Vet column

Veterans looking to keep their New Years Resolutions of staying more fit can access the VA's new app to help them reach their goals.

New Year, New You! Right?

Only 14 days ago, shortly after the AdAmAn Club launched the fireworks from the top of Pikes Peak, you likely made a resolution to exercise more, lose weight, save more or spend less, eat healthier, travel more, etc. I certainly hope that is going well for you. Why shouldn’t we hit the gym more often, be kinder to others, and take better care of ourselves? After all, it’s 2023 and things are going to be different … better!

Yet despite the best of intentions, once the glow of a fresh new year wears off, many people struggle to make good on their plans. According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, only 46% of people who make New Year’s resolutions are successful. That means more than half of those who set a goal for the new year will fail!

The study also involved nonresolvers, people who did not make a New Year’s resolution but had a goal they wanted to achieve that year. Only 4% of nonresolvers were successful at achieving their goals, a far bleaker result than those who did make a New Year’s resolution.

So, what can you do to not be part of the 46% or the 4%? I’m here to help with one easily implemented recommendation: let VA technology be your resolution buddy!

That’s right, leverage the apps that are readily available to coach you, cheer you on and remind you to hang in there as you work to exercise, lose weight, sleep more regularly, learn to meditate or quit smoking.

These apps are free, are private between you and your phone, and VA does not gather information or monitor your usage. It’s just you and your phone working toward your goals — and the app doesn’t judge when you miss a day! It’s just glad you returned and are starting back towards achieving your health goals.

Along with being free, it’s simple to get started. While you’re reading this column, grab your phone, head to the app store and type “VA Veteran Launchpad” into the search section. A blue icon with a rocket will appear, tap that icon, and download. Alternatively, you can visit mobile.va.gov/appstore.

Once downloaded, search through the four listed categories to find that perfect app which will meet the goal, or goals, you have set. Then download that specific app and follow its prompts to get started. You might have to go back to the app store and type in the specific app name since VA Launchpad will take you to a website, which is bit more cumbersome.

If your new year’s resolution or health goal doesn’t have a specific app, you might want to try Live Whole Health, which will let you create and tailor your goals. I downloaded that app and went through the questions and requested check-ins on a weekly basis to get started.

And even if it’s challenging to download the apps, VA has you covered.

You might either call the VA near you and ask for the Facility Telehealth Coordinator (at the VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System, Sierra Miera-Nygaard, 303-399-8020), and have them help you, or call the VA Telehealth National Help Desk (866-651-3180).

Once you have downloaded the app, simply follow the prompts or notifications, and you are on your way to having a resolution buddy with you every day.

I spoke with Bridgett Baer, VA Rocky Mountain Network telehealth coordinator. She said: “Another great benefit of having this tool is that once you achieve your health goals, you can decide if you want to keep it or change the frequency of how often you check in. Many of the apps can grow with you to help you maintain your hard-earned gains to keep you at your best health possible.”

If you’re still singing “Auld Lang Syne” in the middle of January, let VA technology be your resolution buddy to help you achieve success and reach those health goals you have this year. You can do this, and VA can help!

Thanks for allowing me to walk alongside you behind friendly lines.

Victory!

Jason T. Strickland is the chief communications officer for the VA Rocky Mountain Network. Email: jason.strickland2@va.gov.

Jason T. Strickland is the chief communications officer for the VA Rocky Mountain Network. Email: jason.strickland2@va.gov.

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