by Dr. Jennifer Caudle, Family Physician
This is the time of year when many of my patients (and friends and family) plan to start a new workout plan with the goal of losing weight and getting healthy. I am a fan of this because I think the new year is a time for renewal- new optimism, new goals and new workout plans!
BUT, before you start your New Year’s workout plan, make sure to do the following 5 items first:
- Check in with your doctor
Before starting an aggressive workout routine, check in with your doctor. This is especially important if you have certain heart, lung or joint conditions. This is also important if you haven’t exercised in a while. The purpose is to make sure that you stay healthy while embarking on an exercise routine and don’t overdo it. For most people, gentle low-impact exercises are usually okay, but I actually advise AGAINST certain exercises for some patients because of their medical conditions. So, before you start weightlifting or training for that triathlon, make sure to get the go-ahead from your doc first.
- Go Slow!
You’ve probably heard the term “weekend warrior.” This is someone who does a strenuous activity only on weekends or part-time (Merriam-Webster). Well, the new year is the time to put your “warrior” days aside because being a warrior can pave the way for a sports injury. One of the best ways to avoid a sports injury is to GO SLOW when starting a new workout routine. Rather than starting off with a 5 mile run, for example, start small and gradually increase your distance over time. If aerobics or spinning is your thing, do the same. Start SLOW- not only will this minimize your chance for injury but it will also help keep you stay motivated as you get back into shape!
- Remember, it’s a Journey
The truth is, getting healthy can be challenging. If I told you that you were going to start your new workout plan and live happily-ever-after, I would be lying. You are bound to go through ups and downs in your quest for good health. One of the best ways to handle this is to simply expect to have some low moments as you embark on this process. You might feel discouraged, unmotivated or unsure at times, but the key is to have a plan for dealing with these emotions when they arrive. Stay confident and optimistic through your journey (and avoid negative self-talk) and you WILL be successful.
- To Supplement, or Not to Supplement
Have you seen TV or internet ads advertising dietary supplements which help you “lose the weight and keep it off,” or give you “24-hour energy?” These ads are all too common in today’s marketplace and they sound great, but don’t believe everything you hear. The truth is, dietary supplement manufacturers and distributors are not required to obtain approval from FDA before marketing dietary supplements. This means that we might not know which active ingredients are present or how effective the supplements are. Some ingredients might actually be harmful for certain people. Bottom line here is to talk with your doctor before buying or taking any supplements. Your doc will help you figure out which to spend your money on.
- Avoid Naysayers
Do you know people who are “Debbie Downers” or “Negative Nelly’s?” If you do, this is the time to RUN, not just walk, away from them. This new year is about reviving your mind, body and spirit. Do yourself a favor and surround yourself with those who also believe this and support your quest for good health. You deserve the best from the people in your life and you deserve the best health possible.