New year, new you — and your doc, too

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published January 11, 2017

 Small changes are more stable, and more impactful, than many might think when it comes to living a healthier lifestyle.

Small changes are more stable, and more impactful, than many might think when it comes to living a healthier lifestyle.


METRO DETROIT — Eat a little less, move a little more. For the most part, many of our New Year’s resolutions look the same.

But do they look the way our doctors wished they did? After all, what good is making healthy changes if they’re not healthy in the eyes of a professional?

A healthier, happier you really starts from the top down, according to Madison Heights-based psychologist Mary Michail. The licensed professional counselor and national certified counselor hopes her clients — and everyone else, for that matter — will take better care of their minds this year.

And that starts with cutting ourselves a little slack.

“The first resolution I would recommend would be making peace with yourself, learning to let go of mistakes and learning from them, but not hold on to them,” Michail said. 

Most people stuck on a certain emotional problem can typically pin their struggle on their inability to let go — forgive themselves and stop worrying. 

“People wonder, ‘Why did this relationship break off? Is it because I did this, or maybe I should’ve done that?’ They continue to get stuck in it,” she explained.

If we’re able to release the pain of what we should have done — or what could be, with constant anxiety and worrying — we’re able to see the good things in any situation, and that leads to a happier day-to-day lifestyle.

“All worrying does is get us stuck worrying more, and what you’re worrying about almost never happens: losing a job, relationship, home,” Michail said. “So make peace. Stop worrying and find a positive in every negative situation. Release the worry and just enjoy. Enjoy life.”

If your resolution is focusing on physical health, with big aims to lose pounds and tone muscle with an aggressive diet and fitness plan: don’t.

Or rather, start smaller, according to experts at the Oakland County Health Division.

“Large, overwhelming goals aren’t as effective as the many little things we can do every day that can build up to big changes,” said Trisha Zizumbo, public health education supervisor for the OCHD. “Parking a little farther from a building entrance, drinking an extra glass of water a day — things like that are a little less overwhelming than saying, ‘I’m going to work out six days a week.’”

Lisa McKay-Chiasson, administrator of community health promotion and intervention services at the OCHD, said those incremental steps have a better chance of becoming a habit for those new to a health and fitness regimen — sometimes making changes even as small as getting up to talk to a coworker instead of sending an email. 

But before you make any changes, McKay-Chiasson added, be sure the advice you’re taking is coming from a sound resource.

“We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that any information people are getting, particularly from digital communication sources, should be credible,” she said. “There’s so many recipes or exercise tips on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest that might not have a healthy component like they claim. Someone might post that the recipe is healthy, but does it have a stick of butter in it?”

McKay-Chiasson said health facts should come from national organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Food and Drug Administration, not a blog or social media post, where any information, even unfounded, can be published.

Better yet, an old-fashioned visit to your doctor is a surefire way to ensure you’re getting good advice. And once you’re there, be sure you’re using that time as efficiently as you can.

“There are so many places where you can get a card to pull out during a doctor’s visit where you’ve listed all of your current medications and dosages,” she said. “So you can make sure you’re having informed conversations with your doctor.”