Happy 2024! For many of us, a new year means new resolutions. Even if you didn’t make any as the clock wound down on Dec. 31, it’s never too late to set some goals for self improvement. As we reach the middle of January, potential setbacks to success have probably already started rearing their head. T&S reached out to Dr. Becky Lynn of Evora Women’s Health to learn about what changes you can make for your best year yet.

5 resolutions for 2024

  1. Exercise more. “Many people don’t realize just how important staying active is, especially as we get older,” Lynn notes. “Exercise has so many important benefits. It lowers risk of diabetes and heart disease, promotes brain health and is the cheapest, most accessible antidepressant available.” She adds that with age, both men and women naturally lose muscle mass and must work more to maintain it, so incorporating physical activity in daily routines is a critical lifestyle change.
  2. Eat healthier. Lynn recommends also thinking about changes you can make to your diet, such as limiting processed foods and sugar. “What we do today, including what we eat, determines who we are in 20 years,” she says. “Oftentimes, we don’t think about preventative measures until we’re in our 40s and already noticing changes, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.”
  3. Limit alcohol. Thanks to recent research, we have a greater understanding of the negative impact alcohol consumption can have on people’s health, especially women’s. “Limiting your alcohol intake or not drinking at all is one of the ways you can lower your risk for breast cancer,” Lynn explains. “Dry January is a great idea for getting started with making this change.”
  4. Put your health first. “For parents and especially moms, work and kids’ commitments can become the priority,” Lynn notes. “It’s so important that people take the time to do what is necessary for their own wellbeing. You’re a better parent when you make healthy choices and take care of yourself.”
  5. Talk with your health care provider. If your goals for 2024 are related to your health, whether it’s diet, exercise, quitting smoking or something else, Lynn suggests consulting with your health care provider. “It’s important that you work with someone who is taking a holistic look at your lifestyle,” she says. “They can help you incorporate important preventative measures that you can build into good habits that will lead to a long and healthy life.”

tips for making lasting change

  1. Start small. You may have started off the year with a lot of big plans, from losing weight and eating your vegetables to volunteering more and using your phone less. According to Lynn, small changes are a better option. This sets you up for success rather than feeling like a failure when you can’t do everything. “If you were not exercising and decided in January that you’re going to start doing so every day, you’re probably going to fail,” she says. “Set a smaller, more attainable goal and build from there. The best way to create new habits is with baby steps.”
  2. Be specific. Resolving to be a better person is great, but what does it look like in practice? Set firm, realistic goals to achieve, such as committing to volunteer once a week. However, also be prepared to be flexible. If your first resolution doesn’t fit with your schedule, don’t give up. Scale it back. If you’re more forgiving to yourself, it will mean less disappointment and frustration.
  3. Choose a new resolution. Do you set a goal to exercise more every year, but February always finds you wasting your gym membership? Avoid falling into the same pitfalls by modifying your usual goal or choosing something different. This may increase your chances at success. If keeping active is what you want, instead of regimented gym time, aim for something like walking the dog every day or more outside playtime with the kids.
  4. Pick someone to hold you accountable. According to experts, social support is one of the top predictors to keeping a resolution. A goal set as a group may be more likely to succeed since you’re accountable to someone else. Find a friend who is willing to work out with you, or as a family, choose to set aside time for healthy meal planning. You also can find support from a professional like a health coach to help keep you on track and motivated.
  5. Take your time. Changes in your routine don’t instantly become second nature. In fact, it can take around 66 days for a behavior to become a habit, according to UC Davis Health. If you falter in your resolution, don’t give up. Start again or make adjustments if necessary. Keeping at it is what will lead to long-term success.

Additional Source: UC Davis Health