New Year Rezolutions 2024

Tips to help make your New Year’s ‘Rezolutions’ successful

By Chris Jennings
January 5, 2024

As the new year begins, many people reflect on the last 12 months and consider what they could do better for the next 12. Setting goals for the new year goes back thousands of years; failing at those goals goes back just as far.

One of the many challenges with these resolutions is setting goals that could be more specific. Simply saying that you want to exercise more or that you want to eat better isn’t enough.

Chase Ward, a registered dietician with Choctaw Nation Food Distribution, says setting smaller, more realistic goals is much better. When it comes to eating better, Ward suggests starting with realistic goals, focusing on incorporating more fruits, veggies, and whole grains. “Gradual changes, like reducing added sugars and planning meals, can make it more sustainable. Focusing on making long-term lifestyle changes rather than looking for a quick fix is the key to a change that will last,” said Ward.

Reducing your soda intake is one good small goal that can lead to big changes. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), sugary drinks are a major source of health problems. Things like weight gain, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, tooth decay and gout can all be tied to sugary drinks.

Ward recommends keeping track of what you eat as one way to stay on top of your goals. “Using mobile apps like MyFitnessPal or keeping a simple food journal can be effective. It helps raise awareness of eating habits and promotes mindful choices. If you know in your mind that you will have to track and own up to the food choices you make, you are much more likely to decide on better options,” Ward said.

One of the ways Ward says people set themselves up for failure is believing in quick fixes. “Quick fixes often involve extreme restrictions, leading to rebound effects. Gradual, long-term approaches are more effective.” Ward said.

Another misconception is the need for extreme food restrictions to be successful. Extreme restrictions are unsustainable and risk nutrient deficiencies. Ward says, “A balanced approach with variety in moderation is more maintainable. Sustainable changes and a balanced approach are key.”

The Nation is here to help you achieve your goals in many ways. The various programs include health clinics with nutritional education, counseling, and community wellness initiatives in the Wellness Centers to support healthier lifestyles. The food distribution program, next step initiative, and WIC are also available for tribal members.

Another thing you can do to kick-start your health goals is visit one of the 16 Wellness Centers in the Choctaw Nation. Chase Henson, fitness center director for the Choctaw Nation, says, “If they’re interested in making a lifestyle change for the better, we’re here to assist in their journey.”

The Choctaw Nation Wellness Centers are open to all federally recognized CDIB card holders, their spouses and children up to age 26. Choctaw Nation associates, along with their spouses and children up to age 26, firefighters, law enforcement and EMT, and their spouse and children up to age 26. Both active and retired military are also eligible regardless of tribal status. The Durant and Hugo Wellness Centers also have a 55 and older program open to the public.

When committing to a lifestyle change, Henson says it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider first. “Some of our members are on medications, and with drastic weight loss and change in their activity levels, some of those things can change.”

Henson says they’ve seen members make drastic changes in themselves. They’ve had several people lose over 100 pounds; people whose doctors recommend surgery, but they were able to make a lifestyle change that negated that; and people who may have relied on a medication their whole life not needing it anymore because of their healthier lifestyle.

While this can all be done on your own, it’s easier with the right help. “We recommend before taking that leap of faith into their fitness journey to make sure you have the right core around you that can just guide you accurately through your health journey,” said Henson.

Henson also says they understand that some people don’t like going to the gym. “We understand how hard that is and how much anxiety comes into just walking through the Wellness Center doors. But we’re here to assist them and walk them through that journey and help them wherever we can,” he said.

One of the reasons for this anxiety is people worry that they don’t know what to do or that they’ll hurt themselves working out. You can request a personal trainer the first time you go to a Wellness Center. Any staff member can help with the basics, but a personal trainer can help you set attainable goals and provide specific exercises to meet those goals.

Henson also recommends some small things you can do on your own that are often underrated. “I don’t think people understand how important it is to get proper rest and recovery and something as simple as taking in enough water in the day. Those are two of the simplest things you can do today,” Henson said.

Ward also has some suggestions for simple things you can do to kick-start your health. Start with reducing added sugars and ultra-processed foods. Eating sugary snacks leads to rapid blood sugar spikes, followed by crashes, which can contribute to cravings and overeating.

“Ultra-processed foods often contain additives, preservatives, high salt levels and unhealthy fats. These foods are typically high in calories but low in quality nutrients. Cutting down on sugary snacks and opting for whole, minimally processed options can make a significant difference,” said Ward.

“Instead, snack on fresh fruits, veggies with hummus, Greek yogurt with berries, or a handful of nuts. Choosing whole, nutrient-dense options keeps you satisfied between meals,” Ward added.

Many of these simple tips are overlooked because they’re not drastic and don’t have instant effects. Healthy lifestyle changes take time; often, it’s the first simple step that can change a life.

You can take it a little farther and take a few more steps to go into a Wellness Center to sign up for their annual New Year, New Me Challenge. The 12-week fat loss challenge is designed to help you safely achieve your weight loss goals.

Participants in the challenge can earn points for every pound of fat mass loss, for every percentage of body fat loss, for every pound of weight loss and for every pound of lean muscle gained. At the end of the challenge, winners will receive fitness-related prizes.

“Remember, individual needs vary. Consulting with a registered dietitian or healthcare professional can provide personalized guidance based on specific health goals and preferences,” said Ward.

Health resolutions aren’t the only difference you can try to make. One good resolution for many Biskinik readers may be to learn more about the Choctaw language. There are lessons available online and community classes available across the state.

If you’ve always wanted to finish your education, there’s no better time than now. The Choctaw Nation Adult Education Program was designed to improve educational and employment opportunities for Native Americans who have not completed high school. High school equivalency (HSE) classes are available at community centers for any CDIB cardholder who is 16 years old and not enrolled in school. Members who live outside the reservation can take advantage of online classes to get their HSE.

If one of your resolutions is to get a better job, the Career Development department can help. They can offer career guidance and assessment testing to help you find a job suited to your talents, financial assistance for quality training and employment services to help you find that job. For more information, visit

Veterans can give back to the community by volunteering for the Choctaw Nation Color Guard.

If you have a loftier goal of giving back, the Choctaw Nation Adoption and Foster Care program is looking to recruit foster care resource homes for Choctaw children. Homes that provide a safe, stable and nurturing environment that keeps the Choctaw heritage at the forefront can greatly impact a child’s life.