This is one of my favorite weeks of the year because I usually get to spend an entire week with my wife and kids as I look forward to the New Year. Unfortunately, a lot of people quickly leave the joy of Christmas behind and become depressed or feel guilty about how they look, their relationships, or their career.
This helps to explain why nearly half of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. Of course, the most common resolution is to lose weight, whether that means going to the gym or trying the latest fad diet.
The problem with the average exercise regimen is that most are unsupervised. Instead of following a customized fitness program developed by a professional, most people do what they see other people do – run on the treadmill, lift weights, take an aerobics class, and so on.
The same is true for diets. Instead of consulting with their doctors, people trust the expertise of Dr. Google and find the latest “get thin quick” diet, whether it comes in the form of a pill, a shake or some form of deprivation.
Not only do these types of New Year’s resolutions fail to help you lose weight and keep it off, but they also fail to make you healthier. In fact, they tend to do the opposite because radical weight loss, especially unsupervised, is very bad for the human body.
I would like all of my patients and readers of this blog to make a resolution to stop equating good health with weight loss.
Don’t get me wrong. Obesity is a serious problem. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that two thirds of all diseases around the world in 2020 will be caused by poor lifestyle choices, many of which lead to obesity.
But the key to both preventing and correcting obesity is not a crash diet or a fitness obsession. Maintaining your optimal weight and losing weight are simply by-products of a wellness lifestyle that requires you to make permanent lifestyle changes.
I’ve been using terms like “wellness lifestyle” and “lifestyle medicine” for years. Finally, these terms are appearing in medical journals. They’re being slowly embraced by primary care practices. Most importantly, more people are embracing wellness in their everyday lives.
You have the power to make smart decisions about your health. Everyone does. You just need the willingness to make those smart decisions – hour after hour, day after day, month after month, year after year. More than exercise and nutrition, you need to make sure you get enough sleep and avoid stressful situations as much as possible.
That’s what it takes to live a wellness lifestyle. That’s what it takes to make you feel better, function better, and live as many disease-free years as possible.
If you can do this, you won’t have to worry about weight loss gimmicks. Weight loss will happen naturally, and it will be permanent.
I encourage everyone to look to the new year with optimism and positivity. Remember, you’re in control. You have the power to be healthy. You have the power to make this the best year of your life.
Let’s make it truly Happy New Year!