Healthy You: Need to set health goals for the new year? Find some tips here

Here we are again, at the start of a new year!

It has been fun for me to look back over last year’s Healthy You columns and consider the health-related topics we have discussed: heart health, supplements, detox, nutrition bars, the basic tenet that food can be as powerful as medicine and more.

No doubt, you, like so many others, want to make some healthy changes in the upcoming year and nutrition is an area in which most of us can improve. I will not venture to tell you what your specific health goals should be for the year. Instead I would like to offer four areas for your consideration as you craft your health goals this year.

These are areas I find are overlooked and lacking in many people. Whether you are a gym rat or new to healthy living, the following categories are ones in which we all can improve (myself included). It’s just up to you to decide how you want to translate them into your unique, personal goals.

  • Start listening to your body.  Sound a little “out there” and spacey? Hardly.

This is a particularly helpful hint for the those of us who live in denial or are just happily unaware. The truth is, many of us have issues that have subtly accumulated over the years (bloating, itchy skin, constipation, fatigue after eating, etc.).

They are so “normal” to us now that we don’t even consciously recognize they are there. They become like our neighbors—we know their daily routine and expect to see them regardless of if we like them!  This year, I welcome you to stop accepting nagging dysfunction as normal.

I had a friend once who often mentioned feeling nauseated, bloated and “off” in the evenings. At first it seemed to happen randomly, without a pattern. Gradually, he realized he felt ill every time he had an evening bowl of cereal or ice cream.

Recognizing this was a big step. Many people never make changes towards positive goals because they fail to recognize that there IS a problem. Of course, the next step will be to DO something about it. Yet without identifying a problem, there is no chance of creating a change.

Fortunately for my friend, his issue resolved by simply substituting a dairy-free milk for the regular milk and ice cream. It took him a long time to make that change but once he did, the improvement was so marked that he stuck with it. This year begin paying attention and commit to doing something about it.

  • Don’t go solo. The truth is, no one can reach your goals for you but you cannot accomplish them alone.

This is true, even for introverts. Everyone needs some help getting somewhere, especially if the habit has become ingrained over time. I have seen the lack of support (especially the lack of support from family and friends) slowly wear down a person’s resolve to move towards their goal.

I know this from personal experience.

When I first realized I needed to go gluten free to deal with chronic health issues, I tried to do it solo. That was a mistake. I mentioned it to my family members but didn’t ask for their help and support in it. This complicated my healing as I navigated the learning curve — alone.  Sometimes it made the diet impossible to follow.

Support doesn’t just include people. It can take many different forms too. It can include tools and resources such as apps, schedules, healthcare professionals, videos, cookbooks, etc.

Think about what has worked for you in the past. What was your “support sweet spot?” Are these worth trying again?

As you create your goals for 2018, make sure you know how you are going to support yourself through the challenge of change.

  • Do one thing that will help your gut health this year.

We have talked about this in previous articles. If you follow any of the health-related news articles you have seen it there too. How well your gut (stomach and intestines) works matters — a lot! Most Americans are guilty of some form “gut abuse” by the foods we build our diets on or the ones we leave out. That can all change though. The gut is pretty responsive to positive changes we make.

So develop one good habit for your gut this year as a part of your healthy resolutions. You likely will be surprised at the difference it can make to your waistline, immune system (who doesn’t want to not catch every cold bug out there?), mood and energy levels.

Here are some gut-building habits to consider: probiotics, digestive enzymes, smaller meals (decreasing the digestive load), emphasizing cooked vs. raw or raw vs. cooked veggies (depending on your tolerance levels to them), reducing your sugary drink intake, fiber supplements for constipation, fermented foods and beverages etc.

  • Stop listening to Everyone and listen to a Few.

Namely, listen to credible sources and those who are worth listening to. In todays’ world, we are bombarded with information and choices all the time. The barrage of info (the “shoulds” and the “shouldn’ts”) can confuse, discourage and derail you from your goals.

I am 100 percent for learning new things. I even think it is OK to learn from many teachers; however, you absolutely cannot listen to everyone.

For one, not everyone’s advice is good and secondly, you only have so much capacity.  Find the chefs, exercise physiologists, healthcare professionals, and researchers who are worth listening to and plug into their stuff. Free yourself from the noise of Everyone so you can work on your goals with confidence.

Don’t let the noise of “everyone else” keep you from working on your goals with confidence!

So as you create your health goals for 2018, think about the ways you can start listening to your body, find the unique support you need, improve your gut health, and avoid distractions by listening to the best sources of information.

– Cathryn Arndt is a registered dietitian nutritionist. She lives in the McDowell Creek area with her husband and owns a nutrition counseling business called The Pantry Lab LLC. To learn more about Cathryn, visit her Facebook page or You Tube Channel by searching under “Dietitian Cathryn.” Find her blog at thepantrylab.com.