New Year, new you: Take control of your own health

  • Published
  • By J.D. Levite
  • Air Force Surgeon General Public Affairs
A new year can mean new opportunities, new discoveries and maybe a few new goals. While the New Year’s Resolution is a common tradition, many of them get abandoned long before the new year is gone again. Setting goals for a healthier you is something everyone can do, if you do it right.

“Probably the most important thing is setting goals you can achieve,” said Col. Thomas Moore, chief of Health Promotion. “Losing five pounds? It's a start. You can do that and build on it. Even small changes in weight can have an impact on improving health.”

Setting small, manageable goals, gives you a chance to analyze how you got there.

Moore said, “Once you hit that goal, it might be good to take a step back and say, ‘What did I do right?’ Was it because I was eating healthier stuff like fruits and vegetables? Move on that. Build on your successes.”

The Air Force Medical Service is setup to provide many resources for helping people achieve their goals during the new year.

“The Health Promotion office can help with tobacco cessation. Many, not all, have a dietician who can either offer weight loss classes or possibly one-on-one counselling. If you don't want to go the health promotion route, next time you're seeing your doctor, talk about your goals with them,” said Moore.

This new year will also be a great chance to change how Airmen approach their own healthcare, too, as the AFMS tries to get people more engaged during their medical visits.

“I would recommend Airmen and their families resolve to be more active partners in their care,” said Col. John Oh, chief of Preventive Medicine. “We know care is safer when we have an effective partnership between the healthcare team and the patients. That's the kind of the cultural change we're trying to promote. The more patients understand about their conditions, their medications, their options - the more empowered they feel.”

Oh and his team created the online Patient and Family Engagement Toolkit just for that reason, to provide specific ways to get patients and their families more involved in their own care. He said their goal is to make care safer and more effective.

“Healthcare is changing,” Oh said. “The amount of information freely available to patients and family members is a paradigm shift. We want patients to feel more comfortable asking questions and getting involved in their care to the extent they are comfortable.”

Moore said the new year is as good a time as any to achieve some new healthier goals.

“Have a conversation with yourself about what you want to focus on. Maybe it’s important to focus on one small area, like losing weight or giving up smoking,” Moore said. “These things can have a negative impact on Airmen performance, whether direct job performance or the ability to bounce back from a setback. The fitter you are, the fewer of those unhealthy behaviors you engage in, the better you'll respond.”

One tool to use to set those goals is Comprehensive Airman Fitness, which is one of many ways Airmen can achieve balance in several aspects of their life. Each of the four areas – Mental, Physical, Social, and Spiritual – need attention throughout the year if you truly want to grow. Start now with a simple New Year’s Resolution and continue to try new things as 2017 unfolds.