Patrick Johnson garden

How have your New Year's resolutions gone so far this year? Yeah, me, too. Why not give them a re-do during the longest time of the year when nature is brimming with life and bursting with warmth and energy?

Now that the green season is starting to peak and the days stretch, we naturally feel more energized and want to be outdoors and moving. Mid-year resolutions are a time to look at where our health is at the halfway point of the year and set goals for the last half of the year … but in a different way.

November and December are difficult months. Preparing for the holidays, traveling to visit extended family, purchasing gifts, decorating, eating, eating and eating. I’m getting stressed just writing this. Almost everyone thinks about losing weight and exercising more by January. No wonder. Look what we just experienced the previous two months.

April and May speak of relaxation and welcoming summer. Watching trees fill up and gardens start to grow. Walking through our wonderful farmers markets. Setting health and wellness goals now can be done with a clear mind. Mid-year resolutions can be more relaxed, like summer. Not data driven and S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound). It’s summer for goodness sake. Relax.

One of my mid-year goals is to run on the Mountain to Sea Trail (MST) once a week. I’m exploring different entry points as a novice trail-runner. Just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, I’ve gone in at Woodfin Cascades, Standing Rock, Licklog and Grassy Ridge; all interesting in their own way. I like the fun of rocky, dirt paths. I run out a set distance and then reverse course and run back. It’s good stress that pushes my physical limits. The MST is enjoyable and challenging. But if I miss a week, and I know I will, oh, well.

I should fit more walks in. I know Kathie and Piper would like it if I would be more open to walking. Days are longer and the temperature is perfect in the evenings. What’s my excuse?

Eating right in the summer is easy. Gardens are producing right now. We have the Thursday evening Canton Farmers Market and the Saturday morning Historic Farmers Market in Waynesville. Great for dog walking, people watching and buying fresh veggies. My berry patch will soon give me more raspberries and black berries than I can eat daily.

When I look back at my New Year's goals, I see what worked for me. Taking the Great Smokies Writing Course at UNC-A this past winter pushed me to sharpen my skills. I need to take another one in the fall. Trail running wasn’t on my list; it just happened and is now one of my routines I look forward to every week.

Summer is a time to walk, run and hike more, eat better and enjoy the outdoors. I encourage you to make some mid-year resolutions, just not ones you have to suffer through. See what happens.

(Patrick Johnson, RN, BSN, MPA is the former public health director in Haywood County, North Carolina. He worked in public health for 36 years in Florida and North Carolina. He retired from the U.S. Air Force Reserve Nurse Corps in 2013 as a Colonel after 27 years. Col Johnson is an Iraq war veteran and has run over 400 races from 5k to marathon. He’s been a vegetarian for 35 years. He’s also bounced back from a heart valve repair, a severe stroke, a seizure disorder and still battles atrial fibrillation and retirement. He continues to run, hike, lift weights, stretch, meditate and has high hopes for the summer.)

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