Among our favorite New Year’s resolutions are those related to a healthier lifestyle. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that obesity, tobacco use, and lack of physical activity together cause approximately one-third of all deaths. You can probably guess that my thirty-something years of caring for women when they are healthy and when their health is in jeopardy have not given me the magic key to solving these problems. But as the new year begins, I would like to share a few thoughts.
Resolve at least to do the easy things this year. Losing that extra weight will definitely lower your risk of dying of breast cancer, but so will getting a mammogram. Wear sunscreen, wear your seatbelt, and check the batteries in your smoke alarms. Take your blood pressure medicine and get your flu shot.
Resolve to be patient with yourself. You didn’t gain that weight in a month; you’ve been smoking since you were a teen; or perhaps you ran cross-country or cheered in high school but that was a long time ago. Slow but sure wins the race.
Resolve to set one realistic goal and hold yourself accountable. You CAN lose one pound a month. You CAN limit your smoking (no cigarettes in a certain location or situation or after a certain hour). Maybe you won’t run a 10k race this year, but you CAN park at the back of the parking lot or take the stairs.
Resolve to seek out help resources. We are here to help you, and Birmingham has a wealth of other helpful community resources. Your OBGYN can prescribe smoking cessation medication. We and our nurses can provide nutrition guidance, weight loss strategies (see the health education section of our website), and referrals to a dietician or weight loss support group. Join a gym or exercise class. Many churches and synagogues offer fitness classes and facilities; you may even discover a new group of healthier friends.
Finally, resolve at your next annual exam to allow us at Sparks & Favor to congratulate you on your success.
Along with all the physicians and staff at Sparks and Favor PC, I wish you a safe and healthy new year.
Jimmy M. Sparks MD