Countdown to a healthy new you

by Julie Snyder

Fitness countdownToo often we put ourselves last -- behind the kids, the bills, the house, work, a partner or family. This is never truer than in matters of health.

Let this year be different!

This is your year to meet those New Year's resolutions head on and make a positive change of a lifetime.

Is your goal to lose weight, get in shape, eat more nutritious meals, kick that stress or something else?

No matter what your main focus is, the hardest step is getting started. You can do this and stay inspired!

Countdown to a healthy new you

Make a (do-able) plan

In order to succeed, you must set reasonable goals. For instance, you aren't going to compete in a marathon mid-January if you've been nothing but a couch potato until this point.

A more reasonable goals? Strive to compete in a 5k walk in March. Reduce the amount of processed foods in your diet. Make a point to rest each and every day.

If you choose to create unreasonable goals, you'll be doomed to fail.

Embrace today's you

Right now, this very minute, give yourself a virtual hug. "Why?" you might ask. Because you're worth loving. Yes, even with a few extra pounds or a twister-swept living room.

You don't have to change yourself to be lovable. You are choosing to make changes because you love yourself.

Ask the right questions

You've asked yourself what you want. Now let's ask some powerful questions:

How will you know that you've reached your goal? Clearly define the finish line. It might be fitting into your size 12 jeans or completely week 3 of the couch to 5K. Then celebrate!

If you had any resource in the world, what steps would you take to reach your goal? We all have limitation; our next step is to find a way to work with what's available to you.

What are your options? Which ones can most effectively help you on your path? Your health insurance may have a wellness plan with coaches. Perhaps the gym offers the perfect class.

What will you do? When will you start? Instead of "lose 10 pounds," nail that goal. "Starting Monday and for two weeks, I will eat breakfast, skip the second servings and have fruit for dessert."

Who can be your cheering section and give you a hand? Get a fitness buddy or join a support group, like Pregnancy.org's Biggest Loser Board.

Here's looking at the healthier new you!

Speaking of resources, here's a few to help you along the way.

MyPlate -- tips for healthy eating
Nutrition for the new mom
Making weight resolutions stick
Exercise safely during pregnancy

Your health -- emotional and physical -- is the best gift that you can give to yourself. You'll have more energy, feel better and to be happier with your life. Bring your family along for the ride; their health and well-being benefits, too.

Remember, you're making a lifetime journey. If you falter along the way, don't use that as an excuse to quit. Instead, view it as a renewed challenge that you will achieve!

Will you been hitting the road to "healthier" this year. What's your plan?

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.