The beginning of a new year is a time when many of us believe in starting fresh. A new year means new opportunities, new memories to make, and new goals to accomplish.

Whether we want to build a new career, improve relationships, or optimize our health, this is the time of year when many of us try to initiate a positive change in our lives.

One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to create a healthier version of ourselves through diet and exercise. Some might choose to make this their New Year’s resolution due to metabolic changes as age progresses, the overindulgence of those irresistible holiday sweets, or simply a desire to improve eating habits.

January is the month gym memberships are purchased with an aim to exercise more, and the newest diets are being tried out to help lose those extra pounds. In January, the motivation is present and we are convinced our health journey for the New Year will stick.

So why do so many New Year’s resolutions last only until February? Why does the frequency of gym visits begin to decline and the diet begin to slip?

In a society where comparing ourselves to others is nearly impossible to ignore, our self worth can feel jeopardized when our health goals diminish.

When trying to become healthier, no matter what the health goal may be, the most important part to understand is that this is a lifestyle change. This requires patience, hard work, determination and, most importantly, support.

Making lifestyle changes is not a quick fix but requires a long-term solution. With help, encouragement, and a better understanding of nutrition, it is much easier to accomplish the goals you have set for yourself and, better yet, maintain them.

Getting involved in group fitness classes with friends or family, seeing a dietitian for proper education and counseling, using a personal trainer for continuous encouragement, and signing up for cooking classes to learn new skills in the kitchen are all excellent steps to better long-term health.

There is an abundance of support systems available to help you reach your health goal for 2019. I encourage anyone with a desire to improve their physical and-or mental health to take this month as an opportunity to challenge yourself and reach out for support to achieve a happier and healthier year to come.

Lauren Lenk, RD, LDN is a registered dietitian with Hope Performance Systems.