Five Healthy Habits to Start the New Year

Whether you’re trying to lose weight, gain weight, or just stay healthy, the New Year always brings a new set of goals and resolutions. While this change in lifestyle can often feel daunting, achieving goals does not have to be a solo mission.

“Let friends, family members and co-workers know what your goal is and what you are trying to do,” says Nancy Campbell, MS, exercise physiologist with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. “Having these people around can give you the support you need to reach that goal.”

As you work out healthy goals for 2014, consider these five tips from Campbell and Dana-Farber nutritionist Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD:

Nancy Campbell, MS, leads an exercise class
Nancy Campbell, MS, leads an exercise class

1. Set SMART goals

Instead of using the word “resolutions,” Campbell suggests making SMART goals, which are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and have a time frame. Stay away from general goals like “lose weight” or “get healthy,” and instead, set specific numbers for your achievements. For example, aim to lose five pounds by the end of March, or plan to attend the gym three days a week.

2. Avoid sitting all day

There are a number of health implications that can come with sitting for long periods of time, Campbell says. If you spend most of your day sitting, try to get up as often as possible to stretch your legs, even if it means putting a reminder in your calendar every day.


3. Eat colorful food

In addition to maintaining a healthy weight, Kennedy says it’s important a diet has fruits and vegetables rich in color. Colorful produce is filled with phytonutrients, which can boost your immune system and help your body with recovery after treatment or surgery.


4. Limit alcohol consumption

Reducing alcohol in your diet will not only save money, it may also lower the risk of developing some cancers. According to a recent study, women who drank as little as three to six glasses of wine a week increased their breast cancer risk by about 15 percent.

5. Be patient

As you work through each of your New Year goals, remember to be kind to yourself. “Things aren’t going to happen overnight,” Campbell says. Working small changes into your life may take some time, but they will make a big difference in the long run.

In addition to these tips, Campbell and Kennedy also recommend seeking guidance from nutritionists, counselors, personal trainers, or survivorship experts who can help you set realistic goals and keep you on track.

For more information on exercise consults and classes, visit the web page for the Dana-Farber Adult Survivorship Program. More health tips and recipes are available on the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center Nutrition Program website.