New Year's Resolutions have one common theme: they are a goal towards the new and improved you. The stress of resolutions comes through in about February when goals are not met, and disappointment sets in. Sometimes though, the reason goals do not happen is not the fault of the person setting them. It’s tough to do things like getting healthy or get into shape without a clear plan, realistic expectations, and goal setting. That’s why UNC Lenoir Health Care has launched its Live Long Lenoir program. It has been implemented to help you reach those New Year's goals for better health and longer life.
Live Long Lenoir https://www.livelonglenoir.org/ was created by a team of dedicated health professionals who have one goal in mind: a healthier Lenoir County, starting with YOU. There are nine health goals you can implement today with moderate effort, and we are here to support you while you make these important life changes that will enable you to live longer.
- Stop Eating Mainly Processed Foods – Americans today are busier than ever, so it makes sense that many of them turn to processed foods to help make life a little easier. But consuming processed foods has a high cost, in the long run, resulting in more diabetes, cancer, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. Eating fresh foods, including lean meats, whole grains, fruit, and vegetables (frozen fruits and veggies are a great option) will decrease your risk of these diseases. Cooking large batches of food at one time and freezing for convenient later use will help with any time crunch.
- Stop Smoking – Quitting smoking has incredible health benefits that are seen almost immediately. Your blood pressure and circulation will see improvement quickly and your risk of getting cancer will decrease yearly. If you want to quit, there are some tools that can help! One is the NC Quitline, which you can reach at 800.QUIT.NOW (800.784.8669). Callers can speak with trained tobacco quitting specialists. Another resource is available at UNC Lenoir Health Care – their 2021 Quit For Life Tobacco Cessation Program. You can register by contacting Gail Carraway at 252.522.7014.
- Stop Stressing – We know this is easier said than done, especially in 2020. But stress takes its toll on your body and can shorten your life. There are many ways to relieve stress: deep breathing, journaling, meditating, and exercise all relieve stress. Even just a few minutes of these activities will lower your stress levels.
- Stop Cheating Your Night’s Sleep – The body needs sleep to rest and recharge. Sleeping less than six hours or more than nine has been shown to put people at greater risk of death. A good night’s sleep can also ward off stress, depression, and heart disease. To increase the likelihood of a good night’s sleep, keep your bedroom dark and cool and remove distractions like television and other electronic devices. Breathing exercises and meditation can also help. If you are still having trouble with sleep after implementing these measures, please contact your personal physician. If you do not have a personal physician, you can locate one on the UNC Lenoir Health Center website.
- Moderate Your Alcohol Intake – Heavy alcohol consumption can increase your risk of liver, heart, and pancreatic disease. Moderate alcohol consumption is linked to a decrease in more than one disease, including a 17% - 18% decrease in your risk of premature death. A 29-year study showed that men who preferred wine were 34% less likely to die early than those who preferred beer or spirits. Wine is especially protective against heart disease, diabetes, neurological disorders, and metabolic syndrome. Please note that there is no research that indicates that the benefits of moderate drinking are greater than abstaining from alcohol – so do not start drinking if you do not now.
- Exercise - Make it a Habit – Did you know that moderate exercise (30 minutes a day) can help cut your risk for death and chronic disease and improve mental health? According to Business Insider and the Centers for Disease Control, only 22.9% of Americans aged 18-64 met the goal of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of high-intensity activity per week. If you want to increase your physical activity, walk your dog, go for walks during breaks, use the stairs instead of the elevator, or get outside for a fun weekend activity like hiking.
- Enjoy Plenty of Fruits and Vegetables – Fruits and vegetables are the cornerstones of any healthy diet. They provide fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Shoot for five servings a day – if you eat a serving of fruit at breakfast, a salad at lunch, an apple as a mid-afternoon snack, and veggies plus a banana for dessert at dinner, you will cover those five servings easily. When you are hungry for a snack, reach for carrots and hummus instead of chips. Those little changes make a big difference.
- Reduce Salt and Sugar Intake – Too much salt consumption can increase your blood pressure and cause cardiovascular disease. Reduce salt intake by avoiding processed foods, cooking with different spices instead of salt, and keeping salt off your table. Sugar is delicious but sugary snacks are best enjoyed as an occasional treat. Increased sugar consumption can lead to higher blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, diabetes, and fatty liver disease — which are all linked to an increased risk for heart attack and stroke.
- Get Social – Studies show that loneliness increases the risk of early death by 45% by weakening the immune system and raising blood pressure, while those with close ties to others have a 50% lower risk of dying. During COVID-19 it can be difficult to get the interaction needed. Utilize Zoom to stay in contact with others or form a pod of friends and family who are practicing COVID-19 safety methods. Call friends instead of texting. Meet a friend outside for a safe walk (you will be getting exercise AND interaction with this move). If you find yourself feeling depressed or lonely, please reach out to a trusted healthcare provider who can help you with self-care.
To help you achieve your New Year’s Resolutions towards health in 2021, UNC Lenoir Health Care has implemented is the January Positivity Challenge. Its mission is to help you start the new year with a renewed passion for a healthy life. The goal is to start 2021 with renewed hope and positivity to impact our personal lives, and the lives of our friends, family, and neighbors. It will help you improve mindfulness and engage in more positive behaviors, participate in more self-care, and renew your spirit. You can register by:
Visiting In Person: Tuesday, December 22 from 12:00 - 12:30 pm at UNC Lenoir Health Care at the Wellness Center Carport Canopy or Tuesday, December 29 from 5:00 - 5:30 pm at UNC Lenoir Health Care at the Wellness Center Carport Canopy.
Registering Online: You may register anytime by clicking on the Register Now button at this link or by messaging the Minges Wellness Center Facebook page.
At UNC Lenoir, we have a goal for healthier living for you! Do not hesitate to reach out to us to ask about any of these programs. We are here to help.