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You can start a new routine at any time, but there’s something about the turn of a calendar year that can be extra inspiring when it comes to goal setting for a healthier lifestyle. And while you may be tempted to make major changes, the secret to success is less complicated than you think.

“If you’re looking to start or elevate your healthy-living routine in the New Year, the answer to how to go about it is actually quite simple,” says Dr. Ian Barry, DC, LifeClinic chiropractor in Bridgewater, N.J. “Many people try to come out of the gates at 100 percent, but simple, gradual, personalized changes are the keys to a sustainable healthy routine.”

For advice and inspiration, we asked Barry and six other healthy-living experts to share their best tips for picking up healthy habits and sticking to your goals — throughout the year.

Dr. Ian Barry, DC

LifeClinic chiropractor in Bridgewater, N.J.

1. Take steps to prevent injury.

If you’re switching up your routine, make sure your body is up for the challenge. Chiropractic care can help ward off injuries and identify movement deficiencies to make sure you’re functioning optimally. The goal in working with a chiropractor is to improve function rather than just chase short-term pain relief. Maintaining consistent care can lead to overall harmony between the major systems of the human body.

2. Start with simple habits.

If you’re working out a lot, your results will likely be suboptimal if your hydration, nutrition, and sleep habits are not in a good place, or if you’re not currently moving much. I recommend checking in on these basic behaviors before adding something bigger to your routine. Drink enough water (about half of your body weight in ounces daily), limit processed foods, focus on sleeping seven to eight hours nightly, and start walking.

3. Visualize and write down your goals.

I believe in the power of visualization and setting clear intentions. The New Year is a great opportunity to envision how you want to feel at your healthiest and strongest. I like to write down my big-picture goals (six or more months down the road) and the smaller goals that will help get me there. (Learn more: “Habit Hacking for Health: A 4-Step Plan”)

Jason Greenwald

Studio leader at Life Time in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

4. Block time for your goals.

Prioritize your goals by securing time to make them happen. For example, hold yourself accountable by signing up for a group fitness class or Dynamic Personal Training session and keeping it on your calendar.

5. If you get off track, don’t give up.

There are so many distractions and ways for our goals and routines to go astray. If you find yourself falling out of routine, re-motivate yourself by trying something new, asking a friend to keep you accountable, or starting back up with a small habit or activity.

Tina Kuharski

ARORA-certified dynamic personal trainer at Life Time in Maple Grove, Minn.

6. Surround yourself with positive influences.

Keep people around you who help you feel energized and inspired on your journey. It’s much easier to focus on and stick to your goals when you’re with fun people who make you feel good — and who are also pursuing a healthy lifestyle.

7. Lean on others for support.

Choose one to two goals you would like to achieve and write them down. Share them out loud with people who will cheer you on, celebrate your wins with you, and support you if you need a push.

Ariel Pohl, CPT

Dynamic Personal Trainer at Life Time in Westminster, Colo.

8. Start now — and start small.

The procrastination game is real. Remember: It’s a marathon, not a sprint. You don’t have to completely transform overnight — nor is that the ticket to long-term success. Give yourself the time to integrate small healthy habit changes in your life so you don’t quit before you even start.

9. Stay consistent.

My clients usually find success when their routine is consistent. This could mean doing the same regimen of workouts every week (that is, of course, until it’s time to progress) or eating from the same rotation of healthy breakfasts every day. Making things overly fancy can mentally make it hard to stay on track and see the gradual results. Keeping your workouts and nutrition similar each week can take away added stress.

Anna Taylor, CPT

Dynamic Personal Trainer at Life Time in Woodbury, Minn.

10. Don’t overdo it.

If you are starting a new routine, keep the workouts challenging yet tailored to your personal abilities. Coming in too hot or going too hard for a workout will leave you gassed out and too sore for the next session. Begin at your pace so that you can continue to make progress week to week. Focus on getting one percent better each time.

Emma Graves

Signature group training coach and studio performer at Life Time River North at One Chicago in Chicago, Ill.

11. Create a routine that brings you bliss.

Build healthy habits into a lifestyle that brings you joy! If you want to make big health or fitness changes in your life, you have to bring intention to it: Take time to learn what works for you and dedicate time for your new habits. It may also require investing some money here and there.

These efforts shouldn’t make you feel miserable, though. Healthy living is not meant to be a punishment. When you build a lifestyle that you love, you’ll enjoy the journey — and you might even find yourself accomplishing more than you originally planned.

12. Choose dedication over motivation.

You won’t feel motivated every day, but every day you can choose to be dedicated. Decide ahead of time that, on days when you don’t feel motivated, you will choose to show up for yourself anyways — for the purpose of growth and to hold yourself to that choice.

13. Celebrate your accomplishments.

When you inevitably stray from your plan — which is fine — don’t waste time or energy shaming yourself. Instead, acknowledge it and move forward confidently, reminding yourself how far you’ve already come.

And when you do stick to your plan, celebrate those moments! No matter what, it’s important to speak kindly to yourself.

14. Enlist others for guidance and support.

This isn’t something you have to do alone! If you have a question or could use help forming or executing on a plan, Life Time is full of experienced professionals who are happy to help you. They can be great for taking the guesswork out of your approach, personalizing your routine, keeping you accountable, and sharing in your accomplishments.

Katie Knafla, RD

Program manager for lab testing at Life Time

15. If you have a goal, make a plan.

It’s one thing to say, “I want to lose weight.” It’s another to say, “I want to strength train three times a week and eat 30 grams of protein at breakfast each day.” Once your goals are in place, things like scheduling workouts into your week, making grocery shopping lists, and partnering with experts (when needed) such as a Dynamic Personal Trainer or nutrition coach is really what’s going to get you across the finish line.

16. Expect roadblocks.

I always remind my clients that achieving goals won’t be a straight path — there will be peaks and valleys along the way. When you do eventually slip from your routine (which happens to everyone), don’t wait until Monday, next month, next year, or whenever it is to start again. Get back on track at the next meal, snack, or workout. One slip is not going to set you off course. It’s what you do most of the time that counts.

Emily
Emily Ewen

Emily Ewen is a senior writer and content editor at Life Time.

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