12 steps to get fit for 2012

A hiker and her dog going up Claremont Canyon fire trail. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

By Susan Helmrich

Last year, around this time I wrote an article about New Year’s resolutions and exercise. So, how did you do?

The holiday season is upon us once again, and it is time to reflect on the past year and look forward to the new. The new year is a time to make resolutions, if you are so inclined, which is merely another way of setting goals for yourself for the coming year. How are you doing with your health and wellness? Do you have goals that you would like to accomplish? Does the whole process feel impossible and overwhelming to you? It doesn’t have to be.

Here are 12 of the best health and wellness changes you can make in the New Year:

1. Get a pedometer and work towards logging 10,000 steps each day.
2. Keep a journal and write it down – what you eat and how much you exercise.
3. Get 8 hours of sleep.
4. Reduce your intake of processed food and limit salt, sugar and fat
in your diet.
5. Read Michael Pollan’s book Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual.
6. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water – stay away from high-sugar soft drinks, sodas — as well as drinks like Starbucks venti Java Chip Frappuccino which has 620 calories.
7.  Set S.M.A.R.T goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-dependent.
8. Find activities that you love and recruit a friend to do them with you.
9. Snack smart – fruits, vegetables and nuts rather than chips, candy and cookies.
10. Turn off your inner critic and negative thoughts, and focus on your strengths and successes.
11. Visualize yourself where you want to be — a strong mental image provides motivation.
12. Be grateful. This is the one factor most highly correlated with happiness.

Susan Helmrich is a health and wellness coach and the owner of Health and Wellness Matters. She swims 4,000 yards every morning at 6 am.

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  • Bruce M

    Gmaps pedometer is a free online tool that is helpful in measuring how far you walked. It’s a bit tricky to learn, but once you do it’s a good tool. http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/

  • Meliflaw

    Pedometers are an effective tool for some of us. I got a fairly cheap one at REI that keeps track of steps-per-day for a week, and includes a watch. It’s an effective little prod; you find yourself wanting to walk another few blocks, or to walk on your errands instead of driving, just to reach that goal.

  • Anonymous

    Not sure it does steps, but runkeeper’s a great free iPhone app which measures speed, distance, and altitude.



  • guest

    I’ve never found a pedometer that I could calibrate to even approximate how far I walk, they either register twice the steps or hardly any at all and I used a range from freebies to expensive ones. There are a number of free and not free apps for cell phones that use the cell phone’s GPS to track your walk, run or ride. I’ve been using the free version of MayMyRide and it really helps to inspire me to go out and walk or ride my bike. I like seeing the calendar that shows how I’ve done more than the previous week or less and therefore nudges me out the door. And if you like to brag to your friends you can have it link to your facebook or twitter, etc.

  • Meliflaw

    I seldom carry a cell phone, but I do keep an Omron (about $20, give or take, at REI) in my jeans pocket; where you wear/keep a pedometer seems to make the difference in its accuracy.

  • Bruce M

    For Android phones, there is a free app from Google called My Tracks