7 Ways to Transform Your Life for 2017

By Oralia Garcia Dominic, Ph.D., M.A., M.S

 

Happy New Year! I am hopeful that 2017 will be your best year ever in all aspects of your life. I want you to improve your health status (body, mind, and spirit) and feel the best that you can.

Take advantage of the advancements in medicine. We now have evidence-based strategies that work for disease prevention, treatment and control. We know that a “Western diet” high in processed foods, fat, sugar and salt is problematic to one’s health. We also know that there are many benefits to eating five or more daily servings of fruits and vegetables, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, exercising at least 30 minutes per day, not smoking and limiting alcohol intake. We know that many chronic diseases can be prevented and/or postponed and controlled, including type-2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity and certain cancers like colorectal cancer. Dollars saved through prevention can be used for other health care needs.

We now have age- and sex-specific screening guidelines, so talk with your doctors about ways to lower your risk for these diseases, and get screened.  Remember, early detection improves survivorship.

How do you get started?

The first step is identifying what works and what doesn’t work for your overall health, screening behavior, inner peace and mental happiness. Talk to your doctor about finding effective strategies that work best for you and your loved ones.

Start the new year with a new attitude and a new you. Remember the words of Albert Einstein, who stated, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

According the PA Department of Health’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS) data, in 2014, on average, one in four of adult residents in Pa. 18 years and older reported that they had limited activity due to physical, mental or emotional problems. This should not be the case.

In general, here are seven small ways to transform your life. These are suggestions encouraged by many health professionals, including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Each one listed is a baby step that is doable and realistic.

  1. Eat healthy, stay physically active. Eat fruits and vegetables, which pack nutrients and help lower the risk for certain diseases. Limit your portion sizes and foods high in fat, salt, and sugar. Also, be active for at least two and half hours a week, and help kids and teens be active for at least one hour a day.
  2. Get exams and screenings. Ask your health care provider what exams you need and when to get them. Update your personal and family history. Get insurance from the Health Insurance Marketplace if you are not insured.
  3. Wash hands often to help prevent the spread of germs. It’s flu season. Wash your hands with soap and clean running water for at least 20 seconds.
  4. Manage stress. Give yourself a break if you feel stressed-out, overwhelmed and out-of-control. Some of the best ways to manage stress are to find support, connect socially and get plenty of sleep.
  5. Don’t drink and drive or let others drink and drive. Whenever anyone drives drunk, they put everyone on the road in danger. Choose not to drink and drive, and help others do the same.
  6. Be smoke-free. Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke. Smokers have greater health risks because of their tobacco use, but nonsmokers also are at risk when exposed to tobacco smoke.
  7. Fasten seat belts while driving or riding in a motor vehicle. Always buckle your children in the car using a child-safety seat, booster seat or seat belt according to their height, weight and age. Buckle up every time, no matter how short the trip, and encourage passengers to do the same.

Be inspired to stay in the spirit of good health!

While most articles focus on losing weight, changing habits and having an attitude of “out with the old, in with the new,” we propose small changes that may lead to big results. Be well. Do your best to take care of your health. Help your loved ones by encouraging them to visit their doctors on a regular basis, and learn ways to lower their risk for many health conditions and diseases.

         Take good care of yourself in 2017 and beyond. Send me your health questions to ¡Hola, Oralia! at dr.oralia@gmail.com. Together, we can help keep Pennsylvania residents and their families healthy.  ¡Salud!

Oralia Dominic

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