The 411 on Women’s Health: Make attainable goals for your health |

The 411 on Women’s Health: Make attainable goals for your health

New Year’s resolutions are obviously all the rage this time of year, but a post I saw on Facebook reflects the reality. It said, “For the new year I’m going to open a gym but in two weeks I’ll turn it into a bar!” Funny, yes, but in that kind of sad way where we recognize that keeping resolutions is rarely accomplished.

Our failure stems in large part for setting goals that are just too big. Saying you’re going to lose 20 pounds is daunting and you may give up at the first bump in the road, but saying you’re going to swap out a triple grande mocha with extra whip for a coffee with a sprinkle of mocha powder and a dash of whole milk just once a week will eventually lead to that 20-pound weight loss and is much easier to stick to.

Another relatively easy way to improve your health in 2014 is to resolve to be more physically active. Remember that joke at the beginning? You don’t have to join a gym or spend lots of money; just agree to go outside and walk for 5 minutes every day. Too cold? Then do laps around your living room or jog in place during the commercials during your favorite show. These small increments of increased activity add up and you may find you sleep better, are less depressed, and just generally feel better if you do something as simple as go for a walk in our beautiful environment — and you may find that 5-minute walk you once had to force yourself to do is now 30 minutes you look forward to.

Many of us resolve to change in deeper ways — be less impatient, let go of the negative and focus on the positive and these are great ways to improve your health, too. People who are happier really are healthier, but these goals can also be difficult to achieve. I have been impatient my entire life, for example, so I’m not instantaneously going to be all Zen, but with the help of friends who are much better at this than I am, I am taking baby steps: 3 minutes of deep breathing before I get up and when I go to bed. It’s a start and, who knows, by this time next year I might be able to bend myself like a pretzel and meditate for an hour and never lose my temper with my teenage daughter or husband – if not, then maybe I will have learned to take a couple of deep breaths before I speak and the bottom line will be the same — life will be better and healthier.

The best resolution: be grateful for what we have. As 2013 comes to an end and I face some personal health challenges, I am grateful for my family, my friends, my patients and the ability to live and work in beautiful Lake Tahoe.

— Dr. Kelly Shanahan is the owner of Emerald Bay Center for Women’s Health and can be reached at 530-542-4961.

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