Health Matters: Signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder & What to Do About It

By Dr. Valerie Nemeth

2024 is here, bringing with it a barrage of ads, social media posts and pressure for new year resolutions. While setting goals is great, and the start of a new year can be a fresh start for many to set the tone for the months ahead, new year resolutions can also feel daunting
Making sweeping changes all at once to achieve a goal can sometimes make them feel harder to reach. If focusing on health and well-being in 2024 is a priority for you, here are a few tips to guide you in building healthy habits that will help you start the new year in a healthy way and make changes for the long-term.

Start Small, Think Big
Setting 2 to 3 achievable goals is the key to sustainable change. It’s also important to shift focus from the end-result to the steps needed to reach it. Concentrate on small, daily changes that will gradually lead to success. For example, if weight loss is your goal, swap a high-calorie beverage for water or a processed snack for a fruit or vegetable. One or two minimal changes at a time will build a foundation for long-term success, ultimately helping you reach your desired outcome.

Ditch the Resolutions Entirely
Consider leaving traditional new year resolutions in 2023, and instead, look at developing an overall health plan. This could alleviate some of the pressure we put on ourselves and help make lasting changes. Integrate small habits into your daily life that over time can lead to big changes. You can get yourself a fun, new water bottle to encourage you to drink more water or park farther away in a parking lot to get some extra steps. These changes may seem so small that it’s hard to see how they could make a difference, but that is exactly what makes them effective.

Move your body
Physical health is essential to overall well-being. However, that doesn’t mean you have to be at CrossFit at 6 a.m. every day – unless you want to – or be expected to have the workout routine of an Olympic athlete.
Aim to clock at least 10,000 steps every day or a total of 150 minutes of exercise per week. 150 minutes per week equates to 30 minutes of exercise, 5 days a week.

If that sounds like it could be difficult to achieve with your schedule, find creative ways to incorporate activity into your routine. You could break your 30 minutes into two, short 15-minute walks during the day – maybe on a lunch break or around your house during the commercial breaks of your favorite shows.  Ultimately, consistency is more important than intensity.

Fuel Your Body
You’ve probably heard that what you eat can be more impactful to a weight loss journey than your exercise routine – and it’s true. Prioritize fiber-rich foods, fruits, and vegetables in your meals and focus on having a balanced plate. This means non-starchy vegetables should take up half of your plate, with healthy proteins amounting to a quarter of the plate and a modest portion of a starch to complete the meal. This will help you feel fuller longer. Hydration is also fundamental to fueling your body. Drinking one to two liters of water a day, and adjusting for increased activity levels, is a great goal.

Mind Your Mental Health
Health isn’t just about the numbers on your lab report. Your mental well-being is equally important. Make sure you’re prioritizing self-care practices, such as prayer, meditation, doing things you enjoy or even seeking counseling if you feel you need more support. Mental health is integral to wellness, and you must take care of it just like your physical health.

Embrace Patience and Consistency
Lifestyle changes take time. While a quick-fix is enticing, creating lasting habits takes patience – and will give you the long-term results you want to see. Make sure you celebrate small victories. This will help reinforce the changes you’re making and remind you that you’re making progress, even on the days it feels like your goal is out of reach.
Don’t forget your doctor is there to help you

Your doctor is there to support you and your health. You can schedule a baseline checkup to address any potential health issues and get a sense for where your journey is starting. Take advantage of available resources or wellness programs, either through your doctor’s office or even your employer, to optimize your well-being.

If starting a new health and wellness journey is on your 2024 vision board, remember this simple guide to help you reach your goals. This process is about progress, not perfection. You can take this journey day-by-day, hour-by-hour or minute-by-minute if that helps make it more manageable. Ultimately, focus on doing the best you can do each day and you’ll see results.


Dr. Valerie Nemeth

is a board-certified family medicine physician treating patients at Mercy Health – Vermillion Primary Care. She is also board-certified in obesity medicine from the American Board of Obesity Medicine. In addition to family medicine, she treats patients for weight management and non-surgical services.

Dr. Nemeth is passionate about partnering with patients to develop a personalized program for achieving and sustaining lifelong weight loss goals. Her approach is focused on individualized patient specific goals, needs, overall health, and source of weight challenges. She received her medical degree from the Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed her residency at Firelands Regional Medical Center in Sandusky, Ohio.

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