With 2011 now in full swing, many residents are attempting to maintain their resolutions to diet and exercise.
To assist in making those resolutions successful, Clay County Public Health Nurse Kim Hyatt provided a few tips.
"When starting a new exercise regimen, it is suggested to visit a physician who can help outline the best plan for each individual's specific needs," Hyatt said. "But other than that, it is always important to start light and work your way up to more rigorous activities."
Hyatt added it is necessary to always remember to stretch before doing any exercise to ensure the body's muscles are properly warmed up, as well as drinking plenty of water to maintain hydration.
"It is also helpful to use the buddy system and work out with someone so you won't feel you are doing it on your own," she said. "Plus, by having someone to exercise with, it increases the possibility of reaching your goals because you can keep each other motivated."
From the perspective of dieting, Hyatt suggested to also take the "start light" approach.
"In order to successfully diet, don't jump all the way in and cut everything out at once," she said. "Ease your way into the diet in small increments. For example, if you drink three sodas a day, cut back to two a day for a couple weeks, then down to one. This is a good approach for any part of your diet you are trying to cut back on or take completely out of your diet."
To help compensate for removing something out of a diet, Hyatt suggested making substitutions to healthier items.
"Instead of soda, replace it with an extra glass of juice or water, and if you are trying to cut back on potato chips, whole wheat or multi-grain crackers make a good replacement item," she said.
For those still choosing to eliminate an unhealthy portion of their diet, Hyatt said it is a good idea to give yourself a "free day" once a week or so to help in the process.
"There's nothing wrong with rewarding yourself in the first couple months of a diet by taking a day off to enjoy the foods you love," she said. "It is another way of easing the transition process instead of restraining yourself for weeks and later breaking the diet once and for all."
Hyatt added it is important not to get discouraged if a diet or exercise plan is not having immediate results.
"Things like this take time," she said. "Exercise and a healthier diet are not overnight solutions, but are important staples of staying healthy over time."