Happy New Year from University of Illinois Extension and Illinois Nutrition Edition! Welcome to 2017!

This is the time of year many gym memberships get purchased, inspired men and women make decisions to eat healthier, smokers set goals to stop smoking, along with other intentions.

In 2017, I encourage those of you with health and wellness goals to get REAL.

Reset your goals. It may be time to start from the beginning with your health and wellness desires. If you are wanting to lose 10 pounds, what are you doing to get yourself there? Many people would answer, "I will eat better and exercise more."

Okay, but how do you eat better and exercise more?

Using the goal above, someone might say "Well, I will walk outside (or at a local track when the weather is bad) on Tuesdays from 5:00-5:30pm and eat a slice of 100% whole-grain toast with peanut butter for breakfast rather than a donut."

Really, the goal is not about losing the weight. It is about the actions – start with small actions – you have to take to be healthier. The loss of weight happens as a result of doing something different than what you are doing now.

Evidence-based. Look for evidence that exists for your goals. Walking as a way of fitness has been shown in research to be beneficial to health. Whole-grain bread and peanut butter for breakfast is known to contain fiber and protein, which are digested slowly and help keep you full for a while, while a donut contains no fiber and a little protein that allows the donut to digest quickly and may leave you hungry shortly after.

UI Extension always presents evidenced-based information, not fad or trending information. Whatever you read, watch, or hear about health, food, fitness, and diet, evaluate that there is research to back-up the thought.

Activate Plan B and C and beyond. Some days in life are not easy. Maybe it was raining outside and the gym had a power outage and was not open for your Tuesday walk. Plan A is not going to happen. Does Plan B or C or D exist? Maybe Plan B is to do a walking DVD or internet walking video at home for 30 minutes on Tuesday instead. Or Plan C is to move the walk to Wednesday after the storm clears.

When a goal does not happen as planned, it is not a failure. Like other things in your life, you may have to reschedule or make sacrifices to get Plan B or C in motion.

Learn. We are all life-long learners. Health and wellness information changes with more research, so remain up-to-date. UI Extension can help you with that too. The more you plan and work at your goals, you will learn works for your lifestyle, budget, and plan for living – whether about food, fitness, mental health, spiritual health, and social health. Keep changing and growing and learning and being a healthier you this New Year and all-year long.

Today's post was written by Caitlin Huth. Caitlin Huth, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian and Nutrition & Wellness Educator serving DeWitt, Macon, and Piatt Counties. She teaches nutrition- and food-based lessons around heart health, food safety, diabetes, and others. In all classes, she encourages trying new foods, gaining confidence in healthy eating, and getting back into our kitchens.