On Your Health

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Lifestyle is Medicine

Don't Give Up on Your New Year's Health Goals!

Today we have a post from our guest blogger, Brent Wilson, who is a registered and licensed dietitian and certified diabetes educator with the INTEGRIS Diabetes Education Center. He completed the Coordinated Program of Dietetics at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. Wilson is also a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant at I2U Solutions.


It’s hard to believe we’ve finished the first month of the new year and we’re well on our way to February’s midpoint. For me, and I’m sure for many of you as well, the dawn of the new year always marks a time to both reflect on the past and set new intentions for the future.

I’m not embarrassed to admit I enjoyed myself in December and indulged in the rich and delicious foods of the season, and then I was very excited for the new year’s clean slate. It’s natural that many of us, and that includes me, are thinking about our health and wellness and making resolutions to eat healthier, get more exercise and lose weight this time of year.

It’s an important goal, and perhaps one of the very best things we Oklahomans can do for our health. Right now, Oklahoma is not a healthy state. In fact, the health status of Oklahomans ranks near the bottom. We currently rank #46 out of all 50 states in overall health statistics.

In large part, our poor health status rankings are due to obesity. According to a recent report, Oklahoma is the 10th most obese state in the U.S. This means approximately 35 percent of adult Oklahomans are obese. That’s 1 in 3 citizens of our state! To compare, in 1990 the number was only 10 percent. 

I don’t have to tell you that obesity is linked to many life-threatening conditions. Did you know Oklahoma has the second-highest death rate from cardiovascular deaths in the U.S.? And 1 in 8 Oklahomans has diabetes? It’s estimated that Oklahoma taxpayers and businesses spend almost $2 billion each year treating obesity-related medical conditions. 

In short, achieving a state of wellness is not possible without tackling Oklahoma’s obesity epidemic. To bring it to a personal level, I’m curious — did you wake up on January 1 with the intention of healthier living? 

If so, how did you do? Have you found yourself right where you started just a month later? Maybe you’re feeling frustrated with yourself, and already think your goals for 2020 are a wash.

If you’ve set health goals for yourself and already feel helpless that you aren’t achieving them, I ask that you give yourself a little grace and a second chance. Remember, behavior change is a marathon, not a sprint. Here is my advice to get yourself back on track. 

  • Pick one change to focus on at a time.
  • Give yourself a week or two to fully implement it and then choose another.
  • Resolve to make small, healthy changes all year long. 

Need inspiration? Cut out two cans of soda you currently drink each week. Or, how about getting an extra 30 minutes of sleep a night? Can you eat even a half-cup more of non-starchy veggies each day than you currently do?

That's it. By going a little easier on yourself and aiming to make simple changes that can still have a big impact on your health, you just might find you are able to succeed in the wellness goals you've set for yourself in 2020.

The most important thing is we’re all in this together. Taking care of yourself and committing to self-care is the right thing to do. Obesity hurts us individually, and it also hurts us at a community level. I am taking these discouraging statistics about our state to heart to find ways to incorporate healthy changes into my life and I hope you will join me.

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