Cedars-Sinai Playa Vista’s Dr. Ruchika Chhibar offers three New Year’s resolutions that busy people can actually keep
Story and Photograph by Courtnay Robbins
The beginning of a new year is an ideal opportunity for personal renewal and fresh starts. Whether you’re trying to lose a few pounds or improve your mood, Dr. Ruchika Chhibar of Cedars-Sinai Playa Vista shares three healthy New Year’s resolutions that are achievable for busy people.
1. Make Exercise Part of Your Routine
We all know we have to exercise to maintain good health, yet we often find it difficult to set aside time to work out.
“You have to make a plan to exercise regularly. If you plan to do 150 minutes of moderate exercise, you can space it out in a period of a week. If that’s too much, start slow and progress towards that. Don’t be too hard on yourself,” Chhibar says.
If you have a busy work schedule and sit at a desk all day, be sure to get up every hour to walk around — even if just for a minute or two. If you have a meeting planned, use that as an opportunity to move. “There are so many opportunities to walk [in Playa Vista],” she says. “Walk and talk.”
2. Take Mindfulness Seriously
Mental health goes hand-in-hand with physical health. Chhibar recommends practicing mindfulness exercises for improved mental and emotional health.
“I know it’s tough to find one hour every day to do meditation and yoga,” she says, “but if you just find five to ten minutes just to concentrate on your breathing, that really helps.”
Mindfulness practice can reduce stress, chronic pain and sleep disturbances. The Cedars-Sinai Integrative Health Program offers mindfulness training through daylong workshops and an eight-week program in Playa Vista.
3. Cut Back on Processed Food
Maintaining a healthy bodyweight can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and certain cancers. If you have a few pounds to lose, Chhibar recommends choosing whole grains and veggies over processed foods that are often high in salt and concentrated sugars.
“Processed food has a lot of sodium,” Chhibar warns. “Two grams of sodium in 24 hours is good for everybody, even patients with health issues.” And if you pick up a packaged meal that has more than that, it’s better to put it back on the shelf.
Cut back slowly on unhealthy foods that have been part of your diet for a long time. When you change your eating habits, it may take a couple weeks until you start to notice any difference in your body weight or energy level.
Bottom Line: Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
Set realistic goals and don’t give up.
“If you take care of your body and if you are mindful, people are finding their lifespan is longer and healthier,” Chhibar says. “You feel good emotionally and physically.”