Wise Words – Healthy Resolutions

Submitted by Dr Becky Wise

As we come to the beginning of another year, it’s time for new resolutions again. The tradition is to mark New Year’s Day a new beginning with new promises. Traditionally, each person makes one promise for change for the year, and announces it publically. Saying it out loud makes you more likely to stick to it, and gives your audience the chance to help support you. This is important since only about 12% of people continue the resolution to success, and in fact, only 23% remember their resolutions by May. Some of the traditional goals include losing weight, getting out of debt, taking a trip, becoming more devout, and learning something new. These are often meant with sincerity, but many people’s promises are unrealistic, and only some of them are actually healthy.
Following are some suggestions for success…

Instead of “lose weight”, a better goal is “make healthier choices for nutrition and exercise”. This change in phraseology allows you to continually renew the goal every day, in fact several times per day, which will help it stay fresh in your mind. Healthier nutrition choices include smaller portion sizes, less saturated and trans fats, fewer processed foods, more water, less salt, taking a multivitamin, etc. Healthier choices for exercise include more days per week or more minutes per session, different kind of exercises, taking a new class, or joining a different gym.

Taking charge of your health is another (obviously) healthy resolution. This control might include becoming more compliant with how you take your medicine. Making all the physician check-up appointments you’ve been avoiding – including needed lab work, tests, and screenings.

Breaking a bad chemical habit is another healthy choice. Whether it is stopping smoking, reducing alcohol or caffeine intake, or taking only appropriate nutritional supplements.

Another healthy choice is to improve mental well-being. This can take many forms such as thinking more positively about things, laughing more, learning something new, sleeping more, removing an item of stress (or more), watching less television, etc. Another great way to improve your own mental well-being is to volunteer with a charity that is dear to you. This will help others as well.

A final healthy choice that many older folks make is to start a journal or to record a family or personal history. This can be done in writing or verbally. This can be done bit by bit and allows you to remember stories from your past and improves both your mental health and gives your family some stories to enjoy.

Finally, becoming more spiritual has been shown to reduce stress and improve overall health. This might mean joining a congregation more or reading a spiritual book more. It might also include simply being more thankful or saying more prayers.

Some other resolutions that might improve your health (if they reduce stress, etc.) include:

Making new friends
Spending time with loved ones
Leaning a new sport or skill
Taking a once-in-a-lifetime trip
Reducing the volume of possessions
Moving to a smaller home

With any of these goals, remember that small changes over time are easier to maintain than large changes all at once. So, take a calendar and at the first of each month, rewrite your goal, and set some ways to meet it each week and write these throughout the month. For example, “making better choices for nutrition” might include one item per week such as: use less sugar in my coffee, eat 5 vegetables per day, buy whole wheat bread only, and drink one extra full glass of water each day.

Be Well, Be Wise,


Dr Rebecca Wise
Dr Rebecca Wise

Wise Words…. is a general medical information column from Rebecca Miller Wise, MEd, PharmD, CGP. Dr. Wise has a master’s degree in education as well as her doctorate in pharmacy. She is a nationally board certified geriatric pharmacist and an assistant professor at a local medical college.


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