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Are you ready for some healthy changes?

It is that time of year when we all start to ask ourselves: What will my New Year’s resolution be this year?

Then we decide on a resolution that undoubtedly involves losing weight, exercising or something that will make our lives healthier. Forward four to six weeks down the road and most of those resolutions have gone by the wayside.

So, why not this year involve the entire family (regardless of age) in the decision-making process of what you all can do together as a family to make 2013 healthier, happier and put a smile on not only your faces but others?

The first step in this process is to make sure that everyone has input into this process. You have heard this before (from this column) that if you involve your kids and take their opinion and suggestions into account, then they are more likely to buy into what you are trying to do and/or change.

This can be as simple as sitting down as a family and just having everyone list ideas for what they would not necessarily want to change in the new year but start to do too. There are many things that families can do together to bring a healthier aspect into their home. For instance, deciding on what weekly dinners should be and then finding time to cook or prepare them together. My young kids are always asking to help make dinner and when they make it, they tend to eat more of it, especially when they are deciding what is going to be made.

The idea of sitting down to dinner as a family does not happen often enough and this simple change can do wonders for a family. It gives you time to sit, eat and talk, finding out how the day was for everyone and what is happening in their lives. Kids so often do not get this quiet and relaxed time with parents or family due to work obligations or other commitments, so try to build in two-three nights a week where the family actually all sits down to eat a healthier dinner prepared by adults and kids.

Other healthy changes that you can make as a family for 2013:

— Consuming more milk and water and limiting sugary juices and soda;

— Having more fruits and vegetables at meals and for snacks;

— Eating breakfast on a daily basis;

— Playing outside more (together as a family);

— Watching less TV;

— Getting more nighttime sleep.

These are just a few suggestions; you will be surprised what your family will come up with if you all sit down and work on this project together.

Another idea/suggestion is to start a family service project (together). This can be anything from volunteering at a soup kitchen, volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, or simply doing something for a neighbor or friend. Baking a batch of cookies and bringing them over to a neighbor will not only make you feel better, but I guarantee it will put a smile on their face. And I have personally witnessed too many times to count that once you do something nice for someone, they, in turn, will do something nice for someone else — the old adage of pass it on!

So, my wish for you all is a happy and healthy new year ... and a wish for you all to take a few minutes and think about how you can not only make your 2013 happy and healthy, but for others as well. Happy new year!

Dr. Kirsten Lupinski is an assistant professor at Albany State University in the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Department. She has a B.S. in Nutrition from the University of North Carolina, an M.S. in Health Education from the University of Kentucky and a doctorate in Education from the University of Cincinnati. She has worked in the health education field in various capacities (corporate health, community health, college health and wellness and university education) for more than 15 years. She and her husband have three young children (5-year-old twin sons and a 2-year-old daughter).