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PacMed doctor explains how to safely reset and make lasting health-related changes

Finding a workout partner might help those struggling with motivation. Photo credit: Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

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Now that we've officially bid adieu to the holiday season and all of the glorious indulgences that accompany it, many may be looking for ways to reset with a sense of healthy, lasting purpose. For some, incorporating new wellness habits may seem a daunting task at first. Thankfully, Pacific Medical Centers' Internal Medicine Physician Lesley E. King, MD, is on the scene to address best practices for living a life of overall wellness, beyond the New Year.

Though many people enter the New Year with a newfound sense of dedication to their health and wellness goals, some may find themselves overwhelmed or tempted to cut corners in order to see fast results. What are some suggestions for easing into new healthy regimens safely?

Start small! Many times we are inspired by the New Year to make lofty resolutions to overhaul our lives. While the sentiment is wonderful, it's not usually realistic and can set us up for failure and frustration. Instead of trying to make drastic changes -- like resolving to exercise more by going from not running at all to running five days per week -- build up from small changes. So for that inspired runner, they could start by setting aside time to walk or jog one or two days a week and build from there.

And, start off safe! Before making big changes to your health routine, make an appointment with your primary care physician to discuss. Not only can they give guidance on the safest way to making changes in the context of your health as a whole, but they can also be a great ally and sounding board as you make changes.

In your profession, what health concerns do you wish people would prioritize more often?

At Pacific Medical Centers, we often see patients focusing too much on the numbers and less on sustainable behavior change. Things like regular exercise, a healthful diet, sticking to recommended limits for alcohol intake, etc. can have big impacts on our quality and quantity of life which we may not always see in the numbers we can easily measure.

What are some easy ways to incorporate lasting, lifelong changes into daily life?

Be patient and kind with yourself. You didn't gain the weight or form the habit in one day, one week, or even one month, so it's unrealistic to expect that you'll be able to completely change things in a short amount of time. Set small goals for the short term and celebrate your victories along the way. Finally, try and make changes that work for who you are -- your interests, your passions, and your goals.

What advice can you offer to individuals who hit plateaus or are suffering from a lack of motivation?

Never underestimate the power of community and accountability. Let your loved ones know what your goals are so that they can support you. Or better yet, find a friend, family member, colleague, or another community member with similar goals. You can work together to motivate. Lots of local gyms, weight loss groups, or other community organizations have programs to connect you to peers for support.

Is there anything else you would like readers to know about incorporating lasting healthful habits into their lifestyle?

Again, your primary care physician is a great ally to have! Consider scheduling appointments at Pacific Medical Centers with their primary care team at regular intervals while you're working on making a change. This can not only provide a bit of accountability, but can be a great opportunity to track your progress, discuss hurdles, and forge a path forward.

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