Making changes: Getting healthy in 2018 a popular New Year’s resolution

Ashley Leisner rollerblades alongside Brian Hilberg, both of Marquette, as they ride along the bike path near Lake Shore Boulevard Tuesday in Marquette. (Journal photo by Andy Nelson-Zaleski)

The 2017 calendar year is in the rearview mirror.

We’re now officially in 2018 and many people resolve — as they do most years — to make dietary and exercise changes to improve their overall health.

According to “The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America” released in August 2017, Michigan’s adult obesity rate was 32.5 percent. That number is up from 22.1 percent in 2000 and from 13.2 percent in 1990.

The 32.5 percent statistic places Michigan with the 10th-highest adult obesity rate in the nation.

Dr. Randal Baker, a bariatric surgeon a Grand Health Partners located in Petoskey, said currently 68 percent of adults in America are overweight or obese.

“The problem isn’t just that people are heavy, it’s all the medical issues that come along with that,” Baker said in November. “We see a significant risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and a number of cancers.”

Baker also mentioned fat cells not only store extra energy or calories, but the same fat cells leak inflammatory mediators (inflammation) or bad hormones in the body.

“Almost all the medical problems are related to that,” Baker said. “Whether it’s diabetes, asthma, sleep apnea. That and there’s more than 12 cancers associated with obesity. The national press released an article earlier (in October) stating about 40 percent of cancers are thought to be related to obesity.

“That’s huge.”

Now, as the calendar nears Jan. 1, 2018, many dealing with weight issues may find it more difficult to make healthy choices.

“We tend to let our discipline walls come down as far as what we want to do,” Baker said. “In Michigan, we’ve always been toward the top in obese states mostly because of the winter. People just aren’t as active.”

With outdoor temperatures in the single digits recently, coupled with access to holiday food, Baker said lack of sleep also goes hand-in-hand when it comes to weight issues.

“There’s a huge link between lack of sleep and obesity,” Baker said. “When you think back to the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ days, when the lights weren’t on you went to sleep. Now, when you have the lights on you don’t sleep as much and nighttime is when the nibbling and snacking tends to happen.”

Sarah Broschart, a dietitian at Grand Health Partners, said portion control and eating more real foods is a good way to start improving your diet.

Around the holidays, we should be eating more real foods, whole foods and eliminating most processed food along with keeping track of calories and being cognizant of portion control.

A simple way to start, Broschart said, is to look at your plate and what’s on it. A quarter of your plate should be protein, another quarter healthy carbohydrates and another quarter should be vegetables.

She also stressed the importance of replacing sugary beverages such as soda with water, coffee and tea.

When it comes to exercise, Baker said he tells many of his patients to find something they enjoy doing and in a location they feel comfortable.

“What I’ve found to be the most successful and consistent form in terms of exercise is when you go to a place, you do it,” Baker said. “That means going to the YMCA, to a club, a local high school or college. Today (the options are) so much better and there’s more options, some of which are very cost-effective.”

A good starting point is doing 30-45 minutes of weight resistance and aerobic exercise, three times a week.

“If you can do 15 minutes of both (aerobic and weight resistance) three times a week, within two months you’re hooked,” Baker said. “If you can do it with another person, or having someone hold you accountable only helps.

“There’s something to say about family and friends and saying let’s do this together and let’s make it work,” Baker added. “Find a place where you can go and be consistent.”

Kelli Hagan, nurse practitioner at Grand Health Partners, said she suggests her patients write down the reasons whey they want to lose weight, and review it at least three times a day.

“Keeping the advantages of weight loss fresh in your mind, especially this time of year, can help combat the temptation to overeat or have negative thoughts,” Hagan said.