The New Year is just around the corner and that means it’s time to reflect on the past year and set goals for the year ahead. This year I want to encourage you not to think only of short-term goals but also long-term goals around health and the aging process. What can you initiate in your life in 2014 that will help support longevity and graceful aging so that you are also happy and healthy in 2024, 2034 and beyond?
Chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, stroke, obesity, arthritis and cancer are rampant in our country. 7 out of the 10 leading causes of death in the U.S. are caused by chronic diseases. While chronic disease can be caused by many factors, the World Health Organization cites three main culprits…
- Unhealthy diet and excessive energy intake
- Physical inactivity
- Tobacco use
In addition to being a leading cause of death in our country, chronic diseases also lead to an overall reduction in the quality of life. I can’t encourage you enough to read this page on the CDC’s website that is full of hard-hitting statistics on how many people are affected by or at risk for chronic disease.
The good news is that there is so much that we can do RIGHT NOW to maximize our health and wellness and reduce our risk for these chronic diseases. Diet, exercise and stress reduction are the number one places to start. Now, how do you get started with these big dietary and physical activity changes? It can feel overwhelming to face lifestyle changes. One of the first things that I always try to identify both personally and when working with clients is the motivation behind making the change or committing to a certain behavior or action. When you are clear about your motivations it’s much easier to stick with it. Some examples of this might be…
- To be around for my kids and/or spouse
- So that I can travel when I retire
- Being able to maintain independence and mobility and care for myself late in life
- So that I have a greater chance of a healthy pregnancy
- To not follow the family trend of diabetes
- To feel better
I could go on and on. One of my favorite parts of the intake process with new clients is hearing them state their goals and their motivations behind them. It always moves me and I love having that benchmark on day one so theycan see how much progress is possible if they just stay committed to their goals.
And then you do the best you can. I will forever remind myself, my students and my clients that every single person has a day one. You show up on day one and you do the best you can. And then you try again tomorrow. A bad day or week does not mean that you should give up. It’s important to put the effort in and have the confidence that you can and will achieve your goals, knowing that you’re on your own timeline and journey. Everyone faces setbacks, it’s how you keep moving forward that matters. Here are some of the things that I am committed to working on in 2014 that will allow me greater longevity and happiness as I get older.
- Work/life balance. I have made some big changes in the past few months to the way that I work and spend my days and I cannot tell you how much better I feel already. I’m really working to evaluate the best ways to use my time and also allowing myself to not be in work mode all the time.
- Personal happiness and self-confidence. I have been seeing the most amazing therapist for two years now and I’m committed to continuing that relationship so that I continue to work on being totally 100% happy and confident in myself and my self-worth. There is no stigma around talking to someone who can offer an outside perspective on your life.
- Being more in tune with my body. My recent anemia diagnosis opened my eyes to the fact that even though I eat well and exercise that does not make me immune from health issues. I want to maintain this strong and healthy body late in life so I am committed to taking care of it the best that I can.
- Being still. I would love to say that I’m going to commit to meditating on a regular basis but I would be setting myself up for failure. What I do want to incorporate is more stillness into my life. I want to be able to sit for 15 minutes without checking my phone. I want to walk with the dog with no noise distractions. I want to just lay on the couch and read a book. I want to practice self-guided ashtanga again without needing to be in a class full of people. And I do want to attempt to start to cultivate a meditation practice.
I would love for you to share with me some of the health and wellness goals that you have for 2014 that will help you as you Get Old. Is this the year you finally start working out regularly? Will you stop smoking? Will you quit working 14 hours a day? What are you doing to Get Old well? Tell us at GetOld.com and join the conversation on Twitter.com/GetOld and Facebook.com/GetOld. I am participating in a sponsored campaign hosted by Pfizer and Get Old. I received compensation for this post. All opinions stated are my own. Get Old is a registered trademark of Pfizer Inc.