Five tips for keeping your New Year’s health resolutions
Making New Year’s resolutions is easy — it’s the follow through that trips us up. Take getting healthy, for example. Why is it so difficult to eat right and get regular exercise? Experts will tell you we fail at keeping our resolutions for a variety of reasons. Maybe we aren’t really serious about them in the first place or aren’t willing to make the sacrifices it takes to be successful. Some of us give up the first time we fail or just plain lose interest in the goal.
Regardless, getting healthy shouldn’t just be a resolution we make every December 31; it should be a lifestyle we adopt, a habit we develop. Like anything else worth having, it’s worth working for. And, since a healthy lifestyle is good for your hearing health, Healthy Hearing wants to share five tips that will help keep you focused on achieving your goal of getting healthy this year.
Tip #1: Make a specific, realistic goal
Losing weight is a popular New Year’s resolution – so is getting enough exercise – but what does that really mean for you? If you’ve never run a mile in your life, resolving to run the Boston Marathon this year may not be the best idea. Instead, start with an easy walking program that gets you moving for 20 to 30 minutes several times a week. If your doctor agrees you’re healthy enough, start jogging when you feel you can. The same goes for your food choices. If you’re a meat and potatoes kind of guy, don’t expect to be happy nibbling on carrot sticks and celery for lunch and dinner. Instead, work with your doctor to determine a health caloric intake for the day and which foods you can substitute for the unhealthy choices you typically make. Remember, you’re in this for the long haul. There’s nothing wrong with running a slow and steady race.
Hearing health: One easy goal you can accomplish in the next month is to make an appointment with a hearing healthcare professional and have your hearing tested. If you don’t already see a hearing healthcare professional, ask your family doctor for a referral or search for a trusted professional in your community on the Healthy Hearing website.
Tip #2: Make a plan
Steven Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, would tell you to “begin with the end in mind,” meaning you have to know where you want to end before you even get started. One of the best ways to do this is to sit down and write out daily, weekly and monthly targets that you can physically achieve on your way to your overall goal. What do you want to accomplish the first month? Write it down. Where do you see yourself in six months? Make that a mini goal. When you give yourself a set of smaller steps, your overall goal doesn’t seem as overwhelming or far-fetched.
Hearing health: While you’re at it, make a financial plan for your hearing health, too. Untreated hearing loss can cause a variety of other health problems, including dementia, social isolation, anxiety and depression.
Tip #3: Expect set backs
Hey, nobody’s perfect – so don’t use that as an excuse to give up. If, after a few months — or hey, even a few weeks — of working your plan you find yourself off track, regroup and begin again. Take a moment to figure out what derailed you and make adjustments to address the problem. Were you too aggressive when you began your exercise program? Dial it back a notch or two. Did you give up all of your favorite foods at once? Instead of eliminating everything you love, see if you can cut back on the amount you eat or make some healthy substitutions for some of your unhealthy favorites.
Hearing health: The same thing can be said for adjusting to new hearing aids. Depending on the amount of hearing loss you have and the amount of time you’ve waited to address it, you may find it difficult when you first start wearing hearing devices. Stick with it. Talk to your hearing healthcare professional about the challenges you’re encountering. Work with them to find the best solution for your hearing loss. It’s well worth it. The majority of successful hearing aid users report enhanced quality of life, including relationships with family and friends and increased enjoyment from participating in favorite activities.
Tip #4: Talk about it
Having a fitness buddy is a good way to keep yourself accountable during the year. Sign up for a 5K walk and see if a friend or two is willing to join you. Start a new family tradition of taking a leisurely bike ride on the weekends. Take photos of the beautiful scenery you find on your favorite hiking trail and post them on your social media account. Stay positive – both about your progress as well as about how well your new lifestyle makes you feel.
Hearing health: Talking about your hearing health is important, too. If you suspect you have hearing loss, talk to your family about your suspicions. Take someone with you when you have your hearing tested so another set of ears hears what the hearing healthcare professional says about your results and recommended plan of action. If you’re a good candidate for hearing aids, as many people with sensorineural hearing loss are, involve your family in the adjustment process.
Tip #5: Reward yourself
Don’t wait until the end of the year when you accomplish your end goal to reward yourself, either. It’s important to pat yourself on the back along the way. Whenever you accomplish a milestone or achieve a mini goal, do something nice for yourself. If retail therapy isn’t your thing, treat yourself to a nice dinner at your favorite restaurant or celebrate by doing something you weren’t able to do before you started working toward your goal.
Hearing health: Your hearing health is rewarded when you adopt a healthy lifestyle, too. Maintaining a healthy weight is good for your circulation, which nourishes the delicate hair cells of your inner ear responsible for translating the noise our ears collect into the electrical impulses our brain eventually interprets as recognizable sound. That’s a reward for ourselves, as well as for our family and friends.
According to statistics compiled by the University of Scranton, 45 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions and 46 percent maintain them past six months. Whether you resolved to get healthier this year or are just determined to make some healthy changes, increase your odds of success with these five tips. At the end of the year, you’ll have healthier habits that will lead to better physical and hearing health – and that's definitely something worth working for.