Resolving 2017: Experts offer pro tips to stick to popular new year’s resolutions  

Published 1:51 pm Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The new year is finally upon us. It is a time of new beginnings and, as a result, the time many seek to change themselves through new year’s resolutions.

While resolutions are easy to make, they are often difficult to keep. Some local experts have given advice on how to make the most of some popular resolutions and how to stick with them for the entire year.

LOSING WEIGHT/GETTING FIT

The most popular resolution each year involves losing weight or getting into better shape. However, these resolutions can be hazardous and difficult to keep up with.

Dr. Chris Sharrock, who specializes in physical therapy and sports medicine, says the first mistake some people make is actually overestimating how important exercise is to their overall health.

“People often overestimate the role that exercise plays in weight loss and improving health,” Sharrock said. “Exercise is certainly very important, but many lifestyle and behavioral factors such as sleep quality, nutrition and stress management should be prioritized first.”

Far too often, he said, people rush to fad fitness programs or high-intensity training that is not sustainable, compromises their long term health and leaves them injured.

That doesn’t mean exercise isn’t important though, he said, it simply means there is a “best way” to start a regimen.

“There are several recommendations that I make to people who are looking to start exercising,” Sharrock said. “First, make sure you are medically cleared from your physician to perform the type of exercise in which you are considering. Second, get evaluated by a physical therapist who can assess your movement quality and physical preparedness for exercise and advise you on an appropriate starting point. Thirdly, hire a knowledgeable and qualified coach to help you with designing your program and teaching you proper form.”

Another important factor when trying to lose weight is diet. While starting a healthier diet can have positive affects on health, Sharrock says people also must be conscious of the hazards of dieting while exercising more.

“It is absolutely critical to match your nutritional strategy to your exercise goals for improving overall health, body composition and performance,” Sharrock said. “It is important to know what your body’s daily caloric requirements are and how exercise will impact the strategy needed for best success.”

Not paying attention to your body’s nutritional needs can lead to serious risks, he added.

“Not consuming enough protein and unnecessarily restricting healthy carbohydrates and fats are very common mistakes that I see,” he said. “Based off your goals of fat loss or gaining muscle the percentages of fats, carbs and proteins you consume will need to be adjusted. Also make sure to focus on maintaining proper water intake on a daily basis.”

Sharrock said for people who are serious about getting in better shape for the new year, the small decisions are the most impactful.

“I tell all my patients and athletes that small hinges swing big doors,” he said. “Long-term health is a process much more like a marathon than a sprint. Set small goals initially such as increasing the number of hours you sleep per night, improving an aspect of nutrition or better managing stress. Once that change has been adopted, set another small goal and continue to move forward with specific needs. Don’t overwhelm yourself by taking on too many challenges at once.”

PERSONAL FINANCE

Another popular resolution involves improving  finances. According to Edward Jones Investments financial advisor Chad Abner, the best first step anyone wanting to save more or spend less can make is to create a budget.

“Start by writing down everything that you spend money on, not just the necessities,” Abner said. “It is the best way to get an overall picture of where your money is going. Then you will be ready to come up with a savings plan.”

Abner said when saving, the best practice is to plan for the unexpected while taking advantage of opportunities.

“Establish an emergency fund — not having one is one of the largest financial mistakes you can make,” he said. “You can’t plan for all expenses. Your furnace might die, your car may need a major repair, you may incur a sizable doctor’s bill — the list goes on and on. If you don’t have the money available to meet these costs, you might be forced to dip into your long-term investments. Also, take full advantage of any employer-sponsored retirement plan in which you are eligible to participate. Not enrolling if they offer matching contributions is like turning down free money.”

Abner said a common mistake people make is not saving money because they don’t think they have enough to start saving.

“People often think that because they can’t save large amounts, they shouldn’t worry about coming up with a plan,” he said. “Saving something is better than saving nothing. This can lead to people making the second mistake of thinking that saving for retirement is something they can worry about at a later time. Saving and investing early for retirement offers you two key benefits. First, the more time you give growth-oriented investments, the greater their growth potential. And second, by saving and investing for retirement early in your career, you will likely need to put away less money each year than you would if you waited until, say, your 40s or 50s.”

Other pieces of advice from Abner include avoiding consumer debt (credit card, etc.) as much as possible, keeping in mind how a mortgage or a business loan fits into your plan and your financial goals, and coming up with a plan to address debts you can stick to long-term in order to eliminate liabilities.

Abner urges anyone thinking about building their wealth to seek out advice, no matter what level of resources they have available.

“At Edward Jones Investments, we value assisting the individuals in our community to build for their and their family’s future. If you are not sure if you are on the right path, schedule an appointment and find out if you are where you need to be in order to accomplish your goals, whether that relates to retirement, saving for college or creating a legacy for your heirs. Just sitting down for a discussion can be the start of something important.”

QUITTING SMOKING

While overall smoking rates are down in the U.S., a sizable portion of the country still uses tobacco products.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2015, 15 out of every 100 people ages 18 and older currently smoked cigarettes. Of that number, about 68 percent said they would like to quit smoking completely.

Smoking is a longtime resolution when the new year rolls around, but ending a nicotine addiction can be extremely difficult.

The CDC — and by extension local organizations like the Clark County Health Department — has several tips to help people quit smoking. First on that list is to realize and write down why you want to quit.

“Really wanting to quit smoking is very important to how much success you will have in quitting,” according to the CDC website.

People quitting smoking should also learn to prepare for nicotine withdrawal. Understanding nicotine is addictive will help people prepare for the withdrawal symptoms, such as bad moods and an increased urge to smoke.

“There are many ways smokers quit, including using nicotine replacement products (gum and patches) or FDA-approved, non-nicotine cessation medications,” the organization says. “Some people do not experience any withdrawal symptoms. For most people, symptoms only last a few days to a couple of weeks. Take quitting one day at a time, even one minute at a time — whatever you need to succeed.”

Smokers should also remember there are resources available to them to help them quit. Free assistance is available at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-748-8669) or by visiting CDC’s tips from former smokers. Health care providers can also give assistance to people wanting to quit.

The Clark County Health Department offers the American Lung Association’s “Freedom From Smoking” tobacco cessation program. Upcoming class dates are Tuesdays Jan. 10 through Feb. 28. Class meet from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Home Health Agency, 273 Shoppers Drive. To register, contact Carolyn Burtner at 744-4482 ext. 1036 or by email at carolynm.burtner@ky.gov.

Finally, the CDC reminds smokers to remember some good news: “More than half of all adult smokers have quit, and you can, too. Millions of people have learned to face life without a cigarette.”