NewsAnnouncements : New Year, New You—WRNMMC professionals share tips to successful New Year resolutions

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New Year, New You—WRNMMC professionals share tips to successful New Year resolutions


By A.J. Simmons

WRNMMC Command Communications

The new year has begun, and so too have seemingly infinite resolutions for people across the nation. However, all too often we find our resolutions being abandoned as quickly as they began.
“A new year provides opportunity for reflection on where we are in our lives, where we’re satisfied and where we’d like to improve,” explained Public Health Service Cmdr. Arlin Hatch, the chief of the Resiliency and Psychological Health Service at Walter Reed Bethesda.
Hatch and his team of resilience and wellness professionals offer services to patients and staff at WRB that support recovery, growth and the ability to adapt to challenges associated with the “high visibility, high operational temperature environment.”
“When considering areas for positive change, rather than trying to make immediate broad and sweeping change, it’s better to identify one or two focus areas where we can make small steps of improvement that will be sustainable over the long haul,” Hatch continued. He recommended making use of the “SMART” acronym for making goals, meaning that they should be Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Based.
Travis Combest, exercise physiologist for Outpatient Nutrition Services at WRB, agreed with Hatch: “Sometimes if you’re setting [goals] that are too lofty, you can kind of burn out. The point is that you want to make progress and get better.”
Combest—who helps service members and dependents with weight loss, getting in shape and mission readiness—noted that focusing on gradual progress is one of the keys to a healthy and achievable goal, saying, “Some people think they have to do an hour [of exercise] to start with. But if you start going and doing 10 minutes and you start building some momentum and you start increasing it, then you’ve made progress. You’re starting to implement things as opposed to doing something and stopping.”
Hatch echoed Combest’s sentiment, “Remembering the reason the goal is important to us can help sustain our motivation. Likewise, tracking and celebrating progress along the way allows us to see achievement and persevere.”
“Goals that promote overall wellness can have spillover benefits in making us more resilient to life’s difficulties and simultaneously support our psychological health,” Hatch added. “These could include choosing a goal that would enhance physical health, healthy eating or sleep, a goal to support better work-life balance or expand adaptive strategies for stress management.”
To help service members and dependents pursue healthy, successful New Year resolutions, the Outpatient Nutrition Services department has also launched its Soar into Shape program. The 12-week program aims to promote and track healthy behaviors among participants, particularly in regards to healthy nutrition and exercise goals.
Of these goals, Combest explained, “Sometimes you can make substitutions for things that you’re already doing, and that’s one way of getting better. So, for example, if you’re eating white rice, then maybe switch to brown rice. If you are walking currently, maybe you can start putting a gradual incline on the treadmill. So it’s [important] to make substitutions for things you’re doing and gradually increase your exercise.”
However, as is sometimes the case, people fall short of their goals on occasion. Hatch explained that this should not be viewed as failure: “Part of the change process involves falling short from time to time. If we can accept that as a normal part of the change process, we can get back on track more quickly and ultimately experience greater success than if we expect perfection.”
Combest pointed out that the key to staying committed and avoiding setbacks is to promote confidence in the process of pursuing goals. This confidence helps to make habits out of the steps that are being taken to accomplish the goal.
Ultimately, as Combest explained, it all comes down to developing a lifestyle around the resolution. “The main thing that we want everyone to look at is to try to feel good with making a lifestyle and making progress,” he said. “We can’t go from A to Z. We need to start from A to C, because even when you’re going from A to C, you learn a lot of things that will help you get further.”
To learn more about the Resiliency and Psychological Health service, which offers resources for managing stress, fatigue and more, visit their page on the WRNMMC cite or call 301-400-1974. For more information about Outpatient Nutrition Services and the Soar into Shape program or to schedule an appointment with the department, contact Robin Revell at 301-295-4065.