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Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Encourages Commitment to Healthy Lifestyle for 2013

Wednesday, January 9, 2013  |  Contact: Media & Communications: Phone: 225.342.1532, E-mail: dhhinfo@la.gov

BATON ROUGE—As 2013 begins, many Louisianians will make a New Year's Resolution focused on health-related goals. Whether your goal is to exercise regularly, eat better, lose weight, or quit smoking, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals encourages residents to make a healthier lifestyle a lifelong commitment rather than a one-year resolution. 

"We've all been guilty of letting worthwhile resolutions fall too quickly by the wayside," said Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein. "New Year's Day is a great starting point for change, but that's only one day.  Owning your own health takes a fundamental lifestyle change, and those changes begin with simple but important decisions. If you smoke, quit. If you don't exercise, start. If you eat too much unhealthy food, add more fruits and vegetables to your diet. Think about what you can do to get and stay healthy for life, and make that your ultimate resolution."

Public health officials encourage people to have a good support system in place as they try to make lifestyle changes, as this is an important factor in success.  Having people around you who encourage and challenge you to reach your goals are imperative in achieving them.

"Following through on a commitment toward lifelong health isn't easy," said DHH Office of Public Health Assistant Secretary J.T. Lane. "Surrounding yourself with sources of motivation and encouragement can improve your chances for success. As your friends and loved ones try to eat well, exercise more or quit smoking, support them and cheer them on. It can make the difference between victory and falling short."

DHH encourages individuals to approach these lifestyle changes as small steps rather than big leaps, setting moderate goals that increase over time. For example, if you want to exercise regularly, don't begin by doing an hour-long, intense workout every day. Depending on your own personal health situation, start by committing to do a brisk walk or other moderate activity for 30 minutes three times a week, then build up after you master that task.

"Changing your behaviors and incorporating health routines is hard work, so don't set yourself up to fail by starting with goals that are too big," Lane said. "Each time you succeed at achieving a smaller goal, the next, bigger goal will be easier to accomplish."

And, physical goals require some mental conditioning to make them stick, say behavioral health practitioners. People should expect to encounter challenges along the road to adopting a healthier style, but should be prepared to move forward.

"Many people let a temporary setback become a permanent failure, but you can mentally prepare yourself to address these situations and stick to your resolutions," said DHH Office of Behavioral Health Assistant Secretary Anthony Speier. "Don't let one moment of weakness crumble your commitment. If you sneak a piece of king cake with lunch, eat well the rest of that day and get back on your diet tomorrow. Everyone indulges in unhealthy habits from time to time, but the key to adopting an overall healthy lifestyle is knowing how to move on from those small lapses." 

People should also be realistic about the changes they will have to make in other areas of their lives to achieve a healthy lifestyle, and be willing to put their health first. For example, if you plan to exercise for 30 minutes each day, that means you get half an hour less for some other activity.  "To stick with it, you need to remind yourself why being healthy is more important to you than watching a television show or checking Facebook, so you'll commit to those 30 minutes of exercise," Lane said.

Beyond just physical goals, taking care of our mental health by reducing stress and anxiety will help individuals be more successful at adopting a healthier lifestyle. 

"The close correlation between physical well-being and mental well-being is evident, and finding balance between those two is paramount to succeeding and achieving your goals," Speier said. "Living well is important for preventing chronic diseases and conditions, but your mental health also gets a boost when you're taking better care of yourself."

And, just in time to help with New Year's resolutions, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, through the Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, is launching the 2013 edition of Living Well in Louisiana, a three-month wellness challenge in which participants earn points for physical activity and healthy eating, compete on teams or individually and track their progress at www.livingwellinlouisiana.org.

The three-month challenge officially begins the last week of January, but people across the state should sign up now at www.livingwellinlouisiana.org. There is no cost to participate. The Living Well in Louisiana website is a complete online wellness center that features healthy living tips, video clips, a worksite wellness resource guide and much more. The Living Well in Louisiana challenge is also available as a free mobile app that participants can use to track their progress on their smartphones.

For more health information you can use to form your 2013 goals, visit www.dhh.louisiana.gov.  

As 2013 begins, many Louisianians will make a New Year's Resolution focused on health-related goals. Whether your goal is to exercise regularly, eat better, lose weight, or quit smoking, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals encourages residents to make a healthier lifestyle a lifelong commitment rather than a one-year resolution. 

"We've all been guilty of letting worthwhile resolutions fall too quickly by the wayside," said Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein. "New Year's Day is a great starting point for change, but that's only one day.  Owning your own health takes a fundamental lifestyle change, and those changes begin with simple but important decisions. If you smoke, quit. If you don't exercise, start. If you eat too much unhealthy food, add more fruits and vegetables to your diet. Think about what you can do to get and stay healthy for life, and make that your ultimate resolution."

Public health officials encourage people to have a good support system in place as they try to make lifestyle changes, as this is an important factor in success.  Having people around you who encourage and challenge you to reach your goals are imperative in achieving them.

"Following through on a commitment toward lifelong health isn't easy," said DHH Office of Public Health Assistant Secretary J.T. Lane. "Surrounding yourself with sources of motivation and encouragement can improve your chances for success. As your friends and loved ones try to eat well, exercise more or quit smoking, support them and cheer them on. It can make the difference between victory and falling short."

DHH encourages individuals to approach these lifestyle changes as small steps rather than big leaps, setting moderate goals that increase over time. For example, if you want to exercise regularly, don't begin by doing an hour-long, intense workout every day. Depending on your own personal health situation, start by committing to do a brisk walk or other moderate activity for 30 minutes three times a week, then build up after you master that task.

"Changing your behaviors and incorporating health routines is hard work, so don't set yourself up to fail by starting with goals that are too big," Lane said. "Each time you succeed at achieving a smaller goal, the next, bigger goal will be easier to accomplish."

And, physical goals require some mental conditioning to make them stick, say behavioral health practitioners. People should expect to encounter challenges along the road to adopting a healthier style, but should be prepared to move forward.

"Many people let a temporary setback become a permanent failure, but you can mentally prepare yourself to address these situations and stick to your resolutions," said DHH Office of Behavioral Health Assistant Secretary Anthony Speier. "Don't let one moment of weakness crumble your commitment. If you sneak a piece of king cake with lunch, eat well the rest of that day and get back on your diet tomorrow. Everyone indulges in unhealthy habits from time to time, but the key to adopting an overall healthy lifestyle is knowing how to move on from those small lapses." 

People should also be realistic about the changes they will have to make in other areas of their lives to achieve a healthy lifestyle, and be willing to put their health first. For example, if you plan to exercise for 30 minutes each day, that means you get half an hour less for some other activity.  "To stick with it, you need to remind yourself why being healthy is more important to you than watching a television show or checking Facebook, so you'll commit to those 30 minutes of exercise," Lane said.

Beyond just physical goals, taking care of our mental health by reducing stress and anxiety will help individuals be more successful at adopting a healthier lifestyle. 

"The close correlation between physical well-being and mental well-being is evident, and finding balance between those two is paramount to succeeding and achieving your goals," Speier said. "Living well is important for preventing chronic diseases and conditions, but your mental health also gets a boost when you're taking better care of yourself."

And, just in time to help with New Year's resolutions, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, through the Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, is launching the 2013 edition of Living Well in Louisiana, a three-month wellness challenge in which participants earn points for physical activity and healthy eating, compete on teams or individually and track their progress at www.livingwellinlouisiana.org.

The three-month challenge officially begins the last week of January, but people across the state should sign up now at www.livingwellinlouisiana.org. There is no cost to participate. The Living Well in Louisiana website is a complete online wellness center that features healthy living tips, video clips, a worksite wellness resource guide and much more. The Living Well in Louisiana challenge is also available as a free mobile app that participants can use to track their progress on their smartphones.

For more health information you can use to form your 2013 goals, visit www.dhh.louisiana.gov.