New Goals for the New Year

We do it to ourselves every year.

New Year's Resolutions.

"This year, I'm going to lose 25 pounds."

"This year, I'm only going to eat healthy food. No junk food, and definitely no sweets."

"This year, I'm not staying up past 10 p.m."

"This year, I'm cutting out the sodas and only drinking water."

The problem is, “new year, new me” isn’t really how it works. A new year feels like a fresh start, but realistically, we are still the same person we were at 11:59 on December 31 when the clock strikes midnight. We still have all the same habits, preferences, and time and financial constraints that we’ve always had.

Should we aim to take better care of ourselves? Absolutely! But, setting goals can be much more effective than setting resolutions. Here’s why, according to Lita Chatham, a Licensed Dietitian with the Alabama Department of Public Health's Nutrition and Physical Activity program:

  • Resolutions lead to black and white thinking, such as: "If I don't stick to this perfectly, I'm failing, so what's the point in trying?"
  • The perfectionism and rigidity of resolutions leads many to believe that if they mess up, they have to wait until next year to start over. With goals, it's easier to understand that perfection isn't the goal, and that there's no need for a formal stop/start when it comes to making healthy choices.
  • Resolutions often fail because we take on too much at one time, or try to make changes that are too drastic. It's not reasonable to think you can quit drinking coffee completely on January 1 if, on December 31, you're a three-cup-a-day coffee drinker. It's much more effective to set small, manageable goals, like reducing your coffee intake to two cups per day or switching to decaf. These types of goals can be built on over time.
  • When we set unrealistic goals for ourselves and fail, it often makes us feel bad or even ashamed, which can lead to more unhealthy behaviors. It's important to have compassion for ourselves, and to feel like slipping and then trying again is a perfectly normal, acceptable way to go about working toward our goals.

For more information on the differences between goals and resolutions, please visit the National Eating Disorders Association

It's time to change the way we approach change. Instead of setting massive, all-or-nothing resolutions, let’s set smaller, achievable goals that, when taken together, lead us to the results we're looking for.


The 100 Alabama Miles Challenge is a statewide program designed to inspire Alabamians to engage in healthy activities while exploring our beautiful state. Participants are challenged to log 100 miles each year by walking, running, biking, hiking, swimming, paddling, riding, or rolling through Alabama's parks, nature preserves, and rivers. It only takes two miles a week to reach your goal! Learn more at 100 Alabama Miles Challenge.


  • The Have A Plant Movement provides recipes, snack hacks, meal ideas, and more to help you develop healthier eating habits. Learn more at Fruits and Veggies.
  • MyPlate illustrates ways to achieve the proper balance of fruits, grains, veggies, protein, and dairy at mealtime. Check out the strategies available at MyPlate.
  • Scale Back Alabama is available as a self-guided program for individuals and groups who want to set and track health and wellness goals at their own pace. In addition to recipes and health tips, you can find blog posts full of information from experts across the state. 


You may think that not getting enough sleep is just going to make you feel tired, but it's been linked to chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and depression. Lack of sleep can also lead to vehicle crashes and mistakes at work that can result in injury, disability, or even death. Visit the CDC to get the basics on sleep, sleep disorders, and more.


Quitting smoking can add years to your life. The Alabama Tobacco Quitline offers free information, referrals, and counseling to Alabama residents. Those who are medically eligible may also receive up to eight weeks of nicotine patches to assist in quitting. Call 1-800-784-8669, text "quit" to 1-205-900-2550, or visit the Alabama Tobacco Quitline website for more information or to enroll. You can also visit Alabama You Choose on Facebook for information on the dangers of tobacco and vaping.