How to set healthy goals for the new year

Dec 29, 2022, 5:30 PM | Updated: Feb 7, 2023, 12:53 pm

TOOELE, Utah — With the new year around the corner, setting healthy new year’s goals is top of mind for some people.

Marc Callister, a Tooele resident, said exercise and running are a big part of his life now. “For me, it’s become a therapeutic way to deal with the stresses of life,” he said. It wasn’t always something that he loved. “I wasn’t always a runner, I started doing this four years ago,” he said.

In 2019 he decided he wanted to make a change. He changed his diet and started exercising, part of his new year’s resolution. “I came up with a new day’s resolution, not what am I going to do this year, but what I am going to do today to lose weight,” he said.

By doing this, he lost 70 pounds and created a love for trail running. “It just became a passion. Every night after work I would go run. It was something that I would crave,” Callister said. Callister started small by walking each day and now he can run several miles at time.

This is something that Adam Ballenger at Intermountain’s Live Well Center recommended. “I would start with an economical goal, something that I can do easily, once I succeed at that then it will motivate me to do even more stuff,” Ballanger said.

Ballenger said changing your everyday mindset can help achieve your goal. “Instead of burning calories, invest them, instead of burning money invest. Every calorie you burn it helps,” He said.

Callister said changing his mindset has changed his life. “A few years ago, I couldcouldn’ta mile but in 2022, it was a big year for me and I ran my first marathon and first ultra-marathon,” Callister said.

Now, Callisters goal for 2023 is to run a 50 mile trail race, and rerun a marathon to get a better time. “There is nothing unique about this, it’s about what am I doing today to get to this goal,” he said.

Ballenger also said that when looking at health goals, it’s important to look at what changes you could make to improve your mental health.  He said even though those changes wont show up on a scale, it will improve your overall quality of life.


One in three Utahns won’t keep those goals past the end of January, experts said. Dr. Travis Mickelson is a child and adolescent psychiatrist with Intermountain Healthcare. He recommends following the acronym: S.M.A.R.T., first coined by the journal Management Review in 1981.  

  • Specific. Your resolution should be clear. “Rather than saying, ‘I want to start exercising,’ we would say, ‘I want to start exercising 20 minutes a day, three times a week,’” he said.  
  • Measurable. Logging progress in a journal or making notes on your phone can help.  
  • Achievable. Taking big steps too fast can leave you frustrated. “Start small, bite-sized pieces,” Mickelson said. “We’ll be more successful with that.”  
  • Relevance. Set goals that really matter to you. “One of the most powerful rewards for our brain is just a frequent reminder of why we’re doing this. And really providing us with that encouragement,” Mickelson said.  
  • Time-bound. Make a realistic timeline and plan for roadblocks along the way. 


There are also alternatives to the standard New Year’s resolution.

You can set up year-long goals for yourself. Creating year-long goals for yourself gives you the opportunity to fail and pick right back up. Compared to a New Year’s resolution, it’s a lot more forgiving. It also promotes behavioral change which is far more likely to stay with you in the long-term.

An easy way to stick with your goals is to create a plan that outlines exactly what and how you’ll achieve said goals. Whether it’s a daily, weekly, or monthly plan, you’ll be able to go back to it to track and analyze whether or not it’s working how it should be. If it’s not you can easily make adjustments that better align fit your lifestyle.

Create healthy habits like eating healthier, being more active, or becoming more focused on what you want. Creating healthy habits is paramount to promoting growth and change. By making small adjustments in your life, you give yourself the opportunity to welcome and adhere to those changes. Which in turn, can have a massive impact over the course of the year.

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How to set healthy goals for the new year