What do I appreciate about New Year’s Resolutions? So many of the more popular ones focus on health. Just look at these examples from Patch.com:
Self-care (e.g. getting more sleep)
Focus more on appearance
Cut down on cigarettes/alcohol
Apart from reading books specifically on health and wellness, even those popular resolutions that are not necessarily healthrelated are indirectly linked to mental and physical fitness.Read more books
Learn a new skill
Get a new job
Make new friends
Few would argue that you increase your chance of starting and keeping up with something new if you’re living a healthy lifestyle. Nevertheless, am I surprised at the demise of the New Year’s Resolution? No. There’s more to implementing change than flipping a calendar page.
For those who find success with your annual resolutions, I applaud you. We all do. Much has been written about the advantages of aligning “new” with “new.” For example, the start of a new school year always brings about significant, manageable changes in schedules and responsibilities and we always seem to pull those off. But for many, the optimism that surrounds the holiday season can quickly revert to “same old/same old” in a matter of days or weeks.
For those of us who ultimately find that our resolve starts to wane after the Baby New Year metaphorically starts teething, another approach may be more effective.
I turned to Physicians Regional’s Dr. Andrea Bickerton, a board-certified Family Medicine physician who works at our Pebblebrooke clinic. Dr. Bickerton’s philosophy — “any step forward is better than no step at all” — seems much more practical for many of us. She understands that most people can’t change their entire life overnight and works with patients to set goals they can keep and build upon over time.
A graduate of the Howard University College of Medicine and a Louisiana native, Dr. Bickerton suggests: “I don’t think positive change has to correspond with the New Year. If you want to make a change — and you understand it’s important to your health — you’re just as likely to do it on February 13th as you are on January 1st. ‘Resolve’ is more important than ‘resolution.’”
For those of us who may become overwhelmed trying to take on too much, Dr. Bickerton keeps it simple: “Be gentle with yourself. Just make one change and stick to it.” Once that change becomes a habit (i.e., replacing carbonated beverages with water), then you can more easily move on to the next goal on your list. As Dr. Bickerton says, “Small changes add up to big changes.”
Since your primary care physician may not always be within earshot, Dr. Bickerton also understands the support of friends and family, especially if any of these people are working alongside you on their lifestyle improvements. “There is something about being accountable to someone else — for example, having an exercise buddy. If you are going to hurt someone else’s progress, you’re more likely to stick to it and vice versa.”
Dr. Bickerton even pointed me toward the HINTS FROM HELOISE newspaper column and Heloise’s patented “make do” attitude on personal health.
The distinguished advice columnist suggests that people lose momentum out of fear of failure. “Don’t let anyone shame you into thinking, ‘you must go to the gym’ or ‘you must walk 10,000 steps a day.’ You must do the best that YOU can do.” And Heloise’s mantra? “Any movement is better than no movement. For example, if you’re watching TV and a commercial comes on, get up and move around or march in place.”
For decades, Heloise has been all about helping people discover their power by being resourceful — and she’s certainly not big on making excuses: “Sit on your couch and pretend you’re hitting a boxing bag. Try that for 3-4 minutes and see if you don’t feel it.” She even recommends that we get our body moving by doing “snow angels” in bed in the morning or by filling up a milk jug with water and using it as a dumbbell.
As the Market CEO of Physicians Regional Healthcare System, I have personally seen the benefits of this “do what you can” method. Even the tiniest “win” can have life-changing implications. For example, imagine how you would feel the day your blood pressure is finally lower, or you no longer require a medication you have taken for five years.
That’s not just a resolution — that’s a revolution.
To schedule an appointment Dr. Andrea Bickerton call 239-348-4221 or visit us online at www.physiciansregionalmedicalgroup.com.