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Start the New Year in a Healthy Way

Here are some ideas from the Lake County Health Department.

New Year's Eve is a great time to reflect on changes we want to make in our lives. And so, as you start thinking about the resolutions you will make on Dec. 31, here are a few health-related suggestions that the Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center would like you to consider:

Focus on Fitness: Regular exercise has been associated with many health benefits. Studies show that it reduces the risk of some cancers, increases longevity, helps achieve and maintain weight loss, enhances mood and lowers blood pressure. Find a routine that works for you and stick with it. Don't set unrealistic expectations that often lead to failure. Go to the Focus on Fitness videos on the Department's website for some ideas of how to keep moving.

Quit Smoking: Tobacco users can get free help with quitting at any time of the year through the Health Department's Tobacco Free Lake County program. Services are free to anyone who lives or works in Lake County. Once every two weeks for 16 weeks, clients can see a smoking cessation counselor for guidance on quitting. After the 16 weeks, the program ensures clients have "strategies in their tool kits" to resist the temptation to use tobacco. The tobacco user chooses a quit date and is offered deeply-discounted nicotine patches, gum and lozenges that are available through the program.

Lose Weight: If weight loss is your goal, avoid trying out the latest diet or exercise fad just to lose that holiday weight. You may lose weight, but often quick fixes are not sustainable. When you choose your new plan for physical activity or changing your eating habits, you need to think, "Will I still enjoy doing this later in the year?" Is this truly a change in your lifestyle or merely a quick fix approach?

Drink Less: New Year's Eve is sometimes called "amateur night" for those unaccustomed to drinking alcohol. It could not be a better time to go "pro" at managing alcohol consumption. Excessive alcohol consumption (more than two drinks a day on average for a man and more than one drink a day on average for a woman) or binge drinking (more than five drinks on an occasion for men and more than four drinks on an occasion for women) can lead to liver disease and unintentional harm to others.

Keep a Positive Mental Attitude: The pressure is sometimes so great you want to pull the covers over your head and hide, but you don't. Despite daily pressures such as being cut off in traffic, supporting aging parents or trying to earn enough money to pay your bills, acknowledge something positive in your life every day. It could be as simple as a smile from a co-worker or a hug from a child or spouse. Remember, you can get help from a professional if you need it.

Do Something Good for the Environment: Whether it is paying more attention to what goes in the recycling container, or volunteering to clean up a public area, supporting our environment means everyone doing their part.

Care for Yourself in Order to Care for Others: Get plenty of rest. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water. Stay home when you are sick; you will feel better and prevent the spread of illness to those around you.

Have a happy and healthy new year. For more information on the programs offered at the Lake County Health Department, call (847) 377-8000 or visit www.lakecountyil.gov/health.

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