Start Your New Year Off Right with Healthy Habits

While a new year might not automatically mean a new version of yourself, it could be used to make daily improvements in your life to create a healthier, happier version of yourself. There’s always room for improvement, and so in honor of a new year and semester, here are some tips to be your best self, mind, body and soul. 

“Students are essentially intellectual athletes,” said SUNY New Paltz dietician Marianne Liakos. “Nutritional deficiency can cause memory problems and interfere with critical thinking, so it’s important to be aware of what you consume because everything is intertwined.” 

As for eating on campus, Liakos suggests to always “look around and get familiar with what’s being offered.” 

Liakos explained that it’s important to see the various options at the dining hall before automatically picking up every plate since you may eat more than you’re supposed to or won’t enjoy every plate you grab, contributing to food waste. What is crucial is to prepare a plate with food that you like that has nutritional value. 

“I always like to tell students that eating right should be about what you can have rather than what you can’t have,” Liakos said. 

Adding a simple serving of vegetables, drinking more water, using olive oil on your salad instead of dressing or looking for  symbols near food such as “L” for local produce or “V” for vegetarian can improve your diet.

Another simple way to keep track of your diet is through the Bite app. The app displays the college’s menu for the day at each eating hub, providing a nutrient breakdown, a caution for any allergies and displays vegan and vegetarian options. 

With the app, students could then essentially track what they are eating and take the appropriate steps to eat healthier from there. 

Whether gaining or losing weight, however, it’s important to note that a healthy diet is not enough. Exercise, in any form, can significantly enhance your mood, reduce stress and prevent you from getting sick. 

Second year early childhood education major, Isabel Amoedo feels that the gym takes a load off her back after a long day. 

“I go to the gym as much as I can because I feel great after a workout. After sitting in classrooms all day, it’s a good thing to stretch to get rid of stiffness and feel yourself become stronger,” Amoedo said. 

The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of cardio five days a week. Other forms of exercise such as weight training could form healthy joints and prevent injury. Liakos recommends working every major muscle group twice a week, as well as some flexibility training such as stretching and walking after a run. 

As mentioned, “everything is intertwined,” meaning you can’t be your best self if your mind is not in the best shape either. 

As students, it’s important to keep in mind that stress should not be chronic. If feelings of stress and anxiety seem to be constant, simple steps such as meditation and breathing exercises could prove helpful for relaxation. Listening to a calming playlist, or talking with friends in person are also ways to keep your mind clear, according to the SUNY New Paltz Health Index. 

The Psychological Counseling Center (PCC), which  provides preventative and clinical services to the New Paltz campus community is also available. In confidence, you may discuss any troubles with a counselor. 

You may contact PCC at 845-257-2920 and Liaknos at 845-257-3351 to make an appointment.