Healthy Resolutions in 2024

How to reach and keep your New Year's Resolutions

'Tis the season for New Year's Resolutions, when couch potatoes dream of running the Marine Corps Marathon by October and mothers aim to shed 50 pounds in time for their daughter’s June wedding. From the latest phone app to the ideal sunscreen ingredients, health and well-being experts across Northern Virginia offer fresh perspectives for achieving realistic goals.

“When I work with clients we start with tiny steps and find a tracking system to chart their progress. Whether or not you use one of the latest apps or simply a pencil and a piece of paper, it’s important to find a system that works for you,” advises Health Coach and therapist Marianna Cardozo, MSW, Healthy Living Program Coordinator for Arlington County Dept. of Human Services. “When someone wants to lose weight or improve their health with exercise, but is currently doing nothing, rather than saying ‘I want to run a 5K’ I start by asking them to set a goal of a 10-minute walk each day.

One way to turn those 10 minutes of movement into 30 minutes or more is immersing yourself in nature, suggests personal trainer Gerald Mason.

“I often take my clients to Great Falls Park, Virginia. The views are breathtaking. When they’re taking in the waterfalls they sometimes forget that they are exercising. Whether you’re walking by yourself or with a group of friends, the natural surroundings are so stunning that improving your fitness won’t seem like a grueling activity at all.”

For those who want to improve their flexibility,Jennifer Disano, Executive Director, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), George Mason University suggests putting a spin on age old practice.

“Chair yoga is designed for people with mobility limitations. The class includes gentle yoga, stretching exercises, and breathing exercises.”

OLLI is one stop shop for those looking for looking to improve or maintain their wellbeing through social engagement and educational enrichment.

Nutritionist and personal chef Jen Smith of Chantilly emphasizes the importance of hydration for good health. “Start your day by adding a glass of warm lemon water to your morning routine and gradually increase your water intake throughout the day. Carry a water bottle and set reminders to sip regularly.”

Don't forget about sunscreen, even during winter, warns esthetician, Valentina Alvarez. “Look for sunscreens with broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide provide effective protection, and antioxidants like vitamins C and E can enhance their efficacy.”

“You have to be kind to yourself,” adds Cardozo. “When you have a setback you have to remember that life happens. You can get back on track but should honor and celebrate your health.