Nutrition Articles

New Year, New Start, New You!

Welcome to the New Year—a perfect time to start a journey toward better health.

Perhaps your diet and exercise habits need a tune-up. Granted, changing these habits is easier said than done. But with a positive "can-do" attitude and a realistic action plan, you can take strides to be a healthier new you.

Try these tips to make this year your healthiest year yet:

Map out a plan. Before embarking on your healthy lifestyle journey, map out specific and realistic goals. For example, instead of saying you'll "exercise more," set a goal to meet a friend for a half-hour walk at 7:30 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Or, if you always grab fast food for lunch, decide to bring your lunch to work on Tuesdays and Thursdays—and stock your kitchen with the nutritious lunch fixings you need to make it happen.

Go slow. It's tempting to "totally revamp" your habits, but changing just one or two habits at a time works best. Once a new habit is second nature, add a new goal or expand on a current one. For instance, walk an extra day each week or start eating fruit for your afternoon snack.

Make small changes. Small changes add up to big results over time—and are more likely to become permanent habits. Exercising a little more or trimming a few calories aren't major changes, so they're easier to do. Plus, meeting mini-goals each day helps you stay motivated and reinforces that "can-do" attitude.

Redefine your relationship with food. Food is meant to be enjoyed, not feared. Eating a nutritious diet doesn't mean deprivation—it means choosing a balance of flavorful, nutrient-rich foods and including your favorites in moderation, too.

Consider these dishes: Slow-cooked smoky chili rich with lean ground beef, pinto, kidney and black beans, green peppers and tomatoes. A salad of delicate mixed greens, chopped apple, toasted pecans and a sprinkle of blue cheese. Blackened spicy chicken breast topped with a salsa of buttery avocado, lime and cilantro. That's not deprivation, that's delicious nutrient-rich eating.

Accentuate the positive. Focus on the potential payoffs from healthy eating and exercise habits such as shedding extra pounds, lowering your cholesterol or feeling more energetic.

Expect some setbacks. It's natural to stumble now and then on the path to reaching your goals. Instead of beating yourself up, view setbacks as learning tools. Use them to figure out what didn't work and what to do differently in the future. Brush yourself off and get right back on track.

Remember, a healthy lifestyle is a journey, not a race. Stick with small changes—a new you is waiting right around the corner.

Here's wishing you a happy and healthy New Year!