New Year, New You: Become a healthier you in the New Year


It’s that time again, ‘New Year, New You,” resolutions and goals for a better quality of life. We all have good intentions but end up abandoning them before Easter. However, goals can be hard to keep if there is no plan, and we cannot make plans without purpose or reason. It is essential to write them down, share them with family, friends, and decide how to hold yourself accountable. Begin by setting goals that will help you feel better physically, mentally, and are realistic. Here is how the New Year, New You can begin.

Get Clear: Make a Plan and Set a Goal

Making a plan and setting realistic goals is essential. According to the Health and Human Services website, African American women have the highest rates of being overweight compared to other groups in the U.S. 60% of black males and 78% of black females are obese. Carrying this excess weight can increase the risk of several conditions such as Heart disease, Type II Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, and stroke.

If this is your first time setting fitness goals or if you are getting back on the wagon, sometimes just committing to a 15-minute daily walk or drinking more water is a positive step. An hour of physical activity daily is a reasonable goal, but small increments are not out of the question. I always recommend that you see your doctor or physician first before starting any new fitness program.

Determine your “why”?

What is your motivation? It may be an upcoming event, vacation, birthday, or significant milestone. Whatever the goal, the plan must be clear. Your health and fitness goals may be centered around weight loss, lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, improving mobility & flexibility, or relieving stress. If your why is not addressed, it won’t be easy to see your goals come to fruition.

Plan & Prepare

Changing your mindset is essential in achieving your health, wellness, and fitness goals. This must be a LIFESTYLE change. Begin by adopting the 21/90 rule. It takes 21 days to commit to your goal so that it can become a habit. Once you have established this habit, you should continue this for another 90 days. Being realistic is one way the 21/90 rule is useful. Your goals need to be practical to stay motivated and see success. Give yourself 90 days to commit to your lifestyle change.

Preparing for a plan B when the realities of life (family, job, transportation, resources) happen and are crucial to staying on track. With many African American households led by single moms or single working parents, trying to keep active and eat healthy on a fixed income is a challenge. Plan your meals to save money when you grocery shop.   Find like-minded friends or an accountability partner to help you stay on the plan. Bring workout emergency snacks for those days you are staying late at work and need to eat before working out. Try to keep active during downtime. Your workouts and eating plan is your goal and your journey.

One of my favorite accountability tools is using an activity tracker, like a FitBit. Using an activity tracker can help boost your daily workouts and make them easier to achieve. Sign up for that neighborhood walk or race that benefits a cause. There are workouts online and streamed live that you can do at home. Download a free workout app on your phone. You can sign up for a gym membership or even join your local YMCA. Working out with people is helpful and keeps you motivated with like-minded individuals. There are fitness classes like Yoga, Pilates, Dance, water aerobics, Swim, Cycle, or Strength & conditioning classes that are for ALL ages and abilities that can fit with your schedule. Remember to go at your own pace and continue to be realistic with your goals.

Need more help? Consider hiring a professional. Trainers can help design workouts and physical activity according to your needs or physical abilities, and a Health Coach helps with one on one accountability and support. Asking for professional help leads to changes and overall self progression to make this a Lifestyle Change.

As we begin this decade, 2020 seems to hold high expectations and promises of change. As African Americans, our health and wellness should be taken more seriously than ever. Obesity and poor eating habits open the door to many adverse health issues that can lead to sickness and even death. You have a why and you have a goal. It is time to make a plan of action and prepare for success. Go at your own pace and be realistic. Your goals and expectations for success in the New Year should be about having a quality of life that has you physically and mentally strong but healthy as well.

Let the new decade Begin! Plan! Prepare! Execute!!!

-Shera Strange, Contributing Writer


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