DUBLIN - Thinking of making a New Year's resolution? In addition to helping you fit into those favorite jeans, they can add more years to your life. Two out of three cancer deaths could be prevented by quitting smoking, eating right, exercising daily, and maintaining a healthy body weight. In addition, getting recommended cancer screenings can help catch common cancers before they start or at an early, treatable stage.
"Don't rely on willpower. Set yourself up for success," said Colleen Doyle, MS, RD, director of nutrition and physical activity for the American Cancer Society. "Schedule time to exercise. If you want to drink more water, put a pitcher right on your desk."
Quitting smoking can add up to 10 more years to your life. The health benefits start 20 minutes after the last cigarette, and grow the longer you are smoke-free. While not easy, there has never been a better time to quit.
Call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 for free information and support anytime, day or night
Your doctor can also provide tips, including discussing the FDA-approved nicotine replacement therapies and prescriptions currently available
Go to www.ChooseYou.com to download a free "beat your craving" widget, estimate your smoking costs calculator, and make a pledge to quit smoking
Go to www.cancer.org/smokeout for a free guide to quitting smoking, including the mental and physical aspects and the health benefits over time
Immediate rewards of quitting include being able to climb stairs without getting winded, food tasting better, your sense of smell returning to normal, clothes and hair smelling better, teeth getting whiter, breath smelling better, and losing yellow stains on your fingertips. Plus, you save potentially thousands of dollars a year by avoiding a pack or two a day.
Other healthy choices
If you're not a smoker, eating a healthful diet, exercising daily, and maintaining a healthy body weight are the best strategies to reduce the risk of many cancers, including breast and colon cancers, and other diseases. Eating five fruits and vegetables a day, reducing portion sizes, and getting active all help you look better, feel better, and reduce your risk of cancer.
Get free tips and tools at www.ChooseYou.com, including a body mass index calculator, free recipes, a virtual dietician, and a calorie counter
Additional tips and info, quizzes, podcasts, and data on the cancer connection, at www.cancer.org/Heathy
Not sure where to start?
If you're not sure what to make for a resolution, take a free, quick health check at www.cancer.org/healthcheck. You get a personalized survey results you can print or email and take to your doctor to find opportunities to get healthier and reduce your risk of cancer, or catch it at the earliest, most treatable stage.
Of course, making a resolution is the easy part: sticking to it is the true test. Can you make this a habit, or will you revert back to old ways before the calendar flips to February? No matter what your goal, these tips can help you stay on track.
Pick a realistic goal. Instead of trying to lose 20 pounds in a month, and failing, shoot for moderate weight loss you can stick with. Losing 5-10% of your body weight can improve your health.
Make your goal specific. It's all too easy to blow off a vague plan, like "getting more exercise" or "eating better." Instead, resolve to walk 30 minutes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, or eat a piece of fresh fruit every night after dinner.
Write it down. One study found people who kept a food diary lost twice as much weight as those who did not. Plus, a diary can clue you in as to emotional eating and temptations (maybe a new route to work will help you avoid the temptation of your favorite coffee or donut shop.)
Avoid temptation. Stay out of smoky bars if you're trying to quit smoking, and skip the all-you-can-eat buffet if you're trying to lose weight. You'll be less likely to slip up if you don't have the opportunity.
Focus on the immediate benefits. Don't get discouraged because you still crave a cigarette or can't fit into your skinny jeans yet. Think about the positive changes you can already notice your clothes no longer smell like smoke, or your new diet and exercise routine is giving you more energy.
Make a Choose You Commitment. The American Cancer Society Choose You initiative helps women and men set a healthy goal and stick to it. When you make your Choose You Commitment, you'll get access to helpful videos, quizzes, and other tools, as well as blogs by other women working toward similar goals. You can recruit your friends and family to support your effort. There's even an option to add a financial incentive, for extra motivation. It's a new year, time to choose you!
Ask for support. Tell your friends and family and ask for their help and encouragement. Patients for smokers dealing with withdrawl, or celebrating success, can have an impact.
Reward yourself for milestones. If you can avoid the vending machine at work, or meet your exercise goals, give yourself rewards to keep motivated.
Don't view slips as a death knell. Most smokers have to quit several times before succeeding. The important thing is to keep trying and you'll get there. If someone you love is trying to quit, encourage them to celebrate the success of how far they did come, and how much further they can go on their next quit attempt.