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As our calendars have changed from December to January, there’s always a bit of a thrill in the promise of a new year that’s full of potential. The New Year is a chance to start fresh and say goodbye to any of the frustrations the previous year held — a perfect opportunity to make resolutions that will help strengthen one’s spirit, mind and body.

However, many of us find our resolutions thrown out along with the holiday decorations. It’s no wonder — starting the New Year by making sweeping cuts to our diets and declarations that we’ll hit the gym seven days a week doesn’t exactly set us up for success! But by reframing resolutions and breaking them down into smaller, easy-to-sustain goals you’ll see big benefits in the long run.

As a leading community service organization here in Mason City and North Iowa, we see how getting involved in the community and making lifestyle changes can change someone’s life for the better.

Move more

It’s important for children to get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day (30 minutes for adults). Incorporate physical activity into your daily routines and spend more time walking – park in the farthest parking spot - to improve your health and well-being.

Swap a soda a day

It may be difficult but cutting pop can do wonders for your body. If you can’t cut it entirely, resolve to swap one soda a day for a large glass of water instead. Once you’ve been able to swap one out, see if you can cut soda entirely.

Schedule family time

With work, school, and activities, family time may seem like an impossible ask, but see if your family can have a screen-free night with no phones, video games, etc. Instead, use that time to play a board game, play outside or visit with family and friends.

Volunteer your time

Giving back and supporting neighbors can benefit everyone involved. Not only is it a personally rewarding experience to help others in need, but it’s also a way to meet new people or discover an interest. Find an opportunity in your community, such as reading to children at the library, distributing food at a local food bank, or helping at the Y.

Put extras to use

Do you have extra canned goods or clothes that could benefit others in need? Clean out your pantry, closet or attic and donate extra items to homeless shelters or community outreach programs.

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Heath Hupke is the Associate Executive Director at the Mason City Family YMCA. Heath lives in Mason City with his wife.

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