Many of us make New Year's resolutions that shoot for the moon, and we only end up falling back to Earth in a few weeks. How about making resolutions for 2014 that you can keep? Here are a few survival-medicine suggestions:
1. Take a first-aid course. Get certified in CPR and AED - an automated external defibrillator. The teachers are friendly. If this is your first training experience, they'll understand. They were there once. Even if you're an old pro, a refresher is a good idea to keep your skills sharp and learn about changes in techniques. Find information at a hospital or your local chapter of the American Red Cross or American Heart Association.
2. Mark a specific time to get your emergency supplies in order. Ensure the ones you have work properly and replace any that are out of date. Add anything you can think of for worst-case scenarios. (For suggestions, sign up for my newsletter at TheSurvivalDoctor.com, where you can download a free check-off list.)
3. Get in a little better shape. Find something that you can fit comfortably into your regular routine. Maybe take the stairs; park farther away in the parking lot; take a stroll in the morning, at lunch or after work. Stand up and pace while you do office work. Stretch while watching TV. Just make sure you get in the habit and do it every day. If you exercise 10 more minutes a day than what you're doing now, you'll improve your health. Increased exercise tolerance is a great asset to have during disasters. Plus, you might like how your feel and want to do more. A good overall goal is 30 minutes a day. But if 10 is all you can manage, it's much better than doing too much and then quitting. If you're already walking, perhaps include some light weight lifting. For people with mobility challenges, water aerobics is a great option. Tai Chi is a proven method for improving balance and coordination - important for older folks, since falls are a leading cause of debilitating injury.
4. Don't go on a diet. Yes, you read that correctly. Instead of joining the latest surefire weight-loss gimmick, resolve to eat a little healthier. More fruits and vegetables, fish once a week. If you usually have a dessert, eat half of it or skip one occasionally. Be aware of your snacking, and try to make it healthier. Cut back on sodas. Chew slower. Stop eating when you start to feel full and recognize when you're eating out of boredom. Drink lots of water. The key, though, is to think of these dietary variations as permanent - changes you can tolerate or even enjoy long term.
5. Obtain medical information from reliable sources. Be wary of the gurus who claim to know something others don't or the ones who cite one small study and go by it as gospel. Or the ones who hint your doctors or pharmacies have some sinister conspiracy and are out to get you. Don't believe everything you read or hear. Have three regular go-to sources, at least one being your regular doctor.
I think these five resolutions are obtainable. Or pick the ones you believe in. Because if you're not in for the long haul, you're wasting your time. But no matter what, I wish you a happy 2014.
Hubbard is a family doctor who teaches how to survive during disasters or any time you can't get expert medical help at TheSurvivalDoctor.com.