Dr. Jose Carneiro's fence has been asking for some tender loving care for a while, and there are a few other small and not so small household repairs he has been brushing aside…but he has resolved that his health will not share the luck of his fence.
So, when it came the time for the ritual of making New Year's resolutions…
"I decided I will take good care of myself in 2006 and for years to come," said Dr. Carneiro, Director of the Office of Minority Health Resource Center (OMHRC). "I will drink at least seven glasses of water, cut down on coffee, drink more tea - especially green tea - and try to cut back on sugar. I already started."
The time to make those New Year's resolutions is here for all of us, and one of the resolutions is to make the resolutions stick this year, since they didn't in many years past. But experts always say that the small steps approach is the best when it comes to attaining success in keeping up with your self imposed changes.
Our Resource Center is a microcosm of America, not only for its diversity, but for its devotion to New Year's resolutions. It looks like most of us have taken the incremental approach.
That New Year's Eve was a blast! You drank yourself silly, ate till you ached, talked up a storm, and gave many thanks for your beautiful family, the good year that you were leaving behind, the many promises the new one brings… and the fact that the holidays are over.
But as January rolls on, you find yourself sliding back into your old routines, and all those bright and shiny New Year's resolutions go by the wayside. Probably because you think that becoming a new healthier you in every aspect of life requires a huge amount of discipline and work.
Then, think again.
Asian philosophy is very good at this millenarian view of things: 'A journey of a hundred miles starts with one small step'.
That's why Dr. Carneiro began by reducing the portions on his plate. "One can't take away everything, because that's too radical… One needs time to adjust. But I have found it easy to control my portions."
"I have also devised strategies to force myself to walk. I park as far as possible from the entrance - and always find parking spaces - and I take the stairs instead of the elevator… Even one flight of stairs helps on the long run."
Dr. Carneiro calls this "a treat to your heart," and he adds a few more goodies to it, such as a nice night's sleep of at least eight hours. "We need to allow our system to rejuvenate overnight. This all helps to keep your mind in pristine shape. And, if sleeping well is an issue for you, try avoiding violent movies right before bedtime, take the TV out of the bedroom, and let go of your hang ups… they literally weigh you down."
Being realistic could go a long way to make New Year's resolutions work. You probably wrote a laundry list of things you would like to see changed in yourself and your surroundings, but the length of that list may be your worst enemy. Instead, pick two or three resolutions - combine a big one with two smaller ones - and work on those. Remember, success breeds success, so if you accomplish a couple of 2006's resolutions, you'll be more inclined to work hard on 2007's.
Also, again, take the long view of things. You want to lose weight, but you didn't put those extra 60 pounds in a day, so you won't lose them that fast either. What you need for all of your resolutions is a plan.
Next to those resolutions, write down how you plan to stick to them. That will give you a reality check. "Get back in shape" sounds terrific; until you put down exactly how you are planning to do it. When it comes to the steps to that goal, you will have to come up with a sensible plan… unless you are ready to starve.
"I want to lose weight, and I want to solve several health issues next year," said another OMHRC staffer. "That's why I'm making my vision appointment this week, right before the year ends, so I know I'll have to go."
"On the weight front, I'm changing the diet slightly, by adding a bit more protein and veggies, and cutting back on carbs. I will stop baking all those holiday goodies! I will keep exercising and add some more walking and keep the eye on the ball… which for me means thinking about the cute swimming suits I want to wear next summer," she said. "My game plan is to write down everything I eat, because I know that will give me an idea of how much extra stuff I gobble down."
And if you have some extra weight, or even if you don't, did you make time last year to get a check up to see if your blood pressure and cholesterol levels are fine? Get tested for diabetes and HIV? Did you get a mammogram, a pap smear? Did you visit the dentist? Are you on Medicare? Have you heard about the new prescription drug benefit? Well, did you write that down already on your New Year's resolutions list???
Healthier behaviors are always at the top of the list for most people, and given the circumstances in our country today, losing weight is also a top priority, but there are many strategies and a new Pyramid to help you out.
It's not as cumbersome as it seems.
"In an effort to reduce the amount of fast food I was consuming on any given Sunday...during Lent of 2005 I made a pledge to not eat at fast food restaurants (any chain with a drive through) for 45 days," said a coworker.
"Quite remarkably, I continued my pledge through the end of the year...January 01, 2006, Sunday, I am allowing myself to have fast food (day 45). All that to say that my continued resolution for the New Year is to have a healthier diet all around in part by only eating at fast food restaurants every 45 days."
A young woman at the office also wants to lose some weight, so she just joined a fitness franchise, which she finds affordable and well tailored to her needs. "It's three times a week, it's manageable, and I can deal with that. I'm also upping my protein intake. And will keep getting my regular check ups every six months. I will also learn to drive… now that I don't live in New York anymore."
Our receptionist wants to stop smoking. "I will stay around my kids more, since I won't smoke when they are around. I do it when I'm stressed out and bored, so I will work on the root causes of it."
"My resolution for the New Year is to drink more water!" said a department manager. "I will accomplish this by purchasing bottled water and bringing it to work so I will not be tempted to continue to keep drinking sodas."
Probably we all will make a collective resolution to bring healthier goodies to share at the office… Yeah, right!