Many people use the occasion of the New Year to reflect on the last year and make specific goals for the next.  Resolutions can be very helpful motivators if they are specific, realistic and written down.  Just as people make goals for their careers and their relationships, resolutions for your health are a smart way to work for achievable targets in the health-related struggles you face.

So I encourage you this week to write down your health resolutions for 2009.  Obviously, what progress is achievable is as varied as the people making resolutions.  An elderly lady with balance problems may resolve to attend physical therapy and use her walker consistently and have an entire year without falling.  A younger more active woman may resolve to train for and compete in a triathlon.  There is no objective marker for your goals.  You just have to balance ambition with realism.

My suggestion is to make the resolutions as specific as possible.  Detailed planning will help overcome procrastination and a specific goal will keep you accountable.  So don’t write

  • I’m going to exercise more
  • I’m going to eat less
  • I’m going to lose weight

but instead write something like

  • I’m going to walk for 45 minutes Monday through Friday before work
  • I’m going to join Weight Watchers and attend meetings weekly
  • I’m going to weigh 205 lb on January 1, 2010

If you have diabetes, you should be following your glycated hemoglobin (or hemoglobin A1C).  Write down a goal for it.  If you’re struggling with your cholesterol, pick a goal for your LDL.  If your blood pressure is too high, write down something like

  • My blood pressure will be lower than 140/90 on every doctor visit

If you’re smoking, 2009 is the perfect year to quit (on a specific date that you should pick now).  Obviously, some of these goals may require your physician’s help in terms of adjusting your medications, but your doctor can’t do it alone.

Making yourself accountable to others can also help keep you on track.  Give a copy of your resolutions to your spouse, to your doctor to attach to your chart, to anyone who knows you too well and cares for you too much to let you cheat yourself.

I wish us all a year of peace, health, prosperity and happiness.