This is #1 in my series, Tips to Ignite/Re-ignite Living Your Passionate Life in 2019

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
~ Aristotle

Every year around this time, I wind up in discussions with my fellow dreamers about our desire to follow our dreams for greater health and vitality in the New Year. Often this involves getting into better shape, losing some weight, getting our blood sugar and/or cholesterol into a healthier range, fitting into our favorite outfits again, and feeling more energetic. This is usually followed by a qualifying statement by some that they will eat whatever they want or drink whatever they want up until January 1 or January 2. And it might even involve some binge-eating or avoidance of the gym during the week prior, when the calorie rich foods are all over the place tempting us and vacations or get-togethers take us from our normal routine. After that, on the first or second day of the year, the plan is to embark on the new diet plan. Some of my friends will follow the most recent fad diet or a brand new exercise routine. If you belong to a gym, you might notice that, during the first week of January, the gym is packed full with newly motivated fitness fanatics, many of whom you’ve never seen before no matter how long or how often you’ve been to your gym. In fact, it’s my least favorite time to head to the gym and I often try to find off-hour times to exercise, so that I can get to the weight machines that I like without too much hassle. And then, like clockwork, by the end of January, the gym empties out and I hear people talking about how they’ve given up on their diet plan because they found it to be incredibly difficult.

Here’s an idea. Why not start today with making healthier food choices and moving your body, no matter what day of the year you read this, whether it’s just before the New Year or well into 2019 — and you’ve already gone astray with your health goals? How about starting gradually and renewing your intention daily, even if you slip for a New Year’s dinner or brunch? Why not make a plan to go for a walk, take a yoga class, or go to the gym before your New Year’s celebration? You might also try to make meditation a part of the New Year’s celebration. This will help you to be more mindful in your food choices and, perhaps, inspire you to get up and move.

I’ve seen it again and again, healthier diets failing when we take the approach of gorging ourselves and then severely restricting ourselves based on a date on the calendar . The combination of sugar, salt, and fat is extremely addictive to body and mind. And the more unhealthy the foods, the harder it is to break the addiction and make a healthy change. When I had the opportunity to interview the nutrition specialist and best-selling author, Dr. Joel Fuhrman on my radio show, he told me, “The more unhealthy your diet is, the more addictive it becomes and the more difficulty you will have in even considering a different way.” So, making the choice to feast on calorie-rich/nutrition poor food, while intending to make sudden drastic changes on January 2, is likely to lead to failure. One approach that leads to greater success is to begin to add in high nutrient foods right now, before you attempt to eliminate the unhealthy ones. So, if you’re planning to eat a celebration meal on New Year’s Eve, for example, be sure to add a large green salad to it. This will naturally create the situation in which you’re too full to gorge on the addictive foods, leading you to eat less of those foods, and making it easier to begin the journey of eliminating the calorie-rich addictive foods. Check out my blog from 2016 in Huffington Post, Food for the Soul, for do-able tips about how to make some simple changes with powerful results.

Just remember, when we approach any goal, whether for better health or for some other dream for our life, as a sprint, it’s easy to burn out quickly and give up when life doesn’t cooperate and bring us what we want right away. Diets fail, exercise programs go off track, and we forget our dreams, falling into the same old ruts of our past behaviors. When we, instead, approach these goals as a marathon, looking to pace ourselves and continuing to get back on track when we’ve been knocked off, we’re more likely to achieve our goals successfully and with less stress.

Happy New Year! See you back here in a few days for more Tips to Ignite/Re-ignite Living Your Passionate Life in 2019.

In Peace & Joy,

Dr. Mara

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  • Dr. Mara Karpel

    Psychologist, Host of Radio show, “Dr. Mara Karpel & Your Golden Years,” Author, "The Passionate Life: Creating Vitality & Joy at Any Age."

    Dr. Mara Karpel has been a practicing Clinical Psychologist for over 27 years and is the author of the International Bestseller, "The Passionate Life: Creating Vitality & Joy at Any Age," a guide for all who want to live a more vital, joyful life! Dr. Mara also hosts the Blog Talk Radio show, “Dr. Mara Karpel & Your Golden Years,” which can be heard at and on Most recently, she has been named the Passionate Living Motivator for