Male fitness instructor assisting overweight man in exercise at gym - stock photo

In the pursuit of better health, many individuals embark on journeys filled with dietary and exercise changes, often driven by many motivations. Michael J. Orlich, MD, PhD, a preventive medicine specialist, sheds light on the common reasons behind these lifestyle shifts and offers valuable insights into maintaining sustainable health habits year-round.

"People attempt changes in diet and physical activity for a variety of reasons," Orlich says. "They want to feel better, look better, improve their health, or prevent diseases like high cholesterol, diabetes, or heart disease."

He emphasizes the importance of having a strong underlying motivator and setting long-term health-centered goals linked to realistic short-term objectives.

“Write it down, talk about it with confidants, and keep reminding yourself of it often. Having that note on the refrigerator door that says, ‘I eat well because I want to be there for my grandchildren,’ for example, can make a difference,” Orlich says.

However, Orlich warns against the dangers of adopting extreme diet and exercise routines.

"Drastic or sudden changes often lead to feeling worse and then throwing in the towel," he cautions. Instead, he advocates for gradual, sustainable changes that individuals can build upon over time. For example, starting with shorter exercise sessions and gradually increasing intensity can lead to long-term success.

Practical Tips for Sustainable Changes:

Keep Records

Stay Consistent

Set Realistic Goals

Start Small, Move Up

Buddy System

Orlich says to write down your exercise every day in a notebook or on a calendar and review it once a week. You can do the same kind of thing with diet (e.g. writing down the number vegetables you eat each day.)

“Keeping records takes a little effort, but it pays off,” Orlich says. “It enhances your commitment, keeps you accountable, and allows you to notice when you are making progress or when you need to add a little more focus to keep on track.”

Consistency, according to Orlich, is key to progress. He suggests establishing a buddy system to stay motivated and accountable, whether it's exercising with a partner or checking in regularly with a friend undergoing similar dietary changes.

Setting realistic goals is another crucial aspect of sustainable health habits. Orlich recommends starting with modest, short-term objectives and adjusting them as needed. "As you get better at setting short-term goals, you'll become more adept at estimating long-term progress," he adds.

Preventive medicine plays a vital role in guiding individuals toward consistent and sustainable health habits. Orlich highlights the expertise of professionals such as coaches, personal trainers, dieticians, and preventive medicine physicians in providing tailored guidance and recommendations.

Orlich recommends all individuals schedule an annual wellness physical with their primary care provider. These appointments provide an opportunity for evidence-based preventive care, including recommended screenings and immunizations.

By prioritizing long-term health and wellness, you can embark on a journey that leads to lasting vitality and well-being. Learn more about the Preventive Medicine Clinic and schedule an appointment at (909)558-4595.

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