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Look to Extension to maintain 2013 healthy living goals

Date: 01/02/2013

With the New Year comes a fresh start for everyone. What do you want for yourself in 2013? Do you want more dark, leafy greens on your dinner plate? How about starting an exercise regimen or decreasing your reliance on a giant cup o' Joe to get you going in the morning?

Women lift light weights in order to increase bone density, strengthen muscles and improve balance.
Here, participants strengthen muscles, increase bone density and improve balance through the exercises recommended in the Strong Women, Strong Bones program offered through NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service. (Courtesy photo)

Staff at New Mexico State University's Otero County Cooperative Extension Service say the key to successfully creating and sticking with a New Year's resolution is to take small steps.

"People often create too big of goals for themselves," said Kelly Knight, home economist for Otero County. "The key is to make small, gradual changes. When a person makes realistic goals for themselves, they are more likely to keep them."

For instance, instead of doing an overhaul of your eating habits, make a goal to switch from whole milk to two percent milk. Instead of vowing to walk a mile every day, start by walking a couple blocks and then increase the distance over time.

April Cray Rhodes, nutrition educator, said it helps to incorporate regular activities into new goals and adapt activities to the changing seasons.

"If you have a dog you need to walk, use that time to fulfill an exercise goal. Or, if you need to go shopping at the mall, you can also reach a workout goal by walking the length of the mall," she said.

Both Knight and Cray Rhodes said people are more successful at keeping their New Year's resolutions if they recruit a buddy to help them.

NMSU Extension offices throughout the state offer a variety of free classes that help adults and children stay healthy and active. Extension offers a variety of cooking classes, like ICAN (Ideas for Cooking And Nutrition) classes and Kitchen Creations, which focuses on cooking for diabetics; Eating Smart and Being Active; and Strong Women, Strong Bones.

Each county Extension office has publications on healthy living and publications also are available at the NMSU website.

The most important thing is to have fun with your resolutions, Knight said.

"If the effort you put into meeting your goal is not fun, don't do it," she said. "Find an activity that interests you. Take a yoga or a zumba class. Try out new recipes that incorporate healthy ingredients. You will be successful at fulfilling your New Year's resolutions when you have fun with it."

For more information on Extension programs and/or to view publications, go to http://aces.nmsu.edu/.

Written by Audry Olmstead

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