If there is one piece of advice that every person should receive when they are first starting out on their new fitness journey it should be this– Cut yourself some slack. It is not going to happen over night. It will not be easy to change old habits. Living a healthy lifestyle is not a crash diet or a juice cleanse. The meaning is in the word itself: LIFESTYLE.

You need to change multiple aspects throughout your day to day life. What often gets people off to the wrong start is trying to do it all at once. To make it easier to accomplish, we have broken down just twelve changes that you can make over the course of a single year. Pick one a month or pick a few a month. The key is to pick what works for YOU.

ONE: Focus on the positive: Focusing on what you don’t like about your body can actually make you more stressed and susceptible to illness. Find those things you love and put more emphasis on those.

TWO: Keep a food diary. Tracking your meals can make you more conscious about what you’re really eating and where you can make smarter choices.

Three: Cut out added sugar. High consumption of sugar causes weight gain and can increase risk of heart disease. If you’re having cravings—reach for some fruit!

Four: Learn to meal prep. It’s easier to eat clean when everything is already set to go in your fridge. Pick one day of the week and just crunch it all out. It is time consuming but worth it

Five: Start a new workout program. It is important to change up your routine to avoid a weight-loss or fitness plateau. YouTube has thousands of online videos you can do from the comfort of your own home. Continue to challenge your body and this will keep you in the best shape possible.

Six: DRINK MORE WATER. This one is important! You automatically wake up in the morning dehydrated– start your day off by drinking 8 oz. of water. More water keeps you more full, keeps your skin healthy and glowing, and also flushes out toxins. Don’t know where to start? Switch out one can of pop a day to a bottle of water.

Seven: Aim for 10,000 steps per day. Walking helps you burn extra calories and combats the risks that come with a sedentary job or lifestyle. If you don’t have a FitBit or formal pedometer there are a handful of FREE apps on your phone that can help you track your steps.

Eight: Go junk food free for as long as you can. Processed foods are loaded with sugar, salt, chemicals, and trans fats will lead you to a host of healthy issues ranging from obesity to diabetes to cardiovascular issues. Do your best to switch up that bagel for a banana and egg whites.

Nine: Add Meditation. As stated in the Spirituality section of this newsletter, meditation is a great way to relieve stress and reduce the impact of daily hassles and psychological issues up to 44 percent! Try to set aside 5-10 minutes a day.

Ten: Try substituting some of your favorite ingredients for the healthy option. They make sugar free coffee creamer that tastes almost the same. There are

Eleven: Train for a new race. Majority of you reading this participate in the Saturday walks. You are already a step ahead of the game. Take it one step further. If you can’t participate in upcoming Hot Chocolate Run or the Women Run the Cities, try signing up for one that you are able to do and want to do. Having a goal will give you motivation to push yourself past your boundaries.

Twelve: Get more sleep. Poor sleep can lead to weight gain, higher stress levels, and manipulate your metabolism. Besides– who doesn’t love a little more beauty sleep?

These twelve steps may seem overwhelming—but like stairs— it is important to take ONE STEP AT A TIME. You don’t need to overwhelm yourself by trying to tackle all twelve of these tips at once. Pick what one —and start there. Let Healthy be the new YOU.