By Dr. Michael Jacobson, D.O., M.P.H., CHM Medical Director
*Editor’s note: This information was published in the January 2023 issue of Heartfelt Magazine, CHM’s monthly magazine that provides CHM membership-related tips and tricks, medical advice from doctors, testimonies from CHM members, and more. Please refer to the CHM Guidelines and applicable web pages for the most up-to-date information regarding CHM membership, sharing eligibility, and ministry news.*
Many, if not most, pause to contemplate New Year’s resolutions. Something about the year ending gives us a sense of new beginnings—what’s past should be left in the past, and it’s time for fresh starts. In that spirit, I offer seven general principles and resources that have served me well in my efforts to get the most in my health and life.
Affirm your own mortality
Recently, I attended the memorial service of a 43-year-old mother, who, with little warning, suddenly discovered she had an aggressive cancer that took her life within a matter of weeks. Over 1,000 people gathered to comfort one another and to honor and celebrate her life. It was a reminder that we never know when our time will come.
Funerals, births, graduations, weddings, and other benchmark occasions remind us of the passing of life and can motivate us to positive change. Moses, whom some believe to be the greatest leader of all time, wrote, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalms 90:12 KJV).
Living Forward by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy is an excellent book about goal-setting. There, the authors introduce the concept of a “Life Plan.” They recommend starting with imagining yourself at your own funeral and consider who will be there and what you’d like them to say about your life.
Set your goals within this context. Look at each major area of your life, identify where you want it to be at your life’s conclusion, and “reverse engineer” your goals to accomplish your targets. Hyatt also offers an online course and an accompanying book, Your Best Year Ever, which is a comprehensive approach to annual goal-setting.
Research shows that most people who set New Year’s resolutions forget them within a matter of weeks. They lack a system that keeps these goals visible to them throughout the year. I use a variation of the Full Focus planner by Michael Hyatt that keeps me revisiting these goals on a weekly basis.
In my experience, tools that confront me with a reality check of my habits keep me accountable. I use an app by My Fitness Pal to quickly capture my food intake and energy expenditure throughout the day.
Reap what you sow
Ask any farmer: you can’t plant apple seeds and expect bananas. Similarly, you can’t put garbage in your system and expect to be healthy. With personal health, there is no magic pill or secret diet formula that results in optimum health. They only work if they are based upon wholesome nutrition with healthy calorie intake.
The law of sowing and reaping is true for not only physical health, but for spiritual and emotional health as well. In fact, there’s significant research that shows that our spiritual and emotional state play a large role in determining our physical health. Think of all the people that pursued Jesus for healing. On countless occasions, He not only healed them physically, but He restored them to spiritual and emotional wholeness as well.
Finally, don’t try walking your journey alone. Invite others to join you. The three practices consistently associated with those who successfully attain sustained weight loss are:
- having a plan
- sharing their journey with others (accountability partners)
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NIV) says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”
Make it an exceptional year!