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Start the New Year with specific and realistic goals


Diet, exercise, sleep and regular healthcare check-ups are essential to a life well lived. Start the New Year with these goals in mind.

The holidays have come and gone, and we got through them all. For some it was a beautiful season and for others it brings up the pain of thinking about the ones lost. We are now in a new year and this may be the time to take stock and see how we can improve our lives.

Many people reject the term New Year’s resolution. Research though has shown that New Years and birthdays are good times in a person’s life to initiate change. Those dates represent “a new time” or “a new you” as opposed to the “old you.” This represents a new year where you get to start over and will be successful.

Certainly, more people have gotten into taking care of themselves than previously, but let me tell you there are plenty more people, who need to start doing this.

The first thing is to start. Research shows that you need to start with specific and realistic goals. You cannot realistically expect to go from a couch potato to an elite athlete in three months. You should have a plan of what you will do in week one and each week thereafter. You could expect to go from a couch potato to starting to walk 15 to 20 minutes a day five days a week or start to swim or start to do resistance exercises.

A few patients, who have told me they have plans to start to take better care of themselves have asked me what I feel are the most important things they should begin with.

My first one is diet. Junk in junk out, you are what you eat, are a few of the phrases that refer to how important your diet is to your health. Most people know that they need to eat more fruits and vegetables. Most know that fried, fat laden, processed and sugar laden foods are not the best for them to eat. A modified Mediterranean diet is the one I would suggest.

My second one would be getting enough sleep. As I have said many times, sleep is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Your body performs many processes that cleanse and heal it while asleep. Proper sleep in time and quality is imperative.

My third one would be to see your healthcare provider. If you have medical problems, take your medication and try to get your health issues as good as you can. Do your maintenance exams and find out where your health status lies.

My fourth one would be to start an exercise program that includes aerobic and resistance training. Almost everyone can do some exercise. There are modified programs for people who are couch potatoes, in wheelchairs, on oxygen, have heart problems or any other medical problem. Where there is a will there is a way to find an exercise that will help you. So many studies have shown that people who exercise live longer and have a better quality of health.

The bottom line is that we all need to take this time and look at our lives and see how we can make a new start to improve our health. How can we make the lifestyle changes that will improve our lives? Remember the habits that our children see us make may affect their choices too. My new phrase for the year is lifestyle changes. Which ones are you willing to make?

Dr. Veita Bland is a board-certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wed. Email Dr. Bland at