It’s resolution time!  If you’re like most Americans, this time of year your thoughts turn to your waistline. Losing weight was named the top New Year’s resolution in a survey by the University of Scranton, yet we all know that many times “resolutions” quickly fall to the wayside.

The truth is that obesity is a huge issue in this country. Over the last two decades, we’ve seen a sharp increase in obesity in the United States, and the cost to our healthcare system is staggering. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimated that its total costs (direct and indirect) in the U.S. totaled about $147 billion in 2008.

Being overweight is tied to many chronic conditions (diabetes, coronary heart disease, hypertension etc.). We know that maintaining a healthy weight and an active lifestyle can help prevent additional issues down the road; yet making that “healthy weight” and “active lifestyle” an everyday reality continues to be a major challenge for many Americans.

I’ve had a conversation with Catherine Costa, an RN and fitness guru on my team, to share some thoughts about how we can take advantage of the new tools and New Year to make a lasting change.

Dr. Nayyar: What are some “basics” of healthy living that everyone can incorporate into their lives?

Catherine: Taking care of ourselves can be so simple, and yet we can make it so difficult.   We just need a plan and the right tools in our bag to help us make and keep healthy habits.  We have an entire year, that doesn’t mean we have to execute on every intention in January.

I have never liked the word diet, it sounds so limiting and restricting.  While I am not going to be on any diets in 2013, I am going to be selective of what I eat.  Here are a few thoughts to keep top of mind:

  • Be thoughtful and careful of what you eat. The healthiest options are freshly made and from wholesome ingredients.
  • Consider not only the calories, but also the preservatives and potential carcinogens.
  • Get moving! Fitness is another word that can intimidate, just remember our goal is to be well.   Simple concept, sweating is good.  Whether it’s a walk, a run, a bike ride, even 15 minutes of good stretching.  Start simple and build.

Dr. Nayyar: Do you use technology to help with these goals?

Catherine:  Now, more than ever before, there are tools available to educate us about what we’re putting in our bodies to help us make wise choices and manage our intake.  Using an app as a nightly check in helps to recap your day and keep tabs on what you did for your body.  Apps like SparkRecipes are great for finding new, health-conscious recipe ideas, Fooducate will help you choose the healthiest food options, and MyFitnessPal is a great calorie counting app that can help keep you accountable through the year.

Cool health and fitness apps:

Dr. Nayyar: I think that there is a tremendous opportunity here for mHealth applications to help. We’ve seen proof that accountability is very effective tool for weight loss. Just think about how much more effective that information would be if aggregated with insurance companies, doctor’s offices, connected devices (scales, etc.), and delivered on an application.  Obesity comes at a great cost, not only to patient lifespans and quality of life, but also with great financial costs. But each year, we add new tools to our toolkits to combat it.

I wish you a full and meaningful 2013!  I would love to hear about your journey, discoveries you make along the way, and the tools that help you get there.

Have a great year and be well!