Archived Story

How to make a resolution

Published 8:51pm Tuesday, February 11, 2014

As I sat there talking with a new patient — we’ll call her Mary – for the first time, I could tell that she was frustrated. She believed she was too young to be on so many medications, and despite those medications she didn’t feel the way she wanted to. Mary worked in healthcare and had tried to be proactive with her health. She had gone to her last physician and asked for a checkup. Basic screening labs were obtained after which she began several medications. Other issues developed over the years and Mary was put on medications for sleep, fatigue and a few other things.

Fast forward a couple of years since joining our practice and Mary now feels like a new person. She is sleeping better, has more energy, is on fewer medications, and is 25 pounds lighter. She has a spark in her eyes, a new bounce in her step, and she is thrilled with the changes.

How did this transformation happen? Was it a magic pill? Or a revolutionary diet program? No. These changes came about because Mary made a commitment to herself to improve her health one step at a time and one day at a time.

Mary and I began our time together with a detailed history and exam, and then I obtained some additional tests for a more in-depth look at her cardiovascular and metabolic profile. This information provided an important baseline and context for Mary as a unique individual.

After reviewing her results in detail, we started talking about our plan, and I encouraged Mary to broaden her focus. For example, I asked her to stop focusing so much on specific weight targets and to end the process of jumping from one diet program to another. Instead I told Mary that weight loss, as well as improved sleep, more energy, and better lab results, would be side effects of a healthier lifestyle.

Mary’s objective would now be building optimal health, which is more than just getting to a certain weight. I told her that I have found the best way to get there is often by setting goals that are simple, achievable, and sustainable. In so doing momentum is gradually built. Before long goals that once seemed out of reach are now achievable, and frustration turns into optimism.

So, if you’re making resolutions for the New Year, consider taking big goals and breaking them up into smaller steps that are simple, achievable, and sustainable.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2014!

Dr. Christopher P. Dowd owns Cornerstone Private Practice in North Suffolk. He is Board Certified in Internal Medicine.

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