Finding Ways to Stick with Your Annual Resolutions
By now, many of us are starting to think about New Year’s resolutions. Those promises we make to ourselves each year but often abandon them after a couple of months or so. That happens for many reasons. Sometimes the goals we set are unrealistic. Other times we give up when our progress seems to slow down or stop.
Setting goals will be different this year because COVID-19 has impacted nearly everything we do. That includes many of the ways we used to stay active, whether it was spending part of your lunch hour taking a brisk walk with coworkers, playing in sports leagues and going to the gym.
But, don’t worry. Dr. Deborah Stewart, senior regional medical director for Florida Blue, has some practical advice to help you stay focused on your goals. “It’s not flashy and it won’t sell any books,” Stewart said of the necessary approach. “But it’s really about caloric intake and exercise.”
If you’re 50 pounds overweight, don’t just say “I need to lose 50 pounds,” Stewart said. Instead, set small manageable goals that will help change a behavior. Too many times people turn to fad diets because they can lose weight quickly, she said. But those diets are rarely sustainable, so you will likely regain the weight you lost.
Stewart said losing one to two pounds a week is reasonable, but that takes patience. If you lose it much faster than that, you may also lose muscle. Plus, that slower pace means you’re more likely to keep it off and avoid the dreaded yo-yo affect.
Creating a plan for a healthier you should start by talking with your primary care doctor about the best and safest way to achieve your goals. That includes talking about any health issues you may have and what level exercise program is right for you.
Once your goals are set, you’ll find there are many ways your health plan can help you get there. Wellness programs that reward your progress, Florida Blue Centers that are offering a slew of online activities and classes during COVID-19, and access to discounted gym memberships and fitness supplies are a few of the perks of being a Florida Blue member.
Set attainable goals for your fitness level. Don’t say “I’m going to run a marathon” in two months if you’re a newcomer to running, Stewart said. Start by walking a few blocks, then a mile, then two miles, then a local 5K event.
Look at for small ways in your everyday life to build in more exercise. It’s more difficult than usual for many people because of COVID-19. But you can still park farther away from the door at the grocery, the mall or anywhere you go so you can get extra steps in. Take the stairs when you can instead of the elevator.
Those extra steps can really add up. Your smartphone, smartwatches and wearable devices can track those steps and more for you. Florida Blue members can often get those items at a lower price from Blue365, a free program that offers discounts on health and wellness items. Other items available through Blue365 that can help you get healthier include discounted gym memberships, heart rate monitors and exercise equipment.
Our Medicare Advantage plans include the SilverSneakers fitness program, which gives you access to gyms and health clubs like the YMCA, Planet Fitness, LA Fitness and Curves locations. During COVID-19, the program has a full library of online programs for all fitness levels to keep you moving. Medicare Supplement members can add a SilverSneakers fitness benefit to their plan for an additional monthly premium.
Your plan’s rewards program (Better You Strides or HealthyBlue Rewards) offers activities to help you focus on getting and staying healthy. They feature online interactive programs that offer fun ways to help you manage your weight and nutrition. You can use the programs at no additional charge and earn rewards along the way. Check your plan for more details.
Even though the Florida Blue Centers are not open to the public while COVID-19 is a health concern, the staff is working remotely to answer questions about health and wellness. They’re also offering online fitness classes and providing other tips to keep you healthy. When the centers are able to safely reopen, click here to find one near you.
Stewart has always told her patients they can’t be perfect. You have to understand you aren’t going to be successful all the time. But that doesn’t mean giving up the first time you stray from your plan. “It just means for a day or a weekend, you didn’t do as well as you had hoped,” she said.
It’s OK to give yourself the flexibility to go off your program when you need to. If your child is getting married or you have a vacation coming up, it’s fine to loosen up the reins some. The problem most people have is once they do that, they don’t get back on track.
Forgive yourself for straying or taking a break, Stewart said, but push yourself to return.
Be Supportive and Supported
Having a support system is invaluable in your quest to become healthier. Whether you get off track or you’ve hit a plateau, being able to count on someone to motivate you and hold you accountable is critical. Health coaches and fitness trainers are obvious choices, but there are many other possibilities that won’t cost you money.
You can lean on your family, a friend, a co-worker or a neighbor to keep you going, and you can do the same for them. Another possibility is finding a support system by attending events at Florida Blue Centers with people who have similar goals.
The right support can make the difference between you sticking with your plan or giving up.
When you look at your plate, think of it as a canvas splashed with a palette of colors. That ensures you’re getting a good mix of vitamins, nutrients and minerals. For example, the red and pink group includes beets, apples, peppers, strawberries and tomatoes. Yellow and orange includes butternut squash, corn, nectarines and pineapples. Click here to see suggestions for the five color groups.
If there’s a food you don’t like, try cooking it a different way. Stewart mentioned okra fries she had where the okra was sliced really thin, flash-fried and lightly salted. Techniques like that can be especially beneficial when it comes to children and even picky adults.
Now that you’re armed with some helpful advice, it’s time to get started. Talk with your doctor about these tips and other steps you can take to improve your health and fitness. Then get started on the path to a healthier and happier you.
Filed under: Healthy Living