By Lorraine Jones, BDO Staff Writer
New Year’s resolutions. We know you’ve made a few. Like the year before that. And the year before that. So quick question: are you going to actually keep them this time around?
Each January, roughly one in three Americans resolve to better themselves in some way. A much smaller percentage of people actually make good on those resolutions. While about 75% of people stick to their goals for at least a week, less than half (46%) are still on target six months later, a 2002 study found.
It’s hard to keep up the enthusiasm months after you’ve swept up the confetti, but it’s not impossible. This year, pick one of the following worthy resolutions, and stick with it. Here’s to your health!
Shed The Weight…Finally
The fact that this is perennially among the most popular resolutions suggests just how difficult it is to commit to. But you can succeed if you don’t expect overnight success. “You want results yesterday, and desperation mode kicks in,” says Pam Peeke, MD, author of Body for Life for Women. “Beware of the valley of quickie cures.”
Also, plan for bumps in the road. Use a food journal to keep track of what you eat and have a support system in place. “Around week four to six…people become excuse mills,” Dr. Peeke says. “That’s why it’s important to have someone there on a regular basis to get you through those rough times.”
Keep In Touch
Feel like old friends (or family) have fallen by the wayside? It’s good for your health to reconnect with them. Research suggests people with strong social ties live longer than those who don’t.
In fact, a lack of social bonds can damage your health as much as alcohol abuse and smoking, and even more than obesity and lack of exercise, a 2010 study in the journal PLoS Medicine suggests.
In a technology-fixated era, it’s never been easier to stay in touch—or rejuvenate your relationship—with friends and family, so fire up Facebook and follow up with in-person visits.
Save money by making healthy lifestyle changes. Walk or ride your bike to work, or explore carpooling. (That means more money in your pocket and less air pollution.)
Cut back on gym membership costs by exercising at home. Many fitness programs on videogame systems like Nintendo’s Wii Wii Fit Plus and Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect Your Shape Fitness Evolved can get you sweating.
Take stock of what you have in the fridge and make a grocery list. Aimless supermarket shopping can lead to poor choices for your diet and wallet.
A little pressure now and again won’t kill us; in fact, short bouts of stress give us an energy boost. But if stress is chronic, it can increase your risk of—or worsen—insomnia, depression, obesity, heart disease, and more.
Long work hours, little sleep, no exercise, poor diet, and not spending time with family and friends can contribute to stress, says Roberta Lee, MD, an integrative medicine specialist at Beth Israel Medical Center, in New York City, and the author of The Super Stress Solution.
“Stress is an inevitable part of life,” she says. “Relaxation, sleep, socializing, and taking vacations are all things we tell ourselves we deserve but don’t allow ourselves to have.”
We tend to think our own bliss relies on bettering ourselves, but our happiness also increases when we help others, says Peter Kanaris, PhD, coordinator of public education for the New York State Psychological Association.
And guess what? Happiness is good for your health. A 2010 study found that people with positive emotions were about 20% less likely than their gloomier peers to have a heart attack or develop heart disease. Other research suggests that positive emotions can make people more resilient and resourceful.
“Someone who makes this sort of resolution is likely to obtain a tremendous personal benefit in the happiness department,” Kanaris says.
Learn Something New
No matter how old you are, heading back to the classroom can help revamp your career, introduce you to new friends, and even boost your brainpower.
A 2007 study found that middle-age adults who had gone back to school (including night school) sometime in the previous quarter century had stronger memories and verbal skills than those who did not. What’s more, several studies have linked higher educational attainment to a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
“You are gaining a sense of accomplishment by gaining new knowledge, and you are out there meeting people and creating possibilities that were never there before,” Kanaris says.
While much has been written about the health benefits of a small amount of alcohol, too much tippling is still the bigger problem. (In fact, binge drinking seems to be on the rise.)
Drinking alcohol in excess affects the brain’s neurotransmitters and can increase the risk of depression, memory loss, or even seizures.
Chronic heavy drinking boosts your risk of liver and heart disease, hypertension, stroke, and mental deterioration, and even cancers of the mouth, throat, liver, and breast.
You probably already know that a good night’s rest can do wonders for your mood—and appearance. But sleep is more beneficial to your health than you might realize.
A lack of sleep has been linked to a greater risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. And sleep is crucial for strengthening memories (a process called consolidation).
So take a nap—and don’t feel guilty about it.
And…enjoy a healthier, happier year!
Interfaith Older Adult Programs RSVP held a volunteer appreciation luncheon at the Washington Park Senior Center. On hand to say “thank you” and serve the volunteers for their time and support were Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, and MPS Superintendent Gregory Thornton. RSVP is a service organization for individuals 55 years of age and older. Volunteers work together to build capacity and further the mission of local schools and non-profit.
A program that provides free assistance with state and federal tax forms is preparing for a new tax season. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program of the Milwaukee Asset Building Coalition will begin filling out and filing taxes on Tuesday, January 22. This free service will be offered at locations across Milwaukee County including offices for the Social Development Commission and MATC’s Downtown Campus. For a complete list of sites, dates they are open and their hours, visit the SDC website at http://www.cr-sdc.org/Programs/VITA.htm.
The Financial Planning Association of Southern Wisconsin (FPA-SW, www.fpasw.org), is proud to announce they will be providing financial planning volunteers at the upcoming Phoenix Society World Burn Congress, which will be held in Milwaukee September 12th through the 15th.
“We are pleased to be able to provide this resource to the Burn Congress attendees,” said Laura Wilcox, a Certified Financial Planning practitioner and co-chair for Pro Bono activities for the FPA-SW.
“Burn survivors and those who care for them understand that life can change in an instant. Financial planning emphasizes the importance of getting organized, having certain legal safeguards in place and preparing for the future, whatever it may hold.”
The Phoenix Society (www.phoenix-society.org ) was founded by Alan Breslau, who was extensively burned in the crash of a commercial airliner in 1963. Following a visit to a young boy in a burn center, Alan realized the importance of peer support for those with burn injuries and went on to establish one of the first burn support organizations in the United States. After many years of working with burn survivors he officially incorporated The Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors in 1977. The Society takes its name from the legendary bird that lives 500 years and is consumed by flame, but rises again, reborn from its ashes, more brilliant than before.
The Financial Planning Association® is the leadership and advocacy organization which connects those who need, support and deliver financial planning.
FPA’s 95 U.S. chapters represent tens of thousands of members nationwide. FPA also maintains relationships with 25 sister organizations around the world, representing 39 countries.
FPA fosters the value of financial planning and advances the practice and profession for its members and the public at large. FPA believes all consumers deserve to receive professional care, quality and excellence, and that financial planning services should be delivered in accordance with the FPA Standard of Care.
For further information, please contact Liz Pollock, MBA, CFP, CLU at (262) 439-9867 or [email protected]