ATLANTA, Dec. 14, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Want to hear the truth about New Year's resolutions? Despite best intentions, the vast majority who set goals next year to lose weight, exercise more, stop smoking, etc., will fail.
According to Jennifer Lovejoy, a specialist in obesity and diabetes research with a doctorate in biopsychology, one new strategy that may help many people in 2011 is to take greater advantage of the programs and resources offered through their employee health and wellness programs. Lovejoy is vice president of clinical development at Free & Clear, a division of Alere Inc., a company providing health management services to large employers and health plans nationwide.
"There's no shortage of things people can do to stay healthy or improve their lives," says Lovejoy. "The real trick is finding things that matter in your daily life and that you will actually stick to over time. Many employees may be unaware that their employer may offer free to low-cost programs that coach them on ways to manage stress and how to make healthier food choices to better attain their New Year's goals."
Lovejoy shares a series of steps that employees at businesses nationwide can take to succeed in their New Year's resolutions:
- Identify your core values. Lovejoy recommends that you sit down and make a list of your core values – things like vitality, health, honesty compassion, security − to get a sense of what is really important to you. If you focus on the things that really matter to you, you'll be more likely to stick with the program.
- Set your priorities. After you make the list, select three to four values you want to target. Base your decision on values that you know would make you happier and improve your quality of life. Then look at what you are doing or not doing that is keeping that value from manifesting in your life. If vitality is one of your priorities, determine why it is lacking in your life. Is the fact that you are overweight keeping you from being more physically active? Are you eating the kinds of foods that make you feel tired instead of energized?
- Establish specific, measurable goals. After you determine the changes you want to make, set specific, measurable goals to track your progress. One of the reasons that many people fail with resolutions is that their goals are too vague. Examples of vague goals include making the commitment "to exercise more" or "eat better." For example, if adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet is your goal, determine how many daily servings to add by a specific date. Or if you want to lose weight, decide how many pounds you want to lose. That way you know clearly what your target is and how much time you have to make it happen.
- Make realistic goals you know you can reach. If you love pizza or hot fudge sundaes and vow to never eat them again, chances are you will fail. If you've never been to a gym and promise to start working out daily, you'll likely quit within a month. The best health and wellness programs teach people to gradually reduce their unhealthy habits so that they can learn behaviors that will last. For example, if weight loss is your goal, it's best to try to lose 5 to 10 percent of your current weight. Then when you reach that goal, work on sustaining it for six months before trying to lose any more weight. "We'd rather people set goals that are ridiculously easy and succeed than overly ambitious and fail," says Lovejoy.
- Be creative. Who says resolutions have to be about weight loss or exercise? Getting plenty of sleep can also promote better health and vitality. Research shows that people getting six hours of sleep or less are more likely to be overweight, and more likely to make mistakes on the job. Another habit to consider changing is the amount of time you sit on the job. If you sit all day, even if you exercise on a routine basis, you may lose any cardiovascular benefits. So, pledge to stand up whenever you take phone calls; to get up and walk around the office once an hour; to park in the far side of the lot; or to ask if your office can add stand-up desks.
- Chill out more. Stress is the enemy to feeling better and being more productive. Studies show that if you have excess stress, even if you eat healthy or exercise, the benefits may be negated. Stress is also a major contributor to poor adherence to goals. Many people resort to old habits of poor lifestyle choices in times of stress such as job loss or poor health in the family. Stress management programs can provide the tips and support to manage those life situations that may anger, sadden or worry you and help to keep you on goal.
- Do something for someone else. Many stress management programs offered by employers encourage employees to manage stress and improve happiness by doing something for others. Employers are recognizing that employees that are active and engaged in helping others in their community are often more productive and healthier than those who do not. If your company supports a special cause, or if you have one important to you, make the effort to spend a few hours a month volunteering or helping in some way.
- Take advantage of employer programs. Employers like health and wellness programs because they provide real value. A recent study in the Harvard Business Review(1) noted that employers with comprehensive and integrated wellness programs can receive a return on investment of an average of $2 to $3 for every $1 spent. For the employer to receive the value, the employee must participate. Often programs that promote healthier lifestyles are free, and many are offered at convenient times during the week to encourage participation.
Alere Health is the health management services business of Alere Inc. (previously Inverness Medical Innovations) (NYSE: ALR). Alere, a Latin verb, meaning "to care for" or "to support," offers the most patient-centered health management services available from a single provider in the industry. Alere provides health interventions that cover an individual's entire lifespan, from pre-cradle to end-of-life care, as well as the continuum from wellness and prevention, to total health management of the individual for those having chronic illnesses. Alere's continuum of services begins with genetic testing, preconception, pregnancy, NICU and first year of life services; continues with lifelong programs focused on health, wellness and the management of chronic conditions such as heart failure, COPD, and asthma, up to the complex care management required in end-of-life care. For more information regarding Alere, please visit www.alere.com.
(1) Berry L, Mirabito AM, Baun WB. What's the Hard Return on Employee Wellness Programs, Harvard Business Review, December 2010.
SOURCE Alere Health