New Year, New Habits

How to Create Habits That Stick

A new year is a fresh start and a great time to focus on creating (or re-establishing) healthy habits! Use these tips for making your new habits stick.

Anchor Your New Habits

Much of our daily life is taken up by habits that we have formed over our lifetime. Habits can be almost automatic, meaning we do not even recognize that we are doing them. One of the more effective ways to add a new habit to your routine is to anchor it to an existing behavior you consistently do. For most of us brushing our teeth in the morning is a habit we established long ago, and something we rarely give much thought. The habit of brushing your teeth is anchored to the act of waking up in the morning: “Every day after I wake up, I brush my teeth.”

A habit anchor is a simple, yet powerful, tool to help new habits stick.

Example: Follow these three steps to anchor a new habit.

  • Make a list of existing habits that you perform every day around the same time. Waking up, going to bed, showering, getting dressed, eating lunch…these are all great examples of things most of us do daily.
  • Pick an anchor from your list of options that best corresponds with the little habit you want to add.
  • Write down your little habit as a statement along with your anchor:
    1. “After I turn on the coffee pot in the morning, I will drink an 8 oz glass of water.”
    2. “After I eat lunch, I will go on a 5-minute walk.”
    3. “After I buckle my seat belt, I will take three deep breaths.”
    4. “After I put on my pajamas, I will read 10 pages of my book.”

ARM Yourself for Success

Lack of motivation is one of the most cited barriers to change, this is especially true after the shine of a new year wears off. How do we keep ourselves motivated for weeks, months, and years after we decide to make a change? Contrary to popular believe, action precedes motivation. This means that starting with a small, simple act can lead to feelings of motivation, and ultimately inspire you to keep going.

ARM yourself for change by using the Action-Results-Motivation model. The trick to the ARM method for building habits is to make the initial action small. Make it so small that you have no excuse not to do it.

Starting with a small, consistent action is the key to building momentum, and ultimately, motivation.

Example: If you want to start walking 30 minutes a day, you can begin by creating a habit to take a 5-minute walk after lunch.

  • Action: Take a 5-minute walk after lunch.
  • Results: I notice that I feel more alert, energized, and ready for my afternoon. I also get a burst of pride when I cross it off as “complete” on my to-do list.
  • Motivation: Knowing how I will feel after my 5-minute walk motivates me to keep doing it daily and increase my walking time.

Before you know it, you have incorporated this small walking habit into your routine and are consistently extending your walks until you reach your goal of 30 minutes a day.

Lose the All or Nothing Thinking

When you engage in all or nothing thinking, you assess situations in extreme terms. You think you will either be a total success or a total failure. This is an inaccurate way of thinking because life is not black and white – it’s grey. It is far too easy to get stuck on the notion that if we can’t do something perfectly, it’s not worth doing. That is simply not true! We often find success when we embrace the squishiness that is the middle ground. If your car ran out of gas, would you refuse a partial gallon from an emergency gas can simply because it wouldn’t be enough to fill the entire tank? NO! The same idea applies to behavior change.

Consider all the ways you could work toward your goals, no matter how imperfect the strategies may seem. Something is always better than nothing. Take time to celebrate even the tiniest, most imperfect, success!

Example: Avoid all or nothing thinking by finding success in small ways.

  • Maybe you don’t have time for an hour walk…but you can take a 5-minute walk.
  • Maybe the only thing in the refrigerator for dinner is leftover pizza…but you can add some broccoli you found in the freezer on the side.
  • Maybe you lost your temper at your kids because you are stressed…but you can still apologize and practice some deep breaths together.

Goal Setting

Resolutions are easy to make but hard to follow through with. This is because most resolutions (I want to get healthy. I want to lose weight. I want to be more organized. I want to save more money.) are too vague and do not incorporate concrete actions. Effectively developed goals on the other hand, are specific, finite, and help you stay focused on your desired outcome.

  • You can set a goal for almost anything! Whether you are training for a race, trying to eat more vegetables, or saving for a big purchase, making your goals SMART sets you up for success!
  • Be purposeful in your goal setting. Choose a small number of objectives that are the most important to you. A goal should include a metric that lets you know you have accomplished it.
  • It is easier to stick to a new behavior with a supportive network. Accountability can be motivating and is critical for success. Tell friends, family, and co-workers about your goals and ask them for support.


Matters of the Heart

two hands holding a construction paper heart

By: Mimi Fetzer RD, LD, with The Idaho Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Stroke Prevention Program

February is a time for love, relationships, and matters of the heart. That includes the relationship we have with our heart health. The heart pumps blood to all parts of the body. Blood carries oxygen, nutrition, hormones, and removes waste. The best way to strengthen the relationship with our heart is to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

Tips for a Heart-Healthy Lifestyle:

Reduce sodium and saturated fat intake. Instead, enjoy nutritious foods.

The heart needs a combination of nutrients to function at its best. Consuming a variety of different fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, lean protein, and low-fat dairy is the best way to get these nutrients. Too much of certain nutrients, such as sodium and saturated fat, can place stress on the heart.

Examples of high sodium and saturated fatty foods include:

  • Pizza such as pepperoni with full fat cheese.
  • Frozen meals.
  • Processed meats such as bacon, sausage, lunch meats and hot dogs.
  • Snacks such as chips, jerky and shelf-stable cakes.
Quit smoking and vaping tobacco products.

Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease. It can damage the blood cells that transport essential nutrients and compromise the function and structure of the cardiovascular system­­­­­­­.1 Medical studies suggest cigarette and e-cigarette smoking result in abnormalities of blood flow to the heart.

For those who are ready to quit, there are resources on the Project Filter Website or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW. Project Filter has expert quit coaches and free patches, gum or lozenges to support people on their quit journey.

Prevent diabetes.

Having pre-diabetes or diabetes impacts how much glucose is in the bloodstream. Over time, high blood glucose levels can damage blood vessels causing the heart to work harder to pump blood throughout the body.2

To find out if you or a loved one is at risk for prediabetes, take the Prediabetes Risk Quiz. The results can inform conversations with your healthcare provider and encourage appropriate lifestyle changes. Diabetes Prevention Programs are offered throughout the state to decrease your risk for diabetes. This program is led by trained Lifestyle Coaches who guide a group of individuals through a series of interactive sessions. Each session features different techniques to help adopt a healthy lifestyle and prevent or delay diabetes.

Manage diabetes.

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, talk with your healthcare provider about diabetes management and participating in a Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support Program. This program is delivered by trained healthcare professionals who can discuss how nutrition, medication, and physical activity can help manage diabetes and result in a healthy heart.

Engage in consistent physical activity.

Regular physical activity strengthens the heart’s ability to pump blood throughout the body. 3 Physical activity can also help to manage tobacco cravings resulting in smoking cessation and reduce blood glucose levels.  Each week adults should exercise for 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) if it is moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) if it is vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.

Examples of moderate-intensity aerobic activity:

  • Fast paced walking
  • Vacuuming
  • Water aerobics
  • Softball or baseball

Examples of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity:

  • Hiking uphill
  • Running
  • Shoveling heavy snow
  • CrossFit

Remember to have a positive relationship with your heart to ensure healthy relationships with loved ones all year long!

1. Smoking and Your Heart. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Accessed January 15, 2020.
2. Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Stroke. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases. Accessed January 15, 2020.
3. Physical Activity and Your Heart. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Accessed January 15, 2020.

Get Up, Get Out, and Get Active!

By Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation

With the heat of summer well underway, it’s easy to give in to Netflix and the air conditioner. And while it’s good to have a day of rest, we like to encourage you to make the most of these long summer days by getting up, getting out, and getting active! And lucky for us, Idaho is famous for its outdoor recreation. Here are a few ideas to help keep your body in motion:


Whether you’re an avid biker or just getting back up on two wheels, there are so many fabulous trails and pathways across the state. From the tip of the panhandle to the southernmost points, there are mountain bike trails for all levels of bikers. The Idaho City Area Trail and Yurt System has an intricate array of forested mountain trails that help keep the summer heat at bay. Or check out some of the single-track trails at Priest Lake, Ponderosa, or Eagle Island! And if mountain biking isn’t your scene, then we would be remiss if we didn’t mention one of the longest continually paved trails in the US. Located in Northern Idaho, The Trail of the Coeur d’Alene’s is a 72-mile, fully paved trail that winds along rivers, lakes, and historic towns.
View more trail ideas.

Water Recreation

Sometimes the only way to beat the summer heat is a dip in one of Idaho’s many natural waterways. Boat, paddle, or swim your way around more than 2,000 lakes and over 100,000 miles of rivers. And you don’t have to be a pro to dive into this summer activity—affordable paddle-craft rentals are available at many state parks and vendors across the state. And more than just fun, swimming is a great workout! It uses the entire body as you move against the resistance of the water. Just be sure to bring a life jacket!

Disc Golf

With the increasing popularity of this sport, disc golf courses are popping up everywhere, and Idaho is no exception! And perhaps the best part about disc golf is it can be as rigorous or relaxing of an experience as you like. Many parks offer 9 or 18-hole courses where games can be played in the spirit of competition or simply as a way to enjoy the wildlife and scenery.
Find a course near you.


Few things in life make you feel as good as volunteering. And your Idaho State Parks would not be the same without the help from our incredible volunteers! From planting trees to hosting campgrounds to clearing pathways and assisting educational programs, volunteering in an Idaho State Park is a great way to get outside this summer and experience something new. Learn more about getting involved with an Idaho State Park this season.

Come share in the adventures with us this season! With hundreds of campsites, thousands of miles of trails for hiking, cycling, and motorbiking, and events going on nearly every day—there is no reason not to get out and experience Idaho. See you on the trails!

All photos courtesy of Idaho Parks and Recreation.

Mindful Moments

Mindfulness is paying full attention to what is going on in the present moment. It is a simple concept, but it is not always easy. Mindfulness may seem overwhelming and even a little bit “out there,” but it is okay to start small. Try adding mindful moments while completing mundane tasks in your life. Focus on being present while brushing your teeth, sitting in traffic, typing an email, or waiting in line. Pay close attention to the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feels of these everyday activities. Small, consistent acts of mindfulness add up to support a healthier, calmer brain.

  • Mindful Breathing: Take some deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose to a count of four, hold for one second, and then exhale through the mouth to a count of five. Repeat often.
  • Mindful Walking: Enjoy a stroll. As you walk, notice your breath and the sights and sounds around you. As thoughts and worries enter your mind, note them but then return to the present.
  • Mindful Eating: Sit and savor your food. Be aware of taste, textures, and flavors in each bite, and listen to your body when you are hungry and full.

Learn more about mindful breathing and practice mindfulness with this guided exercise.


Healthy Eating Basics

Personal insight from Pete Petersen, an Idaho Department of Health & Welfare employee who has maintained a 115 pound weight loss for nearly 7 years!

I was morbidly obese most of 30 years and obese most of my life.  Partly due to predisposition, I faced a number of severe health crises.  However, I lost over 115 lbs about 7 years ago, and have kept it off. 

Throughout my health journey I often heard people say, “It’s too expensive to eat healthy.” But is it?  What really constitutes eating healthy or “food security?”

According to the World Health Organization, there are now more people in the world who are malnourished due to being overweight than malnourished from being underweight.  How can that be?  If you were to eat two gallons of mac and cheese every day, and nothing else, you could be considered malnourished because you are not getting important vitamins and minerals from nutrient-dense foods like fruits and vegetables.  Before long you might even accumulate additional medical costs or lose work time.

Food security is not about getting enough food to eat, it is about getting enough of the essential nutrients and fiber your body and mind need to function well.  It is the foundation for health. The MyPlate graphic can help you choose combinations of food to get those essential nutrients.  It’s a pretty simple visual representation of a healthy, balanced diet and it doesn’t have to be expensive.

MyPlate is a reminder to find your healthy eating style.

Let’s start simple (my economical variation): if you include at least one serving of fruit, two servings of vegetables,  two servings of whole grains, one serving of dairy (or the nutritional equivalent) and one serving of protein every day, you will be doing much better than most Americans. 

For better health results, aim to eat a variety of plants.  While I am not vegetarian, I do not eat a lot of meat.  Most of my protein comes from plant based foods.  Beans and brown rice are a complete protein when paired together.  Quinoa is a complete protein by itself.  Brown rice and old fashioned rolled oats are great sources of whole grains.  They are easy and quick to prepare, and very inexpensive, especially in bulk.

I also avoid refined or simple carbohydrates and sugars as much as possible.  They are usually more expensive, more addictive, and detrimental to both physical and mental health.  On the other hand, complex carbohydrates, like oats, sweet potatoes, and brown rice, are an essential piece of our foundation for better health.

When I lost weight, I was familiar with the starvation diets that had been around for years.  I knew that would not work for me.  While I am not at all vegan, I love a quote by one who is: “Here’s the secret to weight loss: It’s all about crowding out, not cutting out.” Kathy Freston

As a last piece of humor, I’ll share something I recently read on social media: “I want to lose weight but don’t want to get caught up in one of those “eat right and exercise” scams.”

Alcohol Awareness Month

By: Catie Wiseman, Education Manager, Idaho State Liquor Division

Drinking too much alcohol increases people’s risk of injuries, violence, drowning, liver disease, and some types of cancer. The good news? We can all do our part to prevent alcohol misuse or abuse. This April, during Alcohol Awareness Month, the Idaho State Liquor Division encourages you to educate yourself and your loved ones about the dangers of drinking too much.

In 2017, there were 245 fatal crashes in Idaho1 and 24.7% of those were the result of drunk driving2. Over 5,450 people were arrested for driving under the influence with 48 of those people being under the age of 213. These numbers do not include arrests for drunkenness, domestic violence incidents where alcohol is present or other various social harms that are happening to our friends and family members throughout our community.

If you are drinking too much, you can improve your health by cutting back or quitting. Here are some strategies to help you cut back or stop drinking:

  • Limit your drinking to no more than 1 drink a day for women or 2 drinks a day for men.
  • Keep track of how much you drink.
  • Choose a day each week when you will not drink.
  • Don’t drink when you are upset.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you keep at home.
  • Avoid places where people drink a lot.
  • Make a list of reasons not to drink.

If you are concerned about someone else’s drinking and/or behavior when drinking, encourage your friend or family member to seek help. If you are in Idaho, the Department of Health and Welfare’s Idaho’s Careline 2-1-1 is a great first start. Anyone can call 2-1-1 or visit for alcohol and substance abuse resources.

Listed below are some other resources available to you at the local, state and federal levels:


1Idaho Transportation Department, Office of Highway Safety, 2017 Idaho Traffic Crashes Report
2Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility – 2017 State Facts
3Idaho Transportation Department, Office of Highway Safety, 2017 Idaho Traffic Crashes Report

Stay Well with Idaho Libraries

By: Allison Floyd, LiLI Librarian, Idaho Commission for Libraries Health may be wealth, but free is still everybody’s favorite price, right? Did you know there are several health resources freely available to all Idahoans on LiLI stands for Libraries Linking Idaho, and is a collection of electronic resources—mainly databases, but some eBooks as well—for a variety of information needs, including all things wellness-related! LiLI is brought to you by the Idaho Commission for Libraries, with additional support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Read on for an overview of some of the great health and wellness eBooks and databases available at
  • Alt HealthWatch: This database focuses on many perspectives of complementary, holistic, and integrated approaches to healthcare and wellness.
  • Consumer Health Complete: Comprehensive resources for consumer-oriented health content. Designed to support the needs of the patient and to foster an overall understanding of health-related topics. Covers all areas of health and wellness. Includes fact sheets and pamphlets, drug and herb information, alternative sources, and content from popular journals like Yoga Journal, Men’s Fitness, and Fit Pregnancy.
  • Gale Encyclopedia of Prescription Drugs: This online encyclopedia features entries on the most commonly prescribed drugs. It describes potential side effects, drug and food interactions, recommended dosages, and warnings and precautions.
  • Health Source: Consumer Edition: Contains content from consumer health magazines, current health-related pamphlets, and full-text health reference books.
  • Life and Career Skills Series: Health & Wellness: This eBook guides readers in making healthy choices about hygiene, diet, exercise, and medical care. It contains easy-to-understand information about healthcare coverage options and offers overviews of different types of available medical care, from general practitioners to alternative medicine and mental health providers.
  • MedicLatina: A collection of Spanish-language periodical content on health and wellness topics.
For these and other great health resources, visit

Summer Food Safety

These three simple tips for summer food safety apply all year round! However they are especially important to keep in mind during the summer months when warmer temperatures cause foodborne germs to flourish.

Use a Thermometer: A thermometer is the number one way to ensure that foods are cooked to the correct temperature to destroy germs that can cause food poisoning. The color of a food, like the inside of a hamburger, is not a reliable way to check that it has been cooked to the proper temperature.

  • Safe Minimum Internal Temperatures
    • Beef, Pork, Lamb, & Veal (steaks, roasts, and chops): 145 °F with a 3 minute rest time
    • Ground meats: 160 °F
    • Whole poultry, poultry breasts, & ground poultry: 165 °F

Keep ‘em Separated: …raw foods and cooked foods, that is! To prevent cross-contamination keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood separate from other foods in your refrigerator.  It is a best practice to keep raw foods on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator so juices do not drip on any ready-to-eat food or produce. Never reuse items that have come in contact with raw meat or poultry for cooked food.  Always use clean plates and utensils when serving foods once they’re cooked.

Avoid the Danger Zone: Most bacteria grow rapidly between 40 °F and 140 °F. This temperature range is known as the “Danger Zone.” If left in the Danger Zone bacteria in food can reach dangerous levels. That is why it is important to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Never let perishable foods sit out for more than two hours. In hot weather (above 90 °F), food should NEVER sit out for more than one hour.

More information and resources about summer food safety can be found at

“App” this!

Apps are everywhere. There’s an app for anything and everything from aging bodies to talking tom cats. Here’s a few health-related apps to help you make good health choices. Check them out… What’s your favorite health app?