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New Year, New Health Goals: Here’s How To Make Them Stick

Editor’s note: This story is part of our MC faculty and staff series in which professors and/or staff discuss relevant topics within their areas of expertise. India Hunter is Montgomery College’s collegewide wellness coordinator.

By India Hunter

Many people set new health goals for themselves when the holiday get-togethers are over. Typically, new-year goals focus on eating a healthier and more balanced diet, exercising more, getting more rest, losing a few pounds in the process, or even meditating. Whatever wellness goals you have for 2020, remember that everyone is different when it comes to what works.

India Hunter, MC’s collegewide wellness coordinator

Sure, some people can quit their lousy eating habits cold turkey. But most of us need an adjustment period to gradually make changes. The important thing to remember is to set SMART goals this year. “SMART” goals are: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Following these guidelines can help you stay on track and accountable for reaching your goals.

After the initial enthusiasm starts dwindling, it’s important to keep things fun and interesting. When your routine starts to become mundane, or you find yourself becoming less motivated, do something different. Try rock climbing, participating in a family fun-run, or going for a bike ride. Whatever you enjoy, try to incorporate it into your exercise routine as often as possible. By doing that, it will no longer feel like a chore but something you wish you could do more often.

Another option is to find a partner with experiences and expectations similar to yours. Having someone by your side to keep you accountable is a great way to stay on track.

A good motivator for maintaining your healthy habits is how you feel. At the end of the day, if you feel good, it will be easier to make good choices

When it comes to creating new health habits, there is no “one-size-fits-all” period of time. The main thing is to follow the specific goals you have created for yourself while also allowing some flexibility. If at the end of a long week of following your new routine you want to have dessert with your family, do it. Allowing yourself to have those small treats, in moderation, will help you stay on track because you won’t feel like you have to give up things you enjoy.

Employees stretch during one of MC’s wellness classes

A good motivator for maintaining your healthy habits, in my opinion, is how you feel. After a few weeks of incorporating healthier choices and routines into your lifestyle, you may notice you have more energy throughout the day, you may feel less stressed; you may even notice you aren’t as winded while taking the stairs. These are all indicators that your body is reacting positively from the new stimulus you have implemented. At the end of the day, if you feel good, it will be easier to make good choices.

Three Tips for a Healthy New Year:

  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! If you find it difficult to finish a large bottle of water, start drinking smaller (8 oz.) bottles. Refill it as many times as you can throughout your day. Each day try to drink one more than you did the day before.
  • Eat the rainbow. When eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner, try to make your plate as colorful as possible with various greens, veggies, and fruits. The more colorful, the better.
  • Break it up. If you don’t have time to do 30 minutes of exercise at once, break it up. Doing 10 minutes of physical activity three times a day is just as effective as doing it all at once.
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