting for?

Let’s look at my friend, Bob. A smoker since the age of 15, Bob had resolved to quit on January 1, 1989, 1990, 1991 and so forth. As of 2018—and despite repeated warnings from his physicians—he had been smoking for 40 years.

As usual, January 1, 2018, came and went and Bob was still—in his words—”at the mercy of a pack of Marlboros.” He no longer “resolved” to quit each year as the concept seemed impossible.

On February 17, 2018, Bob woke up as usual. He walked out on his lanai—had a cup of coffee and a cigarette—and walked away. Literally and figuratively. There was no fanfare, no special date. There was no list of healthy living goals staring him in the face. He quit “cold turkey.”

“I had been nauseated a lot for a few weeks and smoking had become unpleasant, so I walked away,” Bob explained. “I think it was the lack of deadline pressure that helped me. I didn’t do it for my family or my friends; I did it for me.”

Though Bob admits to having a very supportive group of doctors at Physicians Regional, and he’s typically inquisitive whenever medical issues are involved, he did nothing to prepare.

“In hindsight, I wish I had talked to my primary care physician (PCP) in advance, but I’m grateful for the spontaneity of it all, too. I had no idea what withdrawal from 40 years of smoking was going to do to me,” he said. “Thankfully, when I needed my PCP the next day, she thoughtfully guided me through what lay ahead.”

Bob also received a tip from a friend that he subsequently shared with his PCP. He downloaded an app called QuitNow! The app has helped more than two million quitters to date and the in-app health indicators are based on World Health Organization (WHO) data.

“I pretty much knew how much money I spent on cigarettes,” he says. “Of course, we tend to think about small numbers when we talk about smoking. I smoke ‘one’ or ‘two’ packs per day. However, the app provides a running total of the number of individual ‘cigarettes avoided.’ I have avoided 8,915 cigarettes since I quit. It’s impossible to ignore that number—it’s very powerful. Whenever I think I want a cigarette now, I check the app for the latest total.”

And all of this happened because Bob chose to “resolve”—to be “resolute”—in February and not January.

Since that date, Bob has kicked it up a few notches, too. His successful transformation from smoker to non-smoker has inspired a newfound focus on healthy living. “In 2019, I have resolved to eat better, exercise more and lose weight. However, this time, I’m taking advantage of all my resources—most notably my PCP, gastroenterologist and cardiologist. I made a huge change for myself this past year and raised the bar pretty high for myself. However, as they say, onward and upward!”

If you can resolve to improve your health and use January 1 as a launching pad, that’s great. However, what’s most important is that you commit to taking care of yourself. Though I’d prefer you start that process today, I’ll take any day of any month. And if you need your friends at Physicians Regional Healthcare System to help you—we’re right up the road.

Happy New Year!

To find a doctor at our Marco Island and/or Collier Boulevard locations, visit PhysiciansRegionalMedicalGroup.com or call 239-348-4221 and we will assist you in making an appointment with a physician who meets your needs.

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