If you’ve signed up to take the New England 61-Day Challenge to try to make yourself healthier over the last 61 days of the year, then good for you!
We applaud your initiative – now, let’s focus on ways to keep you on track the full 61 days.
This year, the challenge is to “step up” to a more active lifestyle, “eat up” more healthy foods, and “drink up” the right amount of water. However the details are up to you, and the key is to find just the right level of challenge.
“A lifestyle change requires two very important things,” said Dr. Reggie Eadie, the President, and CEO of Trinity Health of New England, “It requires, one, important planning, second, it requires support.”
For many of you, the first place you should go for support is your primary care physician. Doctor Rabia Cheema, an internist and primary care physician in Cheshire, said it’s her job, day in and day out, to help patients make lifestyle changes to keep them healthy.
“You can achieve a lot in 61 days,” she said, “you just have to be motivated to start.”
61 days is a marathon, not a sprint, so Dr. Cheema said to start slow.
“Making small changes is really, really important because you need to see those effects right away in order to see the bigger effects down the road.”
However, she understands why it’s so easy to overdo it.
“You want to achieve that goal faster and more quickly so you do exert yourself more, and then sometimes it can get boring as well, which is why starting smaller is always better,” Dr. Cheema said.
Going forward, the key is to keep increasing the challenge level by a small amount
“Once you start changing your habits you end up achieving a normal or healthy lifestyle - and then from there, obviously, you end up being motivated to proceed further,” she said.
Trinity Health of New England employee Sean Fallon had great success with the challenge last year, just by being mindful of his food choices. He said he will do the same this year for the “eat up” part of the challenge, and he’s got more measurable goals to “step up” as well.
“This will make me make sure I stay on track and can do keep my steps up in terms of getting out there every morning and at least trying to get a mile in with the dog every morning,” Fallon said.
While everyone is encouraged to set individual goals, that doesn’t mean you should go it alone.
“We encourage participants to bring in their friends and their families during the holiday season and get them all to participate, and if not participate, support them because lifestyle changes are not easy to do,” said Dr. Eadie.