Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Kick start your health by going dry?

People are always looking for motivators, ways to get started to accomplish a goal.  With one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions being to improve one’s health, stopping, or at least cutting back, on those habits viewed as having a negative impact would seem a valid avenue for success.  One such movement is to have a “Dry January,” forsaking alcohol for the month.  Here is a little piece with some of my thoughts from the Self website:

More than just a regional thought, this piece was picked up by Fox News for its website as well, helping to promulgate the idea of starting to change your behavior with the first month of the year.

So stay with me for a couple of paragraphs as I expand on my views of this issue.  I will begin with a word of caution.  If one is a heavy drinker, suddenly stopping could result in symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.  As with any diet or exercise program, you should check with your physician before, and during, such efforts.  

Normally, reduction of a “bad” habit is always good, so there should be some benefit to be derived by a “dry January.”  There are some studies that point to benefits of modest alcohol consumption, perhaps one drink daily, so one may not want to stop that if there is such a potential.  A medical review of one’s base health and level of consumption should be a part of the decision.

But what if you are not a drinker, can this method be used to help other behaviors?  Of course, you can use a month of changed behavior as a motivating starting point to push that behavior into a healthier range, and then maintain that benefits going forward.  So while the “dry January” should result in no alcohol to excess for the rest of the year, a “Fat Free February” would see a reduction in dietary fat intake to a healthy level, or a “Marching March” would result in more exercise being started and continued through the year, and so on, so that by next December we really could be enjoying a Happy and Healthy New Year.

This idea has such traction that there was an article in the January 1, 2017, New York Times proposing a “Month Without Sugar,” another lofty goal that many of us could consider.  So take a moment, look at your health and your habits, and see if you can commit to changing just one habit during the coming month in a positive direction.  You never know where it might lead!

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