Change is never easy. And as we kick off 2018, many of us have set goals to help change or better ourselves, in one way or another, this new year. Whether that’s to “enjoy life to the fullest,” “live a healthier lifestyle” or to “pay down debt” – which were all included as the most popular resolutions for 2018 – a new year provides a fresh opportunity to fulfill our goals.

However, it’s important to be realistic about those resolutions, especially when it comes to living a healthier lifestyle.

“The most common mistake we make is changing too many habits at one time,” says Raylene Hungate, a registered dietitian at Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville. “We often feel overwhelmed, and when we fail to achieve all the goals we set, we lose motivation and return to old habits.”

According to U.S. News, approximately 80 percent of resolution-ers fail by the second week of February.

Hungate, who counsels patients on surgical and non-surgical weight loss options at the HCA-affiliated hospital, says the best way to gain control of your overall health and wellbeing is to make small, obtainable resolutions.

“The smallest of changes can lead to great improvements,” she says. “Imagine setting a goal of replacing 1 can of regular soda with water every day. Over the year, this could prevent those sugary beverages from adding 15 pounds to our waistline. Just that one small change can make quite a difference.”

As we move through 2018, Hungate put together this six-point blueprint to help you stay on the right path and conquer your “new year, new you” resolutions.

  1. What is your “why?” This year, first figure out why you want to change. We all have a different reason to improve, whether we are looking to improve our health, fit into that perfect outfit, or play with our kids. Determining your “why” will provide your reason for change, and with your reason, will come motivation.
  2. Set small, obtainable goals: When setting a realistic or obtainable goal, ask yourself: “Can I maintain this long-term?” Instead of focusing on changing all aspects of your life at one time, choose 1-2 items you can work toward, achieve and build upon. This year, let’s make changes that will not only last a week or a month, but a lifetime.
  3. Monitor and maintain: So, we have set a goal, now what? Write that goal down and place it where you will see it every day. Let this act as a reminder of what you want to monitor, what you have achieved, and what you want to maintain.
  4. Do you have a support system? We often think that asking for help is a sign of weakness, when really the support of a friend, family member, or coworker can provide strength. This new year find a buddy who can support you in positively changing your life.
  5. Focus on nutrition: There will always be a new fad diet. Before we jump on the bandwagon, think – is this maintainable? Diets are easy to follow for a short time, but eventually restriction leads us back to old habits. This year, try replacing rice with cauliflower, that evening dessert with berries and Greek yogurt, or that afternoon soda with more water. Flood your body with nutrition.
  6. Get your heart pumping: Ideally, we want to work towards 30 minutes of physical activity that you will enjoy at least four days per week. Physical activity should never be a chore. So find something you love or try out new and different exercises.

Happy New Year!


Raylene Hungate is a bariatric coordinator and registered dietitian at Memorial Hospital, part of the HCA South Atlantic Division network of hospitals. Hungate believes that nutrition is her calling, after growing up with family members who suffered from health conditions and struggled with weight management.