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Take healthy approach to 2002 resolutions

By Thurston Hatcher

(CNN) -- However you resolve to stay healthy in 2002, you might want to resolve, first and foremost, to stick to your resolutions.

The key to accomplishing that, experts say, is to set specific, manageable, measurable goals for yourself as you lay out your New Year's agenda.

Big goals are fine -- losing weight, say, eating better, or exercising more -- but you might have more success if they're accompanied by what New York dietitian Lisa Drayer calls "mini-goals."

Those mini-goals might include cutting your food portions in half if you want to drop some pounds, or walking for 20 minutes, three times a week, if you want to up your exercising.

"They're more realistic and they're more achievable and more likely to lead you in the direction of achieving your larger goal," says Drayer, who serves as "e-counseling" program director for

What's your New Year's resolution?

Quit smoking
Lose weight
Exercise more
Relax more
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Some resolutions to consider for 2002:

- Eat more whole-grain foods
- Eat more low-fat foods
- Count your calories
- Get a health screening
- Start an exercise routine
- Reduce stress
- Quit smoking

The problem with overly ambitious goals is they may take time to achieve, and some folks may get discouraged without some early, tangible results.

In addition to keeping your grand ambitions somewhat in check, try not to take on too many resolutions at once, Drayer says.

"I would try to take it a few at a time. What I recommend is never starting more than one new mini-goal each week," she says.

So if one of your big New Year's resolutions is to eat better in 2002, Drayer suggests these mini-goals to go with it: 1) Eat two more fruits and vegetables each day; 2) Avoid all fried foods; 3) drink more water.

Here are some other health-related resolutions, big and small, to consider for the new year, courtesy of Drayer, the American Heart Association and the American Medical Association:

-- Choose whole-grain foods such as oatmeal, rice and whole-grain bread

-- Seek low-fat or nonfat dairy products

-- Seek lower-fat sources of protein, including skinless poultry, fish and lean meat, and limit the serving size to 4 ounces.

-- If you're trying to lose weight, make sure the number of calories you take in is less than what you burn. To help you keep track, maintain records of what you eat.

-- Get an age-appropriate health screening. Women should talk to their doctor about cholesterol tests, mammograms, Pap smears, colorectal exams and more. Men under 40 need a physical at least every four years, and after 40 they need annual screenings for colon, rectal and prostate cancer.

-- Seek ways to manage stress. Even a five-minute break can help relieve stress, the AMA says.


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