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Tara Dunker

Tara Dunker

If you’re anything like 40-60 percent of American adults, you kicked off the new year with a plan to "be better" or "do better" in one or more areas of your life.

Whether you call them resolutions or goals, it likely comes as no surprise that the top two each year tend to involve weight loss and exercise.

Throughout the month of January, there was no shortage of support for your resolutions, with bloggers, news outlets, and health professionals filling your screens with helpful tips to improve your health in the new year. The marketplace was all fresh fruits and vegetables, kitchen gadgets to make meal prep a breeze, and new and improved workout gear to help you live your best life.

Fast-forward to February, and chocolate-covered this and candied that are everywhere you turn. Red boxes shaped like hearts fill the store shelves and offer an endless assortment of sugary treats for you and your loved ones. It can feel like the whole world is tempting you to stray from your goals.

When temptation strikes (as it tends to do) remember that a healthy lifestyle is not a set of fixed rules meant to leave you feeling deprived of the occasional treat or left out of social events you enjoy because of inflexible dietary restrictions.

While everything you eat and drink matters for your health, finding your own healthy eating and physical activity style will ensure you’re able to maintain it for a lifetime. The key is to start with small changes you can enjoy, while leaving room for the occasional treat or a night out at a restaurant you love.

MyPlate sums this up perfectly with the following helpful tips for achieving the healthy lifestyle that best fits you.

Start with small changes: Instead of a diet overhaul, make small changes to what you eat and drink that will work for you now and in the future.

Take one day at a time: Sometimes things don’t go as planned, even with the best of intentions. If you miss one day or one milestone for your goal, don’t give up.

Be active your way: Pick activities you enjoy. If you focus on having fun or learning a new skill that interests you, you will be more likely to stick with it.

Team up: Find a friend with similar goals. Swap healthy recipes, and be active together. Staying on track is easier with support and a cheerleader.

Celebrate successes: Think of each change as a "win" as you build positive habits and find ways to reach your goals. Reward yourself—you’ve earned it.

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If you have any further questions, please contact Tara Dunker at 402-223-1384,, or visit the Gage County Extension website at


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