A hiker and her dog going up Claremont Canyon fire trail. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

By Susan Helmrich

Last year, around this time I wrote an article about New Year’s resolutions and exercise. So, how did you do?

The holiday season is upon us once again, and it is time to reflect on the past year and look forward to the new. The new year is a time to make resolutions, if you are so inclined, which is merely another way of setting goals for yourself for the coming year. How are you doing with your health and wellness? Do you have goals that you would like to accomplish? Does the whole process feel impossible and overwhelming to you? It doesn’t have to be.

Here are 12 of the best health and wellness changes you can make in the New Year:

1. Get a pedometer and work towards logging 10,000 steps each day.
2. Keep a journal and write it down – what you eat and how much you exercise.
3. Get 8 hours of sleep.
4. Reduce your intake of processed food and limit salt, sugar and fat
in your diet.
5. Read Michael Pollan’s book Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual.
6. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water – stay away from high-sugar soft drinks, sodas — as well as drinks like Starbucks venti Java Chip Frappuccino which has 620 calories.
7.  Set S.M.A.R.T goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-dependent.
8. Find activities that you love and recruit a friend to do them with you.
9. Snack smart – fruits, vegetables and nuts rather than chips, candy and cookies.
10. Turn off your inner critic and negative thoughts, and focus on your strengths and successes.
11. Visualize yourself where you want to be — a strong mental image provides motivation.
12. Be grateful. This is the one factor most highly correlated with happiness.

Susan Helmrich is a health and wellness coach and the owner of Health and Wellness Matters. She swims 4,000 yards every morning at 6 am.

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