Health Resolutions for 2019

Popular New Year’s resolutions include losing weight, exercising more, and getting more sleep. Finding the motivation and determination to put the work in to accomplish these goals is very challenging for most people. It is extremely important to set realistic goals and make sure we prioritize our mental health just as much as our physical health.

People listening to this podcast are probably looking for suggestions on how to create some New Year’s resolutions related to health and wellness, so let’s start with what seems to be the most common goal, to lose weight. How should people set a realistic weight loss goal?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: That’s a fair question. One of the things I always talk about, and if you listen to any podcast before it’s really about commitment. Any time you’re looking to change anything in your life, you need to be committed to it, and you need to make a commitment to a program and stay with it. That seems to be the hardest thing, and really what it all comes from is the internal motivation.

We’ve all known people who have tried to quit smoking. We all know that smoking is bad for you. The people who are smoking know that smoking is bad for them and that it makes their breath smell and it’s not good for their teeth. Yet they do it anyway because internally, they are not ready to quit. The one thing I know is it’s an inside out decision to make that decision to quit. It’s not something that I can tell someone to do.

They need to be ready to set those goals, and losing weight is simple. You need to exercise more and eat less. Some people will need some guidance, and there are plenty of people out there who can work with you on weight loss. We have a registered dietician in our office named Diane who is absolutely amazing, and I watch her patients come in and go and I see the actual changes in their bodies.

I’ve recently achieved a weight loss goal, I lost 30 pounds over the course of two years, and I worked very hard at it. I just made some very basic changes to my diet, and stuck with them. As you stay with a program, it just gets easier and easier.

It’s really about the internal motivation, and that’s what’s going to help you set that realistic goal. So, when you’re ready to make the change, then you set the goal, and then you actually work with a health professional if you’re having trouble achieving it. But honestly, it’s just having that motivation and being ready to go at that given time.

Setting a new fitness goal is also a very popular resolution. Should fitness goals be set in smaller, more attainable increments, or is it better to set the bar high right out of the gate?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Well some people like to set these big, high, right out of the gate goals, which is fine. If you say hey, I want to lose 30 pounds, then you have to come up with a plan on how to do it. So, you’ve got to have goals, but you need to find out what the end game is and then work backwards from it.

One of the parallels that I see is something that we always talk about in financial security and retirement. You need to figure out well, how much money do I need to retire? Do I need to have $2 million dollars, or do I need $500,000 dollars? Whatever that number is, let’s say it’s $100,000 dollars that I need to retire, and I know that’s a low number, but it’s a nice round number and it’s easy to work with. If I know that I have 40 years from when I start to work in my 20’s, and I need to make that $100,000 dollars, I’m just going to break it up into those increments, and then know how much I need to make each year. Not how much I need to make, how much I need to set aside for me.

So, if my goal is to lose 30 pounds in 30 weeks, then I’m going to break that up into alright, I need to lose one pound a week, and then after 30 weeks I’m actually going to be at my goal weight. Breaking it up is a good idea, but you need to know what your end game is so then you can plan accordingly, and I find that’s the best way to set a fitness goal, particularly with weight loss.

Very simple, and dieting, working out, correcting the spine, whatever it is, it just takes commitment, repetition. Figure out what the end game is, and then break it up into appropriate action steps that are actually achievable in the short term. Because if you just set one big goal, and you don’t monitor the progress, it’s going to be much harder to get there. Goals are basically your destination, and then planning is the roadmap that will actually get you there.

Many healthy people do not get regular checkups or physicals because they don’t have time, they forget to schedule the appointments or they feel it’s not necessary. What are important medical checkups you think people should include in their 2019 health resolutions?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Well they’re always going to be a little more individually focused depending on what your individual health challenges are. I mean, obvious stuff, you should be seeing your dentist a couple times a year, you should get a checkup, you should get your spine checked regularly. Anything that you care about, you should have checked regularly. It’s just that simple, we don’t wait until our engine seizes and then say oh gee, it’s a good time to change my oil now. You change your oil and you see the mechanic to make sure that your car continues to operate.

And that’s why you should get checkups. Not having time is really in my book, not a good excuse. Everyone’s busy, but you have to make time for what’s important. You have to set your priorities. We have a saying in our office, don’t sacrifice your health for wealth. There’s an example of a gentleman who came to me for many years who had a host of spinal problems, as he was in his 80s, but when I really got to know him and speak with him, he never did anything to really care for his spine throughout the course of his lifetime, until it started to hurt. Then once he had problems, it’s a lot harder to get rid of those problems then to prevent them. So just a little bit of prevention would have enhanced the quality of his life. He didn’t really get to enjoy his golden years and all the money that he made because he had health challenges that really limited his ability to travel and do those other things.

The point I’m trying to make is you’ve got to make the time for what’s important. Any checkup, any health professional can help you with their time, energy and knowledge, but you have to make the time to get there in the first place, it’s just that simple.

Okay, now switching gears a little. Mental health has become more widely discussed in recent years. Why should people focus on their own mental health and make that a priority in 2019?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: That’s a great statement, because pretty much wherever your mind goes, your body goes. We’ve talked about stress on your show before, and how it effects the body. And stress really comes from fight or flight. When we have things that are stressful to us, we interpret those things, and our body shifts chemistry. We create a lot more cortisol and adrenaline, which puts your body on high alert. Your visual acuity and your pain sensitivity goes up when we’re in stress.

Mental health is super important because we all know that guy who’s bitter and angry and in danger of losing his job. He’s stressed out all the time and he’s sick all the time. Someone who’s got a new job, got a new girlfriend, they’ve got that spring in their step, they’re moving along and they look great. When they’re under less stress, they have less of those hormones and their body actually heals and functions better. When we have those stress hormones floating through our body, it actually shuts down our immune system, because when we’re in stress and we’re not in good mental health, our body spends more time trying to just maintain it in fight or flight, or in that survival mode, rather than healing. When your body heals is truly when it’s at rest. So, if you’re not getting good quality rest because you’re stressed out, because your mental health and hygiene are poor, then basically what you’re going to see is an overloaded, stressed out body that’s not good at fighting infection, and will be sick, and will not function at it’s highest levels.

Someone who’s really agitated and stressed out, they’re never going to be at the top of their game and be healthy. So it’s really an important thing. Some people need professional help. They might need someone to talk to. Some people might be able to use self stress management techniques like yoga and meditation. Although chiropractic can’t stop your stress, it can certainly help you with the physical manifestations of stress, the pain and reduced function that often come along with it by getting pressure off the nerves and enhancing nerve system function and helping the body deal with that. Also, exercise is another important way of battling stress, because it helps you burn out the adrenaline and cortisol that build up in your body.

You did just touch on sleep, but here’s my question: Getting more sleep is a big issue for a lot of people. So, should that be considered as a top New Year’s health resolution?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: I mean, absolutely. If you know you’re getting poor quality sleep, the less you sleep, the harder it is for your body to heal and recuperate and regenerate. Our bodies are constantly replacing damaged cells with healthy, new ones and that happens at rest. So, if you’re not getting good rest, your body’s not going to heal as efficiently as it should. And that is a very important thing.

There was an interesting book that, I haven’t read it cover to cover, so I don’t want to claim that I did, but I glanced at it and read through a couple of chapters, by Ariana Huffington, about sleep. She had a major crisis in her life because she was burning the candle at both ends, and some of her insights in that book were really remarkable. I highly recommend getting that book if you know anyone who has sleep issues or stress issues. That is a really great resource, and her insights were very valuable, and she really changed her life and talks about it in the book. I found it was a great quality read.

Basically, talking about rest, yes, it’s common sense, but it’s hard. We’re under a lot of pressure these days, people have to get here, we have to do that, they’re trying to squeeze the most out of life, so yeah, sleep often gets compromised. It is absolutely one of the top New Year’s resolution goals even for myself, because we’re working so hard, and there are times where I get home late, and I don’t get enough rest and it affects my performance as well. So, I guess I need to listen to my own advice on my own show.

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