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Wow! Can you believe 2013 is only 15 days from ending?! Personally, I'm ready to say good-bye to this year. It has been the most difficult year I've encountered in my 26 years alive. There were some great things (I passed the RD exam!), but there were a lot more trying times, unfortunately. I hope that your 2013 was quite the opposite! Nonetheless, 2014 is upon us, and so is the time to begin thinking about how we're going to make it better than any other year. RESOLUTIONS! It's hard to stick with a strict resolution, so most people only last a few days or weeks before they're back to old ways.

Are there any of you out there that have stuck with a resolution for the full 12 months, or at least 6 months?!

I just want to give some advice on how to make your resolutions attainable, and better yet, how to make them sustainable!

1. Instead of saying "I want to lose 30 lbs," try something like, "My goal is 10 lbs." If you set small goals instead of one large goal, the end result doesn't seem so unattainable. Thinking in large quantities will only make it harder because you're dwelling on how much further you have to go and not how far you've come. See, it's all about looking at the glass half full. :) Once you've achieved a 10 lb weight loss, shoot for 10 more. Before you know it, you've reached 30 lbs! Wahoo!

2. Resolve to drink more water. If you say, "I'm not drinking any more soda," you may find yourself indulging in things like sweet tea or sweetened coffee drinks, which really are not any better (sometimes, they're worse!). It's always important to make sure you're drinking enough water throughout the day, so start the new year by promising yourself you'll drink 1 more glass this day than the day before. Before you know it you're drinking mostly water and not filling up on sugary and/or carbonated drinks.

3. Find fun exercises and activities you can do without having to join a gym. I'm pretty sure gyms and fitness centers rely on the month of January to set their profit for the entire year, but it doesn't have to be that way! You want to lose weight? Ok. You don't have to join a gym. Sure, you can. I have a gym membership, so I'm not saying anything bad about gyms, but for some people gyms can be intimidating and frightening. (I mean, you have the "meat heads" who hog the equipment, grunt loudly, and sweat all over the machines and don't wipe them down. You've also got those peppy, slightly bordering neurotic aerobics and Zumba instructors bouncing around trying to find more people to pack in a glass room with little A/C.) But, you can get a great workout in when you're focused and not worried about people looking at you. Let's face it, you're all there for the same purpose: to get healthy. If you're one of those people who just can't do it, but you feel "pressured" to get a membership because that's the only way to get exercise; find something else! You can begin walking on your lunch break for 10-20 minutes. Take your walking shoes and hit the sidewalk. Not a sidewalk around your office? Walk circles around the parking lot. You might get a little sweaty, so make sure you have some extra deodorant and powder to freshen up before going back to your desk. Or, get your neighbor or girlfriend to meet you for a walk after work. 30-45 minutes of brisk walking is great. Remember to stretch afterwards so you won't be sore. You can play outside with your kids (if you have them) by kicking a soccer ball around or practicing lay-ups on the basketball goal (hey, who doesn't need to know how to do a lay-up, right?!). Hit the hiking trails on the weekends. Main point here: just get outside! Aim for 45-60 minutes 3-5 times a week. On days that you can't spend that much time, aim for 10-30!

4. Try new foods. So many people get wrapped up in the fad diets going around. I have several "pet-peeve diets." ie: any kind of "diet pill" or "weight loss supplement." (Those things are ridiculous, bogus claims to get your money.) Plus, who knows what kind of long-term effects they have on your body, because the FDA sure doesn't. In fact, the FDA only researches them if a bunch of people get really sick or (God forbid) die from them! I also don't care for diets that eliminate food groups. ie: carb free, no dairy, etc. So, my favorite resolution, and one that I plan on committing to in 2014 myself is to try new foods. Set a goal to try a new fruit and vegetable at least every month. If you get a chance to try more, go for it! I feel, as Americans, we're pretty closed-minded on different types of foods, and one thing's for sure, there are plenty of foods that are good for us if we'd give them a chance. I'm not saying that you have to like them, but if you try it you just may like it. :)

5. Read more. Ok, this one may throw you off. But, I defintely think it's important to find something to engage our minds in. It's been proven by research that stimulating your mind through reading, doing puzzles, and even figuring math problems keeps your brain function up to par and can reduce signs of dementia and even Alzheimer's. So, try to resolve to read more books for fun, or grab a word search puzzle book at the dollar store, or volunteer to help kids with math homework (only if you think you're good enough at solving math problems). All of these things can keep your mind sharp which in turn keeps you healthy for the long haul.

I hope you enjoy coming up with a resolution to make 2014 the best year yet! Be well, my friends! :)

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