Solutions for Resolutions!

Last week we talked a little bit about new year resolutions. Since then I’ve heard many different resolutions, some funny, some great and some inspiring. Everyone wants to make a change for the better, but change is never easy. It’s Newton’s first law: an object at rest tends to stay at rest unless acted upon by an outside force. Picture a snowball on the top of a hill. It’s not going anywhere unless we give it a push.
I’ve compiled a list of some of the resolutions I’ve come across. I’ve picked the ones I think can be most impactful and helpful for folks in their day-to-day lives.
• Losing weight: This is the granddaddy of new year resolutions. No real big surprise to anyone that it’s on the list. When it comes to losing weight, I often have to remind people that slow and steady wins the race. Smaller changes have larger impacts. Work in a multi-level building? Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Get 30 minutes at lunch? Take a brisk 15 minute walk. In fact, one such walk can burn a little over 100 calories. Do it every day and by the end of the year you’ve lost 10lbs. Set realistic and long-term goals for yourself. These are much more realizable and rewarding in the end.
• Quit smoking: Smoking kills. No doubt. I heard another doctor tell a joke once, “Quitting is easy, I’ve done it a dozen times!”. People quit, but end up picking it up again down the road. Actually, research shows that for every attempt you make at quitting you’re much more likely to quit for good. Don’t forget that there are plenty of resources to help you on the way. Talk to your doctor about nicotine gum, patches, electronic cigarettes, meditation, hypnosis, even medication (there are so many ways to quit). No matter how many times you’ve tried, don’t give up.
• Smile more: This doesn’t top the popularity list, but is one of my favorites. Smiling has the effect of releasing neurochemicals in the brain that can actually make you happier. Think of it as exercise for your face and brain. Each time you smile you’re raising the level of endorphins (happy chemicals) in your brain. It’s even good for pain relief; endorphins are natural painkillers! Want another reason? Many studies have repeatedly shown that we tend to mimic the facial expressions of others around us. Want a happier workplace? Spread a contagious smile.
• Volunteer: Giving the gift of love and time. I hear many people mention they want to spend more time this year helping others. But this is a great resolution because of the effects it can have on you. In 2012, the journal of Health Psychology published a study that showed regular volunteering resulted in living longer! In fact, other studies have demonstrated its ability to reduce blood pressure and result in healthier weight loss too.
• Create a schedule: Want to know the best way to accomplish the above resolutions and others? Schedule them into your calendar. You are much more likely to lose the weight when you schedule in the time for that brisk walk. More importantly scheduling time for yourself, for family and for friends. This is an excellent technique to combat stress and raise productivity. Don’t believe me? Some of America’s tops businesses like Google and Microsoft have their workers schedule in personal time.
The rest of Newton’s first law? An object in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. Let’s get that snowball rolling!

~Dr. Umair Malik