From Florida Hospital

If you’ve turned the calendar page and realized you’re already falling behind on your New Year’s resolutions, don’t lose heart. There’s plenty of research that shows setting an annual list of vague goals to start on the first day of the year doesn’t work out for most people, anyway. So, forget resolutions. Any time is the right time to start your personal health revolution. Make the changes that positively affect the rest of your life, not just the rest of your year. Here are the first few steps.

Start small.

Joyce Cortes, MD, of Whole Health Family Medicine, says that when it comes to big change, thinking small is the way to go. “As we get older we have acquired habits that are difficult to break. It takes about 30 days to make new habits,” she says. Why not choose a specific starting point and hyper-focus on it? For example: everyone needs at least eight hours of sleep a night. If you’re not getting it, start there. After a few weeks of success, add a new piece to your health puzzle, like drinking enough water every day. The revolution doesn’t happen overnight – take it one day at a time.

Mindfully measure.

Look at where you have been and where you are going.  Examine what your future truly needs to look like. What absolutely must change? Investing in yourself now will pay dividends that will only increase over time. Set one goal and ask yourself: where do I want to be in a week? A month? Six months? Measuring your progress will keep you motivated to continue. “For example,” Dr. Cortes says, “if you need to lose 50 pounds, start with a goal of 10. If you would like to lose a pound a week, decrease your daily caloric intake by 500 calories. When you’re 10 down, start planning for the next 10.”

Get help.

Stop reading this and make an appointment with your primary care physician right now. When you get there, don’t just sit in the room. Have an open and honest conversation about your future risks and what you should do to minimize them. An annual physical, Dr. Cortes points out, is a great benchmark from which to proceed on your health journey.

A physical typically includes a head-to-toe physical exam as well as lab work to measure your blood pressure, BMI, glucose, and cholesterol. “Once we know your numbers, we can start working together to make positive changes,” says Dr. Cortes.

This visit is also the time to ask about any screenings you may be due to have. “For example, your colonoscopy should be done after 50,” Dr. Cortes says. Mammograms start at 40 or possibly earlier if you have a family member that has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Pap smears depend on age, but do not start until after age 21.” These screenings can be an essential part of your planning process and can be used to set healthcare goals.

Trade in bad processes.

A major factor in feeling run down and unhealthy is the average person’s intake of processed foods. “We’re all busy, but if you can avoid processed foods and fill just half of your plate with vegetables at mealtimes, it will make an enormous difference in your overall health,” Dr. Cortes says.  And it’s not just bad food habits that bog us down on the road to revolution. “Attitude is truly half the battle,” says Dr. Cortes. “Consider the health of your mind, body, and spirit. If you struggle with depression, you will struggle to achieve real change. Talk to your doctor and get started on the right foot.”

Make an appointment for your next health screening with Joyce Cortes, MD, at (407) 889-1953 or

About Joyce Cortes, MD

Joyce Cortes, MD is a board-certified internal medicine physician at Whole Health Family Medicine. She specializes in providing comprehensive care to adults, including: sick visits, chronic disease management, men’s and women’s healthcare, and geriatric care. Dr. Cortes is passionate about treating the mind, body and spirit of every patient, not just an illness. She is fluent in English and Spanish.


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