We’ve all been there. New year- new you! You’re going to lose that weight, exercise more, eat better, drink more water, and drink less alcohol. You’re finally going to commit to that half-marathon that taunts you annually when you see physically fit people proudly wearing the t-shirts that celebrate such a healthful event and their participation in it.

Baby Steps
That said, this is a great time of year to think- and rethink- about those New Year’s resolutions we so often feel compelled to make. For a lot of people, a new year seems the perfect time to make adjustments to their current lifestyle, specifically to their health and wellness. It feels empowering to decide to make big changes when the calendar turns, but the truth is that it’s the little changes over time that yields the best results.

In addition, it is best not to try to change too much all at once. So if you found yourself making a long list of things you’d like to accomplish this year, it is best to retool that list to a few manageable goals instead.

So instead of trying to lose fifty pounds over six months, start with a more achievable goal, like losing 5 pounds in a month. To start, ask yourself daily, ‘What is something I can do today that will bring me closer to my goal?’ This may mean taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work. This may mean replacing the sugary diet soda you’re still drinking with water instead. It may mean pausing halfway through a meal and asking yourself if you are still hungry, or if you are simply accustomed to finishing what is on your plate?

Be Accountable
Changing the way you’ve been doing things can be a challenge, especially if you’re trying to do it on your own. It’s proven that if you let other people know you’ve set a personal goal, you will feel a sense of responsibility and ownership that can help you on those days when you could so easily fall back into your old ways.

It is also a great morale booster when people start to take notice of the positive changes they see and are able to share that with you. Who doesn’t love to be told that they are looking great, or just seem happier?

If you’re leery of shouting your new goals from the rooftops, grab a journal and start writing things down that help you to focus. You can keep track of what you’re eating, how many steps you took that day, or simply how many hours of sleep you got the night before. It’s worth mentioning again, take a moment and have that inner dialogue and ask yourself, ‘What is something I did today that brought me closer to my goal?’

Go Take a Hike
We’re so lucky to live where we do, and the landscape around us is one definitely worth exploring! Sometimes exercise in the form of actual exercise can seem a little daunting. Making time to go to the gym can create an excuse in the form of needing to rearrange your schedule, and then before you know it, you’ve talked yourself out of going.

Conversely, if you simply decide to take the dog for a walk, you are less focused on deliberately trying to exercise, and merely getting something done (that has great health benefits!)

If you are in need of some motivation to get outside, you don’t have to look very far. Beginners and experts alike enjoy Camelback Mountain, and Echo Canyon and Cholla Trail do not disappoint with their beautiful terrain. You’ll be so focused on the beauty around you, that it makes it easy to forget you’re getting the exercise your body so enjoys and deserves!

Quiet Your Inner Critic
We are immersed in a media rich culture that provides us with photos of new celebrity mothers who bounce back into top physical form just months- sometimes weeks!- after having given birth. The more unrealistic models we look to, the more harshly we judge ourselves.

In order to accomplish our personal goals, we need to keep in mind that they are just that- personal.

You’ve heard the saying Rome wasn’t built in a day, right? It’s easy to get discouraged when you get off track. The trick is to quickly forgive and forget and get back to doing the things you know are working for you.

You Can Do It!
Again, pick one or two realistic resolutions and break them down into small, manageable, achievable goals. It’s important to start with those things that are small so you start a pattern of success that will carry you through the rest of the year. Before long, old habits are just that, and with hard work and determination you’re on your way to a healthier, happier you!