With another turn of the calendar year comes the all-important plan for the 365 days ahead. If your health doesn’t already take precedence, it’s time to let it become your first priority. Without good health, you’ll find it difficult to achieve any of the other 2018 goals you’ve set to smash for yourself.

We tend to step to these goals by emotionally and mentally psyching ourselves up, which is great because frame of mind and perception of attainability are key to beginning any sort of personal development.

With that said, here are some recommended steps to a healthy new year and healthier you.

See a Doctor, Map Your Starting Point, and Commit

Start by getting full blood work done, so you know where your levels are. Maybe your cholesterol is a little too high and your Vitamin D too low. Use these results to calibrate your goals for the year.

Make note of what’s currently in your life that’s motivating you toward change. What are the habits that are not benefiting you? Do an awareness scan of your body and notice whether you feel even minor discomfort or tightness in areas like your neck, hips, or lower back.

How’s that yoga class you keep putting off? Motivation demands dedication, but starting slow is ideal to avoid overwhelming yourself right at the beginning. Integrate one new habit every few days, weaving it into your morphing routine. You’ll barely notice anything but improvements down the line.

Be Vigilant About Food and Eating Habits

Food intake management is such an individual practice based on personal preference. It’s why fad diets don’t work as a blanket solution, but having a one-on-one relationship with food that involves mindfulness does. 

I once had a naturopath for a roommate who said, “When you feel emotionally unwell, your food reflects it.” Comfort food merely offers emotional comfort, a short-term fix for a possibly longer term, unaddressed issue.

There’s never a bad time to replace refined and processed foods with fresh, seasonal produce. Eating seasonally means you help local farmers, and their produce is less likely to contain herbicides and pesticides.

Go With the Flow…of Water

There’s a reason many reputable sources stress drinking more water and fewer soft drinks and alcohol. You’re 70% water, not 70% bourbon and soda.

Without proper hydration, you’re simply not running at peak performance. Your body needs water to flush out toxins, maintain immunity, and metabolize. It also promotes mental focus and sharper motor skills, which you will heavily rely on day in and day out.

Obviously, you don’t have to just drink still water. Herbal tea and infused mineral water are more than acceptable alternatives. Add sparkling water instead of sugary soft drinks to your spirits if you need to unwind. Even water-rich fruits and vegetables will suffice, such as zucchini, watermelon, and celery, which are comprised of up to 95% water.

To Gym or Not to Gym

Whether you do your overhead lunges and squats at the gym or not, exercise is as important as drinking water, especially for those over 30 whose metabolism has begun to slow down. This is when the body begins its decline, and that decline doesn’t exactly happen at a snail’s pace.

Women aged 40 and over are also strongly advised to have a workout routine. Cardiovascular exercise and strength training in particular help stave off osteoporosis and general calcification that comes with aging. Even doing one hour of yoga, one day a week helps fight depression.

If you do start out your new regime by getting blood work done, talk to your doctor about putting together an exercise plan to go with your new food plan. Figure how many of what types of calories you need to burn, and which exercises will help best.

Lastly, be kind to yourself. You will be diligent, but you will definitely have lapses at the start, and that’s completely normal. You’re human. You got this far in life because you made mistakes and hopefully learned from at least some of them. If you do get sidetracked, great. Take that as an opportunity to step back, reassess your approach, refine your process, and keep working at your goal. Patience is nothing without endurance.