How to stay motivated and stick with your healthy new year resolutions

Don’t give up on your health goals, alludes a new study. Your efforts will we well rewarded

Don’t give up on your health goals, alludes a new study. Your efforts will we well rewarded

It’s week two of the new year, and chances are your resolve to take better care of yourself in the year to come might be starting to slip.

Don’t give up, alludes a new study. Your efforts will we well rewarded, and I have a few science-based tips that can help you keep at it.

Healthy lifestyle and cancer risk

Healthy habits are proven to lower risk of heart disease, diabetes and dementia. A new study in Ecancermedicine, a journal from the European Institute of Oncology, set out to quantify how much of a difference these healthy habits have on cancer risk.

The prospective study included about 350,000 40-69 year olds, who were followed for an average of 5 years. The participants were asked about several habits: smoking, alcohol intake, physical activity and diet. Healthy diet scores were based on the number of portions of raw or cooked veggies and fresh or dried fruit consumed daily, 5-a-day put the participants in the “healthy” eating group. Weight and height were also measured for BMI assessment.

The number of healthy lifestyle habits was inversely correlated with cancer risk. Each additional good habit reduced cancer risk by 8 percent. Following all 5 habits -- normal BMI, moderate alcohol consumption (14 units or less per week), regular exercise, eating 5-a-day fruits and veggies, and no smoking -- reduced cancer risk by one third, and delayed the age in which cancer appeared by 6 years!

These findings are quite similar to those of another study following another cohort of almost 400,000 people for 11 years that found that adopting guidelines for diet, nutrition, physical activity, and healthy weight was associated with a 25 percent reduction of the risk of developing most types of cancer.

Ask your doctor about this magic drug

These studies focused just on cancer. The evidence regarding diabetes and heart disease is even more impressive.

If there were a drug that could lower your cancer risk by 25 or 33 percent, wouldn’t you be urging your doctor to prescribe it for you? I bet you would, especially if there were no nasty side effects to warn about, since the treatment is absolutely 100 percent safe.

So let’s make 2018 the year in which you implement at least one more healthy habit.

Tips and tricks to help you keep your wellness resolutions

Connect your resolution to something you already do:

Pick a cue – something you do every day, preferably something you like to do – and make it prompt you to exercise, chop that salad or drink some water. Your favorite show or podcast can be a reminder to do a set of pushups or squats. Brushing your teeth can be attached to practicing mindfulness for a few minutes or to washing fruit to pack in your bag for a healthy snack. Going on lunch break could be a reminder to climb a few sets of stairs on your way back to your desk.

Keep it for 30-60 days:

It takes a while until a habit is established, until it becomes routine and automatic. The first few months are hard, but after a habit is set, it’s programmed in, and carrying on is almost effortless. If your streak has been broken and you’ve skipped a day or two, don’t give up, and patiently start over, reminding yourself that it gets easier with time. Some habits are easier to adopt, some harder, but time’s on your side.

Be kind to yourself:

Adopt an inner voice that treats you as you’d treat your best friend. What would you say to your friend that says they – despite their resolution – didn’t exercise all week? You certainly wouldn’t deride them, would you? You’d tell them that it’s understandable, and that today’s a new day, a new opportunity, right?

Keep at it! 

Dr. Ayala