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Ask the Doctor: Important Resolutions for 2013 (and For Life)

January 28, 2013

Dr. Allison Ferris

As a relatively new mom (I have a three-year- old and an infant), I've come to realize that mothers really do know best.  In honor of moms everywhere, I present to you the top five resolutions you should stick to for 2013.

Go to bed

Sleep is such a necessary part of our day, yet many people do not devote enough time to it. We also do not always practice good sleeping habits.  First, aim for 6-8 hours of sleep per night.  Second, make your bed a place only for sleep.  Third, develop a routine before bed. Big bedtime mistakes include watching television in bed, using a computer in bed, or doing work right before bed.  Nix the bad habits, and just go to sleep.

Eat your vegetables (and fruits, too)

Many people make the resolution to lose weight.  Unfortunately, it becomes a daunting task that many people fail at doing.  Instead of focusing on some fad diet or magic pill, try this trick.  At dinner, imagine your plate cut in half.  Fill one half with vegetables (ideally raw or steamed—not drizzled in butter and salt).  Then cut the other half in half again—put your meat/protein in one section and a starch/carbohydrate (bread, rice, potato, pasta) in the other section.  For breakfast, add a piece of fruit.  At lunch, make sure you have at least one fruit and one vegetable.  For a snack, grab an apple or some carrot sticks.  Aim for 6 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.  Your weight will improve naturally.

Go outside and play

We've become a lazy world, too connected to our technology, from cable television and game systems to computers and smart phones.  Turn off the electronics and get outdoors.  Take a walk, ride your bike, play with your kids.  Aim for at least 30 minutes per day of physical activity.  Get your heart rate up.  It's not only good for your body, it's good for your soul.

Keep track of your own things

Make an appointment to see your doctor and learn your vital statistics:  BMI, glucose, cholesterol panel and blood pressure.  Your BMI is a calculation of weight for height. It’s how doctors determine healthy vs. overweight vs. obese.  Your glucose determines whether you have or are at risk for developing diabetes.  Your cholesterol panel includes four numbers: total, LDL ("bad" cholesterol), HDL ("good" cholesterol) and triglycerides.  Your cholesterol panel is one component that determines your risk of heart disease and stroke.  Blood pressure is another factor that contributes to risk of heart disease, stroke, as well as kidney disease.  Know your numbers.  And then work with your doctor to improve them if necessary.

Drink more water

Instead of drinking that soda or energy drink, have a glass of water.  Your body doesn't need the calories or sugar; it needs hydration.  When you feel hungry, try drinking a glass of water first before grabbing a snack.  Often our brain misinterprets a thirsty signal as one of hunger, and we eat something when what we really need is a drink.  Staying well-hydrated will also help you have more energy and focus, not to mention healthier kidneys!  Aim for about 64 ounces per day. 

In 2013, make it your goal to be more in control of your health.  

Dr. Allison Ferris is an assistant professor in the Division of Internal Medicine at Drexel University College of Medicine. She sees patients at Miller/Boselli Internal Medicine at 205 N. Broad Street. For more information, visit www.drexelmedicine.org.