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Health Strategies for the New Year

girl at start line

New year, new you. That’s the attitude many of us take as the calendar turns to a new year, a new month and, this year, a new decade. The most popular resolutions center around our physical health. In 2019, roughly 54-71% of people made goals that focused on eating healthier, exercising more or losing weight, according to a survey by Inc. magazine.

“The new year is a great time to reflect on the past year and reset your goals for a healthy, fulfilling 2020,” says Julia Isom, DO, family medicine physician at Roper St. Francis Healthcare.

This year turn your resolutions into healthy habits that stick with a few simple strategies.

Take it one step at a time

Change doesn’t happen overnight. Break your resolution down into smaller, manageable mini-goals, advises Dr. Isom.

“If you want to eat healthier in 2020, start by making specific, smaller goals for each month,” she suggests. “For example, focus on eating more vegetables in January or cut the sugar in February – whatever makes sense for your lifestyle and goals. You’ll find it’s easier to create new habits when you start small instead of overhauling your entire life in one day.”

Whether you’re focusing on your weight, exercising more or focusing on another goal, remember to take it one step at a time. This way, you’ll find yourself creating habits that last longer than just one year.

Find a friend

Healthy changes are more fun when you have a friend or partner on the journey. Find someone interested in making similar changes in 2020. Then, find ways to include them in your routine:

  • Take your weekly check-in on the go and walk around the office building instead of sitting in a conference room.
  • Sign up for a cooking class with a friend to learn healthy eating habits.
  • Schedule a weekly bike ride with your family to explore the neighborhood and exercise together.

Keep it fun

Eating healthy, getting active and connecting with others: these are fun, positive experiences. Focus on the positives to make healthy changes something you look forward to, not something you have to do. This all comes down to mindset explains Dr. Isom.

“The truth is that you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to,” she says. “So, why force yourself to eat a vegetable you don’t like or participate in an activity that’s not fun? There are so many ways to live a healthy lifestyle. Find what you like that works for you – not what a magazine says you should do, or a friend swears by.”

One way to find fun activities is to try new things. You’ll likely find something you enjoy – and create new friendships while you’re at it. If you’re not sure where to start, begin by looking for classes that interest you and groups that share similar interests, such as:

Get support

A support system is key in helping you reach your goals. Ask a family member to hold you accountable or find a professional to help guide you on your path.

“A healthy lifestyle isn’t something you have to do on your own,” reminds Dr. Isom. “Seek support from others. That may mean a family member who cheers you on from the sidelines or a doctor or expert who answers your questions as you make important changes.”

The perfect place to start building the support system you need is by talking to your doctor before you begin any new health regimen. Your doctor can also point you toward groups and resources you may want by your side in 2020, including:

If you’re ready to start 2020 on the right foot, find a primary care provider near you and take the first step to a healthier, happier you.