How to keep New Year’s Resolutions

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Many of us will make at least one New Year’s Resolution for the beginning of 2015… but can pharmacy help Australians keep New Year’s Resolutions?

We have all made these New Year’s resolutions before… to be healthier, to eat better, to look after ourselves more, to go to the gym more. Each year, we are adamant we will stick with these resolutions, but deep down, we all know most of us will have given up before February even arrives.

So we have put together a few tips to help you actively support your customers to make a significant lifestyle change for the New Year.

Healthy eating – it is important for your customers to have realistic expectations. It is all too easy to say they will stop eating junk food, and start “eating healthy”. Advising them that it is important to be realistic and starting with a few small measurable goals, such as aiming to eat two servings of fruits or five servings of vegetables each day, will work better in the long run. Small tweaks and modifications can add up to a major change quite quickly.

Weight loss – Losing weight is about burning more calories than is consumed. Advise your customers to steer clear of the latest celebrity diet craze. More often than not, many of these diets are unhealthy and unsustainable. A well balanced diet will win out in the long run. Also, sometimes it isn’t about the food being eating, but controlling portion size. It is also important for them to know that weight loss and healthy eating isn’t about depriving themselves – it is about eating smarter – and they don’t have to give up on going to their favourite restaurants! You can also help them pick some meal replacement products if that is what they want to pursue.

Physical activity – Encourage your customers to try to get a total of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day. Perhaps you can organise a walking group that leaves from the pharmacy each morning. Persuade them to try for small changes in their everyday life, and to incorporate physical activity into their daily routine. Again it sounds clichéd, but small changes add up quickly, and small achievable goals are easier to stick with. Before long, it is likely they will notice their exercise tolerance has increased.

Smoking cessation – Quitting smoking is challenging. Hearing others say how difficult it is can put people off before they even start trying. Remind your customers that if they want to quit smoking, they are not alone and they do not have to go “cold turkey”. There are a range of nicotine replacement therapy or prescription medications that can help. As with everything else, if they “slip up” and smoke a cigarette, it is important they persevere with their goal, and don’t use it as a reason to give up completely.

Getting enough beauty sleep – Sleep quality is as important as the amount of time spent sleeping. Practising good sleep hygiene, restricting screen time before bed, and shutting down phones and other devices can help people achieve better quality sleep. People that don’t get enough sleep are also more susceptible to weight gain as they tend to eat more calories than those who get a decent amount of shut-eye. In case you aren’t convinced, those who get enough sleep are also perceived to look more attractive!

Looking after yourself – Looking after oneself is more than physical health. Remind your customers to look after their mental well-being too. Some strategies include learning to say “no”, and to de-clutter their life of things that are not working or are dragging them down. Also remind people to take some time out for themselves so that they are ready to take on the New Year – and to find a happier and healthier version of themselves!

By Dr Esther Lau, Professor Lisa Nissen, School of Clinical Sciences, Queensland University of Technology

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