By Deneece Ferrales
For many of us, the new year means time to set our new year’s resolution(s) — a goal or set of goals that are generally designed to help one become happier, healthier, more successful, and/or have increased life enjoyment. According to several studies, health goals are the most common resolutions.
In the United States, exercising more, losing weight, and better mental health are among the top five resolutions every year. These are important, especially in light of the COVID pandemic continuing to limit our contact with others and limiting how and when we can participate in healthy activities such as exercise or even the ability to access healthy foods.
Keeping up a healthy exercise routine and healthy eating are imperative both to our physical and our mental health. Unfortunately, despite our best intentions, many of our resolutions will be abandoned before January ends.
The collective wisdom regarding resolutions has always been that discipline is key and that if we fail at keeping a resolution, it is because of poor self-discipline. However, simply telling ourselves to do it does not lead to success. According to US News & World Reports, we normally set resolutions based on our Christmas excesses (eating, failing to get exercise during the holidays, etc.) without preparing ourselves for the changes we plan to make in our lives.
There is a discomfort that comes with change, even when that change leads to feeling better. We have to readjust our schedules for exercise, amend our shopping habits to seek out healthier foods, or make other intentional changes to our daily routines and habits. This is stressful because the act of change, any change, produces emotional friction.
If we have not determined when and how we plan to exercise or made a plan for any grocery shopping changes needed to be able to purchase healthier foods, then we are doomed to fail when we experience that transient discomfort. It is important to plan for the change and give yourself a step-by-step guide to when and how each change will occur. Even with the best plans, transient discomfort will occur, but it is much easier to follow a well-thought-out plan through the change than to add further stress from indecision.
Here are some tips for keeping those healthy new year’s resolutions:
- Turn your broad health resolutions into specific goals with steps for accomplishing those goals. I like using SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timed). SMART helps us think out exactly how and when we plan to make our changes and then gives us time limits for accomplishing our goals. So instead of having a resolution that says, “Get more exercise,” your resolution reads, “Take a mile-long walk 4 times a week for the next three months.”
- Think small. Set your goals for something accomplishable. You may want to run in next year’s marathon, but you have not begun to train yet. Setting a goal that is not reachable or that will require work over a long period of time is likely to lead to disappointing results and goal abandonment. It might be better to start with a smaller goal, like running a mile or running 3 times a week, and as you reach each goal, set another until you are ready to run that marathon.
- Consider your why. Setting goals that lead to better health is always a good idea. The meaning of those goals is different for each person. One person may be diabetic and interested in lowering their A1C, while another person may want to increase stamina to be able to participate in more activities. Whatever your reason, this can be what keeps you motivated on those days when you are not feeling it. If your goals revolve around exercise and/or healthier eating, try to stay away from an appearance-focused why.
- Keep it all in the family! Parents have to consider their children’s needs, which are sometimes unpredictable. Setting a health resolution for the whole family makes reaching your goals a “family affair” and prevents you from having to choose between your family and your own personal growth.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation published a report titled, “State of Childhood Obesity: Prioritizing Children’s Health During the Pandemic.” The report states that more than 15% of children (1 in 7) between the ages of 10 and 17 are obese. Childhood obesity leads to a host of health problems in adulthood. For this reason, including the children in developing healthy goals now will give them a foundation for continuing healthy practices.
If setting a family health resolution, call a family meeting so everyone has input. Define what a resolution is so that the entire family understands the importance of setting the goal. Talk about your family’s good health habits and bad ones to determine the best family resolution.
- Write down your goals/resolutions. Writing down your resolutions helps make your goals more intentional. Looking back at the goals can help motivate you and remind you how far you have come toward achieving your goals.
- Share your resolution with others. Telling other people about your goals can help hold you accountable. It can also help you find others who are working on similar goals so that you can achieve them together. Find someone else who wants to exercise and schedule walks or grocery shop together.
- Use technology to your advantage. There are a myriad of apps for your phone that can support you in your quest to meet your goals.
- Look at your goals frequently and review your progress. There are a number of free goal tracking apps that can assist you with this.
- It’s not over just because you veer off course. We all veer off course sometimes. Maybe you had a bad week and weren’t able to walk or you were not able to shop at your regular grocery store and thus had to buy more pre-packaged and less healthy foods. It’s okay. Look back and celebrate the progress you have made and how far you have come then readjust so that you are able to continue moving forward despite the disruption.
Let’s make 2022 a year of healthier living by learning to plan, set, and achieve our health goals. Have a happy and healthy new year!
Deneece Ferrales, Ph.D., is director of health initiatives with Prosper Waco.
By Susan Menninger Krause
Did you know that walking is one of the easiest, least expensive, most accessible ways to improve your health?
Walking will help you maintain a healthy weight, lose body fat, improve cardiovascular fitness, strengthen bones and muscles, improve balance and coordination, and increase energy. It also can help prevent or manage conditions such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. And walking can also improve your mood, cognition, memory, and sleep.
It’s not complicated. There’s no pressure. No elaborate or pricey equipment or memberships are necessary. You control your schedule, your distance, where you go, and who you go with. Just put one foot in front of the other and join “Let’s Walk Waco” this fall.
If you’re looking to start or continue your walking journey, join the “Let’s Walk Waco” community-wide challenge. This walking challenge is sponsored by the Live Well Waco Coalition and the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District. This free eight-week program begins Sept. 20 and runs through Nov. 15. Registration begins Aug. 30.
You can create a team of your friends, neighbors, family, or co-workers or join a team and get the chance to meet and make new connections. Anyone can join, and McLennan County residents who log their miles may win prizes along the way.
For information on how to register, create, or join a team, visit our website. There you will also find information about community center parks and indoor walking opportunities, City parks and trails, frequently asked questions, and other helpful tips and resources. Come join the fun and “Let’s Walk Waco.”
Susan Menninger Krause is manager of parks and rec facilities and programs for the City of Waco Parks and Recreation. Susan formerly was branch executive director at Waco Family YMCA. Before coming to Waco, she worked 16 years at Greater Joliet Area YMCA near Chicago. Susan holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Texas at Dallas and a master’s degree in kinesiology from the University of North Texas. She and her husband, Ken, have two sons, Zachary and Tyler, both are in college.
Act Locally Waco also has an informal group of walkers called Waco Walks. There is more information on our Waco Walks web page.
The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].
By Erik Romanov
So, you find yourself sitting on the couch watching TV and while channel surfing, and you come across the Summer Olympics: All of those world class athletes performing super human physical feats of speed, endurance, and strength. Hey, who doesn’t love watching the Olympics! Definitely one of my favorites! Suddenly your adrenaline swells, and an instant burst of motivation hits you! And then…just as fast as it comes, there it goes! Well, maybe not totally gone. Whether motivated by the Olympic spirit or simply a decision to get back into shape, you make the decision to get up off the couch and commit to get regular exercise. Where do you start? How do you start? Once you start, how do you keep up the motivation? Ta da! Enter the Waco Striders Running Club!
The Waco Striders Running Club was started back in 1979 by a simple group of locals with the same goals in mind: Get some exercise through the sport of running but, most importantly, have fun doing it. Most people in town now usually just use the moniker “The Striders.” That just sort of happened, kind of like how Federal Express became Fedex. “Striders” works great, unless, of course, you are trying to route someone to the website!
The Striders Vision and Mission statement really sum up the essence of what and who we are:
“Vision and Mission – It is the goal of the Waco Strider’s to share our love of running by bringing people together from all walks of life. We work hard to provide a safe, healthy, happy environment to run and socialize while supporting our community and local charitable organizations. This is accomplished by hosting a variety of weekly training runs, t-shirt sales and innumerable organized events throughout the year.
The Waco Striders Running Club is a non-profit organization committed to the overall health and well-being of its members. We hope to use our passion for running to build lifelong friendships, provide encouragement, improve ourselves and enhance our community”
Finding the Striders is generally not a difficult task. Weekly group runs take place throughout Waco and Woodway. If you have trouble finding them just look for the gigantic group of runners moving single file throughout Cameron Park, along Poage Park, or descending upon Whitehall Park. Wherever you find us, we always greet passing motorists and other runners with a kind smile or wave. That’s just how we are!
Oh, but once you find the Strider’s, look out! You now have friends for life! How so, you ask? Well, who looks out for your health and well-being? Friends do! Who holds you accountable? Friends do! Who keeps you motivated when the last thing you want to do is go exercise? Friends do! And who is willing to give you the shirt off their backs? Friends! Friends! Friends! We are the Waco Striders!
Probably the most impactful role we play in our local community is that of “giver.” We give scholarships to children of our members to help with college or technical training schools. We give our time and services to an array of local events to maximize the return to these other great non-profit organizations. Most importantly, we give encouragement to all who cross our paths in the pursuit of making better life choices, physical or otherwise.
This is who my Waco Striders are, and I hope others will be encouraged and not intimidated to become part of the greatest community group in all of Waco!
Erik Romanov is a 53-year old retired Air Force veteran. He is passionate about triathlons and people. He has been married 30 years with two adult daughters who both did the Ironman Waco race with him.
Whether it’s playing trumpet in the “Friday Band” at MCC, or riding with the Waco Knight Riders, or an afternoon playing with the Waco Disc Golf Association, one of the wonderful things about Waco is that there are lots of ways to find community here. Where do you find community in Waco? Would you be interested in writing about it? If so, let us know. Email [email protected]. If you have an idea for a post. You could be seeing your own picture on this page!