Keeping healthy New Year’s resolutions

While the phrases “get healthy” or “lose weight” top many New Year’s resolution lists, the prospect of taking action makes some people wish it was still December.

Luckily, change is possible. Residents of Hood River from infants to seniors have numerous sources that can help improve their overall wellness in 2003 and beyond.

Resolution-making is a constructive process conducive to mental well-being, according to Gary Young, chaplain at Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital.

“At this time, people are glimpsing how their lives can be better,” said Young. “Resolutions help us get to the core of our beings.”

He stressed the importance of being realistic.

“Those of us over 50 wish we could be 25 again, but that won’t happen,” said Young. “You need to make resolutions you can keep on a daily basis.”

Young suggested “keeping score” of your small steps and comparing the figures on a daily or weekly basis as a way to stick to those tricky resolutions.

“Think of them as 365-day journeys,” said Young, who stressed staying focused throughout life’s inevitable meanderings. “Once you get a vision of where you want to be, hold on through spiritual exercise in prayers, reading in depth, or meditating on your life experiences.”

Young noted that personal successes aren’t the only events worth remembering.

“People should make note of important roadmarkers in their lives,” he said. “Sometimes they’re not all good, but all of them help us get to the depth of our beings.”

For those who want to take a more physical approach to developing their being, starting small is the key.

“Don’t plan on going to exercise classes five days a week — that sets you up for failure,” said Karen Mielke, who teaches low-impact SilverFit classes at the Hood River Valley Adult Center, as well as lessons and aqua-arthritis classes at the Hood River Sports Club.

“Try starting with two times a week for a month, then maybe add a third day,” Mielke said. “Just get into a habit. Having a friend to work with always helps, too. Listen to your body, and if it hurts, don’t do it.”

Mielke’s SilverFit exercise program is held at the Adult Center from 1:30-2:15 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays. Yoga classes are offered from 12-1 p.m. on Fridays, and blood pressure screenings are held from 11 a.m. to noon on the last Monday of each month. Mielke emphasized that her aqua-arthritis classes aren’t just for people with that ailment — anyone interested in a low-intensity workout that doesn’t leave the body sore is welcome to attend.

Mielke also recommended that parents be active with their kids, whether in the pool, on a walk or bike ride, or at the basketball court.

The county 4-H club will also provide a host of activities geared towards county children, said Youth Development Extension Agent Billie Stevens.

“Our programs keep kids busy, active, and healthier,” said Stevens. “They’re not sitting around at home watching TV.”

She noted that many diverse 4-H activities are up and running by the beginning of January, including baby-sitting clinics to be held Jan. 14-16 at Hood River Middle School and Jan. 28-30 at Wy’east Middle School. The clinics are open to everyone, and focus on health and safety issues when working with children. For more information, call the Extension Office at 386-3343.

For those with infants, Dr. James Brauer of the Family Practice Specialists in Hood River recommended that parents make sure their child is on an immunization schedule recommended by their health care provider, as well getting other recommended tests for hearing and general health.

For more mature segments of the population, Brauer noted that traditional concerns still apply in the new year, despite some extra threats unique to our time.

“From a national standpoint, there are issues related to preparing for bioterrorism threats,” said Brauer. “But in general, it gets down to the same basic issues — people taking care of their bodies through diet, exercise and not putting harming things in their bodies.”

As county residents form their resolutions, Brauer urged them to examine the accuracy of information that spurred them to action.

“I’ve seen a number of times where people will get not-so-helpful advice to do things that aren’t appropriate,” said Brauer. “Make sure your goal is appropriate, and the means of achieving it as well.”

The best way to do this, Brauer said, is to consult your physician.

“For young and generally healthy people, sometimes it’s clear what they want to do to pursue exercise and a proper diet,” said Brauer. “Others should check with a doctor.”

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