6 Things Your Doctor Wants on Your New Year’s Resolution

It’s a new year. And with every new year comes the infamous “New Year’s Resolutions.”

We thought it would be a great idea to talk about the top 6 goals you should have for 2019 according to your doctor. These "resolutions" are meant to help you improve your health and find medical problems early!

1. Get Recommended Screening Tests

Make sure you are up-to-date with all the recommended screening tests for someone of your age and gender. This may mean having your cholesterol checked, having a mammogram(MAM-O-GRAM) — A screening test that uses x-rays to look for breast cancer performed, getting the dreaded colonoscopy(KOW-LAH-NAH-SKUH-PEE) — A procedure that examines the colon or large intestine, or receiving a CT scan(C-T SCAN) — An imaging technique that uses x-rays to see the inside of the body of your chest (if you smoke or have smoked), just to name a few. Click here1 for a more complete list of possible screening recommendations. And you can fill out this short form2 to get a list specific to your age and gender.

Want to learn more about cancer screening? Check this out.

Screening is complex and highly tailored to you and your personal risk for developing a condition. Your risk for a disease can be impacted by many things, such as personal choices and family history. So, talk to your doctor. He or she may recommend early or additional screening tests based on your personal risk factors.

Related Article: Am I at Risk for Breast Cancer? How Do I Know?

2. Update Your Immunizations

Immunizations (aka vaccines(VAX-ZEENS) — A treatment used to teach your immune system how to recognize certain foreign invaders and prevent disease) are a very effective way to prevent diseases that can cause significant problems like infections, such as influenza(IN-FLEW-EN-ZAH) — A viral infection that causes a fever and severe aching (the flu), many types of pneumonia(NEW-MOAN-YAH) — Infection of the lungs, shingles(SHING-GULS) — A virus that causes a painful blistering rash, tetanus(TEH-TAH-NUHS) — A bacterial infection that is transmitted through cuts in the skin and can cause severe muscle spasms, mumps(MUMPS) — A viral infection spread through coughing and saliva that causes inflammation of the parotid gland and other organs in the body, and rubella(RUE-BEH-LA) — A viral infection that causes a rash, fever, and sore throat. There is even one to prevent cervical cancer(SIR-VEH-KIL CAN-SIR) — Abnormal growth that originates from cervical tissue! The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) has a complete list of adult immunizations and recommendations for when to receive them—click here.3 Like screening tests, recommendations are based on age, gender, and risk for a condition.3

3. Stop Tobacco Use & Vaping

All forms of tobacco use can cause many health problems like cancer of the lungs, mouth, throat, bladder, esophagus, and many more. Tobacco can also cause heart disease(HART DUH-ZEEZ) — A condition that affects the hearts function, which can lead to chest pain and heart attacks, which leads to heart attacks, emphysema (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)), poor circulation to your legs (Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)), increased risk for strokes, and more. These conditions develop over time and increase or worsen as your tobacco intake continues.4,5

Vaping is a new alternative to smoking, and its health risk is still being determined. Vaping is NOT a “safe” substitute for tobacco use or smoking.6,7 Don’t be fooled into thinking that vaping is okay. We know that nicotine creates a very good feeling, but the withdrawal is awful.

Stay away. Don’t start.

Bottom line: If you use any form of tobacco (like smoking) or vape, quit. There are many new and improved options to help you. If you are not currently using tobacco, don’t start and avoid second-hand smoke.

4. Wear Your Seatbelt

Accidents happen. They are called accidents because you don’t plan them, and you don't know they're coming. If one happens to you, a seatbelt can save your life and reduce your injuries. Air bags are great, but they’re designed to work with seatbelts. So, click it every time. Be the example for kids and others, and always appropriately secure your children. Don’t ignore your car’s warnings and always require that everyone in your car is buckled before you go. You may be saving their life!6

5. Eat Right & Exercise

From Halloween candy to Christmas Cookies, October to January is full of (delicious) temptations. Not surprisingly, post-holiday weight gain is very common. If this is you, make a commitment to getting back on track. And not just a commitment to eat healthily and exercise regularly for a month or two.

This commitment needs to continue year-round.
Here are a couple of tips:
  • Schedule workouts on your calendar and only miss if it's really necessary. “I just don’t feel like it” doesn’t count. And don’t let your misses pile up, get back at it for the next workout. Better yet, try a make-up session!
  • If you are eating more, exercise more (if physically able). Every extra calorie you eat is a calorie you need to burn during exercise.
  • Writing down or tracking what you eat is both necessary and extremely helpful in managing your weight.8 You might be surprised by the numbers; sometimes people really don’t know how many calories they are actually eating. Many apps are available to help you keep track. Find the one you like best!
  • If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. It is recommended that you have less than 1-2 drinks per day.
  • Daily activity will help you feel better and improve both your physical and mental health.9
  • Before you start to work out, ask your doctor what you can do. It’s okay to start slowly and increase over time. Just try. We all know it’s hard and a commitment.

6. Don’t Drink & Drive

Just don’t. Get a ride, buy a ride. Don’t ruin yours or someone else’s life. Remember that your level of intoxication depends on multiple factors like your weight, your metabolism, number of drinks, and speed of consumption (how fast).

We know and understand some of these goals can be hard to accomplish. Lean on your support system to help you through the challenges.
From all of us at Dr. Joe Explains:
Good luck. Keep trying. You can do it!
  1. Browse Information for Consumers. Home - US Preventive Services Task Force. https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Tools/ConsumerInfo/Index/information-for-consumers. Accessed January 11, 2019.
  2. healthfinder.gov. https://healthfinder.gov/myhealthfinder/. Accessed January 11, 2019.
  3. Immunization Schedules. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/hcp/imz/adult.html. Published March 5, 2018. Accessed January 11, 2019.
  4. Alberg AJ, Samet JM. Epidemiology of Lung Cancer*. Chest. 2003;123(1). doi:10.1378/chest.123.1_suppl.21s.
  5. Dunga JA, Adamu Y, Kida IM, et al. Tobacco Abuse and Its Health Effect. Niger J Med. 2015;354-62.
  6. Cobb NK, Byron MJ, Abrams DB, Shields PG. Novel Nicotine Delivery Systems and Public Health: The Rise of the “E-Cigarette.” American Journal of Public Health. 2010;100(12):2340-2342. doi:10.2105/ajph.2010.199281.
  7. Soneji S, Barrington-Trimis JL, Wills TA, et al. Association Between Initial Use of e-Cigarettes and Subsequent Cigarette Smoking Among Adolescents and Young Adults. JAMA Pediatrics. 2017;171(8):788. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.1488.
  8. Mendes MDSD, Melo MED, Fernandes AE, et al. Effects of two diet techniques and delivery mode on weight loss, metabolic profile and food intake of obese adolescents: a fixed diet plan and a calorie-counting diet. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2016;71(4):549-551. doi:10.1038/ejcn.2016.176.
  9. Ament W, Verkerke GJ. Exercise and Fatigue. Sports Medicine. 2009;39(5):389-422. doi:10.2165/00007256-200939050-00005.

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