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 V.23 No.3 | January 16 - 22, 2014 

Feature

Make Changes, Not Resolutions

Kick butt, practice hot and eat clean

We have all been guilty of it, some more so than others. Years pass and with them, the failed resolutions we so dutifully—or half-heartedly—tried to see through. For most, a resolution to quit smoking results in an extended period of time wherein you feel better about yourself—as you proudly proclaim you've put smoking behind you … only to slip up and eventually revert to habit. A dedication to lose weight sensibly ends up as a quick-fix diet to shed holiday pounds, and your pledge to eat more healthfully and take better care of your temple winds up as a month-long dedication to smoothies instead of breakfast burritos. No matter how much we want to keep our resolve, these same resolutions seem to pop up again every January.

When it comes down to it, the percentage of people who actually stick with their resolutions through the year is pretty low. And some of those folks resolve to watch the sunset more often or seek beauty in inanimate objects. That's all fine and well, but those resolving to minimize harm and genuinely change their everyday lives have a tougher challenge ahead.

Rather than making a resolution to [insert desired change here], make a choice to actually change. Instead of resolving to do something—essentially committing to the idea of doing that something—take action on a decision you’ve made for yourself. Framing change as a choice helps, as we're often more accountable to our decisions than our ideas. Be responsible to yourself about your choice to better your life.

Put down the pack for good

One of the no-cost resources the Department offers is counseling services that include an eight-week supply of nicotine replacement therapy.

For those who spark up on the regular—or even merely sneak a couple here and there—smoking cessation may seem like too weighty a change. If you can call on a steely reserve of willpower, the cold turkey method may work, but it has also failed many wannabe nonsmokers. There are other methods and resources—see hypnotism, behavior modification therapy and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)—but these services can cost a pretty penny.

According to the New Mexico Department of Health, there will be a variety of new, free resources to quit smoking or chewing tobacco successfully in 2014, and the Department stands behind these approaches' efficacy—even in the face of pretty grim statistics. “Tobacco use results in an estimated 2,100 deaths in New Mexico each year. Our cessation services make it easier to make the commitment to quit smoking," said Cabinet Secretary Retta Ward, MPH.

If you're not ultra-comfortable working out in front of others, you might find yoga doesn't feel as much like “working out,” and the practice's focus is on the self.

One of the no-cost resources the Department offers is counseling services that include an eight-week supply of nicotine replacement therapy. NRT patches, lozenges and gum can cost upwards of $30 a week, and this financial help presents a budget-friendly opportunity to beat the odds. The first few weeks are usually the hardest, and participants get access to counseling from quit coaches 24 hours a day; you can get coaching via text message.

For the smartphone set, there's a new QuitNow app available respectively via iTunes and Google Play for both Android and iPhone. The app is a downloadable tool giving smokers support throughout the quit process, and it offers helpful tools and strategies for conquering cravings. The QuitNow app is perfect for those who can't work face-to-face or telephone counseling into hectic schedules. Other quit resources are out there, too. Knowing you have some accessible and affordable options might make a smoke-free lifestyle choice more achievable. For more information on free smoking cessation services, call 1-800-QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669) or visit quitnownm.com.

Think outside the gym

Let's be honest: Hitting the gym is the last thing most of us want to do. It's hard to work gym-time into busy schedules, it costs money and above all, we're expected to work out while there. If you're not keen on climbing a treadmill or lifting weights, there are alternative options to help you shape up and improve your cardiovascular and overall health. Hot yoga (yoga performed in a high-temperature environment) is one such alternative. There are hot yoga studios in all quadrants of our city, and it is becoming an increasingly popular way to work your body, clear your mind and focus your energy.

In hot yoga classes, there's not the same gym-centric sense of competition and pressure. If you're not ultra-comfortable working out in front of others, you might find yoga doesn't feel as much like “working out,” and the practice's focus is on the self. Chantel Lopes, a yoga instructor at Resolute Strength, swears by the effects of yoga. “Yoga is definitely a way to maintain weight and a healthier lifestyle; it is a practice solely for you while it heals and maintains your body, mind and spirit,” said Lopes.

There's no shortcut or quick fix when it comes to knowing yourself and your body. Do your research on what's best for you.

But don't discount the actual workout you can get from yoga. While yogic practice can benefit the psyche and spirit, hot yoga will also kick your ass. You will stretch farther than you ever thought you could, work muscles you had no idea existed, put yourself in awkward positions and push your body to its physical limit—all in temperatures reaching up to 110 degrees. If you're up for a challenge and don't have high blood pressure, consider giving hot yoga a try; if you have high blood pressure, simply extract the heat aspect, and visit one of Burque's many yoga studios.

You are what you eat

Eating healthier does not have to mean a strict diet of brown rice and vegetables. Occassionally indulging in delectable treats can even help you stick with eating healthier overall, and there are satisfying ways to counterbalance day-to-day slip-ups that won't drastically alter your enjoyment of meals and snacks.

When making a decision to change our eating habits for the better, the starting line can be a bit hazy. Your dietary journey should situate you far away from endless infomercials for fad diets and cleanses. Detria Branch, a nutritional health coach at Natural Grocers, calls on knowledge gleaned from bachelor's degrees in biology, human nutrition and food science in her work. Branch believes the best possible diet is always a personal matter. “Due to our biochemical individuality, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to healthy eating. And as such, each individual will vary based on their current diet, behavior, lifestyle and health goals," said Branch.

There's no shortcut or quick fix when it comes to knowing yourself and your body. Do your research on what's best for you. This might mean a visit to your doctor or a registered dietician, but you'll end up with a more holistic understanding of what eating healthy actually means for you. It's not all homework, and experimenting with a vast repository of unfamiliar foods, cuisines and recipes can actually be fun.

Individualism aside, Branch recommends following a whole foods-based diet—with plenty of vegetables and some fruit—and eating as organically as possible. Maintaining a well-balanced intake of nutrients—carbohydrates, fats, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and so on—is necessary to support your body and the success of your goals. “When you are [already] eating balanced meals consisting of healthy fats, quality protein and preferably non-starchy carbohydrates, drinking fresh green juices or smoothies, sleeping well, exercising and maintaining other healthy lifestyle habits and are still challenged in meeting your health goals, that's when dietary supplements should enter the picture and play a supporting role. We have more control over our lives and health than we think,” said Branch.

Making a decision to disrupt your current lifestyle might initially seem like an unwieldy undertaking, but there are ways to reach your goals—whatever they might be. You're certainly not alone in wanting to better yourself, and there are resources to help you change your habits, diet, mind and body—in short, your self—for the better. Educate yourself, surround yourself with support, and foster an environment of change wherein you can not only succeed but thrive in 2014.

 
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