Whether or not you're one who makes New Year's resolutions, here are some things to think about to make 2012 a healthier one for you and your family.
H -- Health. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "The first wealth is health." Make your own health a priority this year. Health should be more than the absence of disease. Read on for tips to help you really feel good.
A -- Attitude. A positive attitude may not cure a disease. However, thinking positive can help you deal with misfortune, make the most of your situation and enjoy life more.
P -- Physical activity. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans the most health benefits occur with at least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking. Mark your calendar -- the Walk Kansas program starts March 18. The eight-week program will encourage and inspire you to become more physically active.
P -- People. Numerous studies show that social networks, whether formal (such as a church or social club) or informal (such as meeting with friends), make people less vulnerable to ill health and premature death.
Y -- Your body. Schedule physical checkups as needed -- eyes, teeth, mammogram, colonoscopy, general physical, etc.
N -- No! Rather than taking a time management class to learn to manage your "to do" list, consider starting a "don't do" list. Doing less may allow you to spend time doing more for your health and happiness and that of family and friends.
E -- Eat healthy. The United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) new MyPlate food guidance system recommends making smart choices from every food group. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. Switch to skim or 1 percent milk. Make at least half your grains whole. And, vary your protein choices by including seafood and beans.
W -- Wisdom. Take time to listen to your own body. Rather than setting your goals based on how fast other people walk or jog, how little sleep others can get by on, or how much someone else eats, concentrate on what makes YOU healthy.
Y -- Your hands. Handwashing is one of the most important ways to prevent the spread of infection and illness. Wash well and frequently using soap and warm water. Rub hands together for 15-20 seconds, the time it takes to sing the ABC song.
E -- Enough sleep. Many people are not getting enough sleep. Lack of sleep not only makes people less productive and more cranky, but creates a public safety problem as well. A recent poll found that more than half of adults (54 percent) have driven when drowsy at least once in the past year. Nearly one-third of drivers polled (28 percent) say they have nodded off or fallen asleep while driving a vehicle.
A -- Avoid portion distortion. Rather than worry so much about "what" you eat, consider "how much" you eat. Downsize portion sizes. Serve food on smaller plates. Eat from plates and bowls rather than packages and bags, so you see how much you're eating.
R -- Reading materials. Consider the source before starting a new drastic diet or exercise plan.
Beware of plans that promise quick, dramatic results or charge large fees for consultations, equipment or supplements.
Be wary of plans that rely solely on testimonials and statements from "professionals" with unusual-sounding degrees.
Wishing you a healthy and happy new year!