MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

January 14, 2013

Make 2013 your healthiest year yet

By Lisa Wade Raasch
Guest Columnist

— How would it feel if 2013 became the year you met, or made huge progress, toward your health goals?

Maybe you set a health-related New Year's resolution that you've already given up on it. Maybe you didn't set a resolution at all.

Join me on Jan. 26 for a free workshop that can help you make 2013 your Best (and healthiest) Year Yet. The workshop will take place from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the Muskogee Swim & Fitness Center, 566 North Sixth Street.

Research shows that losing even 5 percent to 10 percent of our body weight can have significant benefits for our health.

These health benefits can include reducing the risk of Type II diabetes, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure; improving sleep, breathing and mobility; reducing aches and pains; lowering the need for certain medications; and decreasing the risk of sudden death from heart disease or stroke.

For a 250-pound person, that would mean losing 13 to 25 pounds could make a meaningful difference and be a great start toward a healthier future.

Fundamentally, we know we can get there if we eat better and move more.

That's easy to say, but often harder to do.

Consider these four steps to help you succeed in your personal health goals this year:

• Identify what gets in the way of reaching your goals.

What prevents you from improving your health in 2013?

Take a moment to seriously consider this. Write a list of all the things that you believe stand in the way of a healthier future.

Few of us consciously choose to want a belly that laps over our belt or extra pounds that put our health in jeopardy.

For some of us it might be mindless snacking while watching TV or eating huge portion sizes. For others it might be not carving out time for exercise or not creating consistency in our healthy routines.

By identifying what stands in the way of better health, we can more easily devise strategies to overcome the obstacles, rather than let them trip us up again.

• Identify what has worked for you in the past.

Chances are, at some point in your life you have improved your health.

How did you do it? What did you learn then that could help you succeed now?

Perhaps exercising first thing in the morning and taking a healthy lunch to work was key to past health success.

For some people, joining a group like TOPS (Taking Off Pounds Sensibly) or Weight Watchers helped them stay motivated. For others, tracking calories and activity on a smartphone app like Lose It! was a recipe for success.

For others, a personal trainer, group fitness class or an exercise buddy motivated and held them accountable.

The combination of identifying what has worked in the past and recognizing potential barriers can support us in creating and committing to lasting health goals.

• Set sensible goals and develop a plan to achieve them.

If you were to make 2013 your healthiest year yet, what would that look like? What major change would you like to see for yourself?

Whether you have your eye on a big goal like to lose 50-plus pounds or complete a half-marathon, or daily lifestyle and habit changes like avoiding sugary drinks or eating more fruits and vegetables, the more specific you can be the better.

Specificity can make it easier to follow your plan and hold yourself accountable for consistent progress toward your goals.

Remember though that progress on your health doesn't happen in a vacuum. When you integrate health goals with other personal goals, your chances of success improve.

• Track and celebrate your success.

Tracking your progress holds you accountable and raises your awareness for what you are, or aren't, doing to support your goals.

Likewise, celebrating even small successes can help us maintain momentum.

If drinking eight glasses of water each day is a big accomplishment for you, then celebrate it. (Preferably, not with a cupcake.)

Find ways to build in non-food rewards so you have something to look forward to in addition to feeling and looking better.

Healthy living is a journey that can allow us to add more years to our lives, and more life to our years.

If you would like support in setting and tracking health and wellness goals that fit with the rest of your life, join me for the free Best Year Yet workshop on Saturday, January 26. Space is limited. Email me at lisa@muskogeewellness.org today to reserve your seat.

Lisa Wade Raasch coordinates the Muskogee Wellness Initiative and directs the EOK Health Care Coalition. She is also a certified Best Year Yet coach and trainer.