To your health in the New Year

As we begin a new year, the toast “to your health” is often heard. Let me add to the chorus by wishing you and your family good health in the New Year - and each year thereafter.

Good health is at the center of everything that’s important to us. Whether it is good or poor, your personal health and safety ripples out across every circle of your life. As our former state Senator Jerry Hughes always said, “Your health is your wealth.” This rings more true today than ever, and it applies to us as individuals and also as a community.

In recent years it has become increasingly clear that, in Minnesota as across the country, we need to get health care costs under control. And we can all contribute to keeping health costs under control by making and maintaining lifestyle changes that will keep us, to the extent possible, out of the health care “system”. Around this time of year, for example, many folks go on a diet or resolve to get more exercise.

When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, some people falter because they don’t make plans for dealing with inevitable temptations to smoke or overeat or give up exercise. Here are some ideas that may help:

• Form a support system of friends and family, who will cheer you on and also challenge you to stick to your goals.

• Make a list of the benefits of changing and put it someplace where you will see it every day.

• Pay attention to your thinking and try to counter negative ideas like “I’ll never succeed” with positive thoughts, like “Today, I made some progress.”

• Get plenty of sleep. If you’re trying to quit smoking, adequate rest and exercise are especially important.

• Surround yourself with people and situations that encourage you in good habits. Join a support group, get an exercise partner, or spend more time with friends who don’t smoke.

• Have a contingency plan for when you are tempted - if you want to smoke, go for a walk instead, or call a friend.

• Give yourself rewards and pats on the back for your progress.

One of the most important secrets to keeping those New Year’s resolutions is to take the process of change one day at a time. It’s okay to make big changes through taking small steps. If we can do just a little bit to get going, we’ll soon feel the positive effects of the change - and that little bit of change can lead to long-term healthy habits that last far beyond New Year’s Day.

I have one more personal resolution I’d like to share. I believe that we are at a time when differences must be put aside and fences need to be mended. For too long, gridlock has marred our legislative process in St. Paul and in Washington, D.C. What we need is action - to improve our public schools, fix our health care problems, and invest in our ailing transportation system.

To do this, many public officials will need to put old differences aside, forget our past wins and losses, and start working on building a better state and a better nation. I resolve to extend my hand across the aisle, and I’m sure my colleagues will do the same. As always, my door is open to anyone who wants to talk with me, express their views and share their ideas.

I encourage you to contact me about any issue of concern at 296-6820 (Capitol office) or 770-0283 (home), e-mail to sen.chuck., or write to 301 State Capitol, St. Paul, MN 55155. I look forward to hearing from you. I also invite you to come and see me at the Capitol, or let me know if you’d like me to stop by your home or apartment for a visit. Also, I invite you to watch my local cable TV show, “Your Capitol: What’s Up,” which appears on public access channels 15 and 16.

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