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Dr Phil: Healthy resolutions

Happy new year!

I’m Dr Phil and today we are going to be talking about new year’s resolutions. Frankly, what’s the point? We all make them, we rarely keep them. We might keep them for a week, maybe a couple of weeks, maybe a couple of months but most of them have bitten the dust by the time you get to the summer, so really is there any point in making them at all?

Well, my first top tip is to choose at least one resolution you know you can succeed in. Mine, this year, is to always wear a tie when I’m making these films. I think it makes me look more calm, more authoritative. What do you think? I think I’ve succeeded; I can tick that one off, and I have a nice warm glow having hit my new year’s resolution, probably for the first time ever.

What's your healthy resolution?

Most people try to make new year’s resolutions on new year’s day, which is a bad thing, because you have a hangover – you might have been up drinking and smoking all night, and generally the guilt kicks in maybe January 3rdor 4th. And then people suddenly think I’m going to do everything all at once. I’m going to do my weight, I’m going to do my blood pressure, I’m going to start taking more exercise, I’m going to stop smoking, I’m going to cut down on my booze. They set themselves loads of targets and of course they fail, because you can’t hit all those targets all at once. So choose the one thing you really want to sort out.

Losing weight

If it’s your weight it’s quite simple – just try and eat smaller portions and try to eat more of what is better for you. You know that fruit and veg is good for you, you know you should eat more lean meat if you eat meat, cut down on saturated fats particularly animal fats, and cut down on sugar and crisps. Try to avoid grazing in between meals. Some people find that they have a 3-hour hunger cycle and they need to have snacks every 3 hours or so, so make sure you have decent stuff in the fridge that you know is good for you. If you have crap food in the house, you’ll eat crap food and you’ll end up getting fat. So try and only keep the cupboard stocked with stuff that you know is good for you.

Exercising more

In terms of exercise, people often sit there saying “I’m just waiting to be motivated” but exercise in itself is a motivator. You’ll find if you exercise in front of the television so it’s not too boring – you get your treadmill out or you do your own exercise programme or you use an exercise bicycle – you will find you can be distracted with MTV or America’s Next Top Model, a strangely pleasurable experience, you’ll find it’s much easier to make exercise part of your daily routine. Even better, try to get outdoors into the green space and the blue sky (psychologically much better for you) if you’re lucky enough to have some nice walks around where you live. Always take the stairs ... if you can find them, and they don’t smell of pee!

Quitting smoking

In terms of stopping smoking, if you’re lucky you may be one of those people who say, “right, from today I’m never going to put another burning, poisonous leaf in my mouth”. Some people do that and they go through this macho cold turkey for a few days. Tell your mates – tell everyone else you’re doing it. Don’t be frightened of failure – that’s one thing the British are particularly good at, but we all fail far more than we succeed so you might fall off the wagon a bit or have the odd one, but if generally the trend is down that can only be a good thing. A mate of mine bought some really nasty, cheap (possibly illegal) cigarettes and they tasted so disgusting he thought “I get no pleasure in these, I’m never going to smoke again”. Then, of course, there are lots of anti-smoking products. There are nicotine patches, there are some good drugs that you can get, and if you type ‘quit smoking’ into your search engine there are a lot of NHS helplines with advice to help you quit. Again, you may be someone who can stop automatically, you may have to pick a date, or you may have to cut down gradually, but any trend that’s down is a good thing and it can be seen as a success.

Realistic targets

As for weight loss, you need realistic targets. You’re never going to lose 80 pounds in a week. You might lose a pound a week, you might lose a pound a month, but if it’s a realistic target and you feel you can hit it, that’s a success.

Have some buddies around you. Always try and do things together. It’s much easier, so a weight loss group, a stop-smoking group is a good thing.

Seeing your doctor 

The other great thing about the new year’s resolution is you can use it as an opportunity to go and see your GP or your nurse about a problem you’ve been sitting on for the last 6 months. It could be a smelly discharge, it could be a prickly scrotum, it could be a third nipple, it could be a hairy nipple, it could be man boobs, it could be bad breath, it could be jug ears ... it could be anything – something you’ve been too embarrassed to go to your doctor about. It’s quite a good way of opening the door and saying, “Look, it’s the new year. I want to take my health a bit more seriously. Here’s a problem that’s been bugging me for a while.”

It’s particularly useful for things like blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes – checks that you know you should have had if you’ve never had them before – or if you’ve noticed your pulse is irregular, that’s always a good thing to go and get checked out.

Tackle it, move on

So don’t be shy. Use your new year’s resolutions as an opportunity to sort yourself out. And as I say, if you fail – well, most of us do(!) but then we get up and we succeed the next time. So look after yourself!

Written by: Dr Phil Hammond
Edited by: Dr Phil Hammond
Last updated: Tuesday, January 27th 2015

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