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Roadmap to Well-Being

So how’s that New Year’s resolution to drop a few pounds going? Are you scarfing down a hamburger you picked up in the drive-thru with a creamy vanilla shake on the side? Yep, thought so.

Why is it so hard to keep our health resolutions? We know we should eat better and exercise more, and we even know how to do it in most instances. So why can’t we stick to it?

Dr. Randall Wright, co-author of The Wright Choice: Your Family's Prescription For Healthy Eating, Modern Fitness and Saving Money, says the main problem is that we’re not planning our health. We plan our finances, we plan our vacations, we plan when to have kids. But even though we can’t enjoy any of life’s experiences fully without good health, we skip the planning process for it.

Wright says we should sit down on our own or with our families and map out a health plan just like we would a financial plan with a broker. “Assess where you are now,” he says. “Visit your doctor; get your weight, your blood pressure, your cholesterol checked.” Just because you feel good does not necessarily mean you’re healthy, he says. For example, heart disease and diabetes are chronic diseases that often have no immediate symptoms.

Then start making changes gradually enough that you can stick to them. No need to get a membership at Gold’s Gym and eat nothing but whey protein and baby carrots. Because let’s face it: You won’t stick to it if it’s too hard. You have to acclimate yourself to a healthier lifestyle. “Just as there are no real ‘get rich quick’ schemes,” Wright says, “there are no ‘get fit quick’ schemes either.”

Remember to check your health as you do your bank account. “A lot of people don’t like to count calories. If you don’t, however, you’re not investing in your health,” Wright says. “You don’t say ‘Well, I think I have enough money,’ so what makes you think you haven’t eaten too many calories today?”

Simple Tips for Following the Path to Health

A lot of people think getting healthy is an overwhelming task requiring loads of deprivation. But you can make changes gradually, ease into a new routine and do so while hardly noticing you’ve made a change. Pretty soon, you’ve got a whole new mindset about eating and exercise. Here are Dr. Randall Wright’s tips on how to get going:

– Keep a food journal or use a nutrition app and track what you eat. Then make one small tweak that will cut your calories. Don’t overhaul your diet; just take out one of those cookies you eat every day.

– Do a vice check. Pick one vice per month to work on. Maybe you eat too many chips, watch too much TV, don’t get enough sleep or drink too much soda. Pick one of those vices and eliminate it for the month.

– Start small and start at home. If you’ve never exercised, walk just five minutes a day for a week then increase the walking time another five minutes the next week. Pretty soon, you’ll have a good habit.

– Just like you make a household budget, make an eating plan. Plan your meals for the week, including snacks, and stick to the plan. If almonds are on the menu for snack time, don’t grab a cookie instead.

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