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Three ways to make 2014 your healthiest year!

Teresa Fuller, M.D., Ph.D | 12/20/2013, 6 a.m.
People who exercise in extreme heat are at risk for heat-related illness, so it′s important to drink more water than usual and not wait until you’re thirsty to drink. CDC

Is it time to think about the New Year already? Yes, we’re just a few weeks away from 2014. If you’re like the tens of millions of people who make health-related New Year resolutions each year— such as to start exercising, lose weight, or eat right— let me congratulate you on wanting to change for the better. However, be warned: over 90 percent of people fail in their New Year’s resolutions. In this article, I want to arm you with three tips to greatly increase your chances of success:

Picture your future healthy self!— Imagine the things you’d be able to do if bad health wasn’t preventing you. Having energy to play ball with your children or grandchildren? Fitting back into some of your prettiest clothes? Getting off of some of your medications? List three things your healthy self can make possible for you. Spend time really fantasizing about it to give you a strong motivation for sticking to your resolutions.

Imagine the other future— The one you get if you don’t stick with your healthy resolutions. For example, are you in danger of losing your foot because of uncontrolled diabetes or irreversible lung disease because of your smoking habit? A few years ago when I was suffering from a chronically painful foot condition, I thought of the prospect of spending the rest of my life with daily pain. I decided that if a bag of raw carrots in place of a bag of cheese curls could help reduce the pain, it would be well worth it. Take a few minutes and get a clear vivid picture of your future if you don’t change. And bring this picture back every time you’re tempted to drop your newly adopted goals.

Create your support system— You need friends— the kind of friends who are going to help you out and maybe even join you in your healthy efforts. Your chances of success are severely diminished if your closest friends are insisting, “girl, you deserve those doughnuts” or if they keep bringing you pizzas and burgers when you’re too sick to even get around on your own! You don’t necessarily need new friends; just let your current friends know what you really need from them.

Start with these three tips, and get a head start on making 2014 your best year ever!

Teresa Fuller M.D., Ph.D. is double board-certified in pediatrics and integrative holistic medicine, and holds a Ph.D. in physiology. Prompted by an explosion of chronic illness rates in children and adults, Dr. Fuller has become a strong advocate for improving the health status of her patients and the wider pediatric community.