New Year, New Healthy You

Charles E. Milam, Principal Director for Military Community and Family Policy

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New Year’s resolutions don’t always last as long as we intend.  We make them, we try for a little while and then we break them. And is it really any wonder? We roll right from the season of “just one more cookie” into a new year, thinking a fresh calendar page alone will push us to say, “just one more mile” on the jogging trail.

Resolutions flop for several reasons. We make excuses, we get busy with the real life that resumes after we stuff the holidays back into the attic, or we get discouraged when we don’t see immediate results. Health doesn’t happen overnight, though. It takes time and continued commitment to make a lasting change, and it isn’t enough to add exercise without healthy eating habits, or vice versa.

If you’ve resolved to get healthy this year, you have plenty of support in your corner and on your installation. And, while I can’t create motivation for you, I can point you to the support that will keep you on track.

You’ve heard that “we are what we eat,” so let’s choose healthy foods to be healthy people. Before jumping on the bandwagon of the latest fad diet, remember that you want lasting health, not a temporary fix. Learn healthy habits through ChooseMyPlate.gov, and take control of what you eat instead of just eating what is trending in the diet world. There, you’ll find everything from portion sizes — which can help you when it’s time to grocery shop or fill your plate — to mouthwatering recipes that will convince you that healthy tastes as good as it feels.

Do you eat in front of the TV or computer? Do you snack on chips and salsa while waiting for your meal? We’re probably all guilty of making food something that we multitask. We eat on the run or we eat without attention. But, keeping tabs on your calorie intake with the SuperTracker can help you become a more mindful eater. You can even track your physical activity and find nutrition information for more than 8,000 foods in one place.

OK, sure, that all sounds great, but it’s expensive to eat healthy, right? Wrong. Your commissary offers an average savings of 30 percent or more on groceries. It’s hard to argue with savings like that. Keep  healthy foods from going to waste by adopting a meal planning system. You might find that planning your weekly meals and buying only healthy ingredients for those meals can plan variety into your menu. Meal planning can also cut your grocery spending and any unhealthy impulse buys that can turn into unhealthy  snacking at home.

A healthy diet gets you halfway there, but a healthy lifestyle means getting active too. Fitness doesn’t have to be intimidating with Morale, Welfare and Recreation, and it doesn’t even have to feel like “working” out — it can be heart-pumping fun alone or with family and friends. Swim, hike, bike and more — and yes, they have the traditional fitness center or fitness classes if you just want to get down to business.

The Department of Defense is fighting for your health just as hard as you are, and each and every one of us wants you to meet and possibly even exceed your goals for a new, healthy life. You can find support each step of the way through free Military OneSource health and wellness coaching. And just as we encourage healthy changes in your life, we are practicing what we preach with projects like the Healthy Base Initiative. We want military installations to emphasize and inspire health with more nutritious food choices, convenient fitness and tobacco-free living. You’re improving your health, so we’re improving ours right alongside you.

This year, your resolutions for better health are going to stick. You are motivated, empowered and equipped with the knowledge and support to get you there. Check in periodically with your goals on the SuperTracker or your health and wellness coach. Mark your goals on the calendar, and involve your family — even your kids by using the 5210 plan — and friends in your life changes for added accountability.

This is your year, and I wish you the healthiest year yet — the first of many more.

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New Year, New Healthy You