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Healthy Tips for the New Year

By David Donovan


"This year, I will eat better. This year, I will lose weight. This year, I will be healthy."


Now that the holidays are behind us and a new year is beginning, many people are making the commitment to get back to their healthy habits. Or, maybe they never really tried to make a change before, and now is the time to take some positive steps toward good health.


If people focus on attainable goals, instead of a total transformation, they are more likely to be successful in making lifestyle changes," said Tim Steenberg, Manager of Corporate Wellness for Independent Health. "Whether you want to eat healthier foods, be more active, stop smoking, or manage stress better, these tips from Independent Health's Wellness Department may help you meet your goals."


  • Do it for yourself. Choose a goal that is really important to you, and that you feel is attainable.


  • Be reasonable and realistic. Try to change just one habit at a time. Don't deprive yourself of everything.  Most people are less likely to follow a healthy plan if it makes them miserable.


  • Focus on changing behaviors rather than reaching numbers. Substituting fresh vegetables for chips as an evening snack is a reasonable and attainable goal. Getting to whatever number you have in mind for your goal weight may not be as easy. But sticking to your new healthy change just might help you get there.


  • Be specific in your goals. For instance, don't just say "this year, I'm going to be more active."  Instead, write down a daily plan to include a 15-minute walk after dinner, and build from there


  • Keep those written goals and objectives visible. Many people get so caught up in their daily lives that it is easy to lose sight of goals. Put your personal goals in a place where you will see them regularly as a reminder.


  • Share your goals with supportive people. Is there a "cheerleader" in your life who has always been there for you, encouraging you to keep going even when things get tough? Let that person know your plans for change. Or, finding an "exercise buddy" is a great way to keep both of on track with your goals.


  • Look for outside support. For example, if quitting smoking is your goal, you may want to call the New York State Smokers' Quitline.


  • Take one day at a time. Don't worry about whether you can keep up your new behavior all year. Try to do it just for today.


  • Stay positive! Our emotions play a big part in our ability to successfully make changes. When you find negative thoughts creeping into your mind, replace them with some positive affirmations such as "I accept myself just as I am right now" or "I'm getting healthier every day."


Everyone knows that change isn't easy. Habits become ingrained in our lives, both the good and the bad. If you have a setback, acknowledge it, learn from it, and start over again. It takes time, perseverance and patience to make changes.

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