According to PubMed, the most popular New Year’s resolutions concern physical health (33 percent), weight loss (20 percent), changing eating habits (13 percent), personal growth (9 percent) and mental health/sleep (5 percent). Of those who vow to a resolution, 77 percent will maintain it after a week, decreasing to 55 percent after a month, 43 percent after three months, 40 percent after six months, with only 19 percent holding steadfast after two years.
The Philippine College of Lifestyle Medicine (PCLM) held a talk, “New Year, New You? A Lifestyle Medicine Guide to New Year’s Resolutions,” streamed live on Facebook and YouTube Jan. 19. Hosted by Dr. Aika Buenavista and Dr. Ann Rodrigues, the talk featured lifestyle medicine specialists Dr. Johann Mañez, Dr. Jan Dipasupil and Dr. Jowi Cruz, who shared tips to help viewers structure their goals.
What can help us manifest our New Year’s resolutions?
Mañez, considered the father of lifestyle medicine in the Philippines, explained, “Our minds are on autopilot. If you want to do something new, change your autopilot settings. Not with willpower, but through mind-setting. If you want to be successful in achieving your resolution, change has to start in the mind.”
Cruz agreed: “For smoking cessation, drinking, dieting, it’s the same. Prepare yourself for a known difficult battle. Have people around you who can coach you professionally.”
What should be the mindset of a person who wants to succeed in fulfilling their resolution?
“Don’t set goals above what you can really do,” Cruz advised. “We can’t realize our dreams in a week. Change will not happen overnight. It’s a process.
“Recognize the gradient of change. Start with your worst habits, then little by little, change yourself. Seventy percent want to quit smoking but only 10 percent succeed. When you fail, decide to quit smoking again. You have a better chance at making it the second or third time around because by then you would have learned how to address the symptoms of withdrawal.”
Cruz added that being an optimist helps. “Have a good set of advisers for your goal. Consult and recognize having good support in a lifestyle physician. You get help with proven methods and interventions, and possible medication or help for withdrawal symptoms.
“Every small win matters,” Rodrigues added.
What do we do if our companions/friends/family don’t support our health resolutions? “When you consult with your lifestyle physician, bring your support group with you to make them understand what your goal is so they understand the importance, how not addressing your problem can lead to chronic disease,” said Mañez. “Or, say, ‘Look, I’m serious about fixing my health.’ If your friends are true, they will respect that.”
How important is it for people who have chronic diseases to make changes in their lifestyles?
“Very,” said Mañez. “In 2018, the World Health Organization said that 71 percent are dying from chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis and even certain cancers, which are completely reversible just by applying some changes. With a plant-based diet, sleeping eight hours a day, quitting smoking and alcohol, exercising, we can halt the progression and even reverse these diseases.”
Do keto diets and intermittent fasting work?
Obesity and medical weight management specialist Dipasupil said, “Drastic dieting can help you in the short term. ‘What’s the long-term effect?’ is the more important question. With keto, you risk insulin resistance and increase in lipid profile. As for time-restricted feeding, is the quality of food good or bad? If it’s fatty or fried then you still won’t be able to lose weight.”
What exercises can you recommend to busy people? Are there health apps you can recommend?
“Nonexercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is the energy expended for daily activities. Walk, stand up, do housework. Stuck in traffic? Fidget, stretch. Start with 10 minutes and build it up until it becomes a habit. Use workout apps or default apps on your smartphone. Many apps are free,” said Dipasupil.
“New Year’s resolutions are effective in improving one’s health if they are achievable. It shouldn’t be a burden, steps should be gradual. If you’ve failed, maybe it’s time to consult a lifestyle medicine doctor. Start with your strengths,” said Dipasupil.
“We are effective only if the resolution happens. We are successful only if we walk toward that goal,” said Cruz. “So ’wag pabayaan. Even if you fail midway, there is no loss if you walked toward it.”
What are the common pitfalls why resolutions are not fulfilled?
Cruz said, “Expecting too much, not being educated about or understanding the timeline so people get frustrated. It’s not easy. But having a repeated sense of fulfillment will fuel or drive us to persist, so milestone setting with your physician or family/friends can help. Involve other people. Don’t go on your journey alone.” —CONTRIBUTED INQ