Keeping the New Year’s Resolution


Students should start the new year with a resolution to live a healthier lifestyle by managing their diet. (EMMA DIMARCO/THE OBSERVER)


“The key part to reaching a resolution—whether it’s weight loss or something specific, such as running a marathon—is for it to be something you absolutely desire and is achievable.” These are the words of Fordham University dietitian, Melanie Simeone, R.D., C.D.N. According to a 2017 poll conducted by the Statistic Brain Research Institute, 41 percent of Americans usually set a New Year’s resolution. Of this pool of resolution-makers, 32.4 percent reported a weight-related resolution. Fulfilling these resolutions can be problematic for students who may be occupied with their academics, in addition to a job or internship. This leaves little time for managing one’s eating habits and maintaining a consistent exercise schedule. As a consequence, these New Year’s resolutions tend to fail only a few weeks into the year.

For Fordham students, there have been quite a few obstacles for not being able to maintain healthy-eating resolutions throughout the year. One of these is the amount of healthy options on campus. Aramark’s national campaign, called “Healthy for Life,” focuses on spreading awareness regarding the importance of eating healthy. The menus created take into consideration the need for healthy options, and include many fresh fruits and vegetables. Simeone, in her role as University Dietitian and a proponent of this program, regularly hosts events at both the Lincoln Center and Rose Hill campuses. She stated, “I emphasize in my role on campus trying to reiterate to students the need to educate and spread awareness about healthy eating.”

Another reason often cited for broken resolutions is the lack of time. Students can look to utilize the McMahon Gym or even use the stairs instead of the elevator in order to burn calories on a daily basis. Walking with fellow peers and classmates will further facilitate this by socializing on-the-go. Other students may not know where to start. This is where Simeone’s expertise and free service available to Fordham students becomes helpful. Students can schedule appointments by contacting the health center to work with a professional nutritional counselor and address individual concerns they may have regarding how to best achieve their healthy-eating goals.

It’s important for students to set S.M.A.R.T. goals for themselves. This acronym stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. It maximizes one’s ability to reach a healthy goals. A specific goal helps guide students towards staying on track with meeting particular ambitions. “Regarding weight loss, a blanket statement such as wanting to lose weight is much more difficult to achieve than saying I have a dress I want to wear for this wedding,” Simeone said. The latter can help students set goals in increments in order to see different stages of progress. This will further motivate students and provide a level of confidence to continue reaching their healthy-eating goals. Simeone added that students shouldn’t make such blanket statements because “[they] will feel overwhelmed by the long-term goal.”

With weight loss, it’s important to realize that numbers shouldn’t be the sole source of progress. Simeone pointed out that one’s weight can fluctuate up to five pounds in a day for a variety of reasons. Keeping track of one’s caloric intake is a better approach to have. By taking into account the number of calories one eats for breakfast, lunch and dinner, it will become easier to track one’s eating and recognize what types of food to cut back on. For these particular food restrictions, it’s helpful to remember that certain indulgences every once in a while won’t hurt in the long run. “Food restriction creates food interest and can be toxic to one’s mindset when reaching a goal,” Simeone stated. By placing a limitation on certain food options, there is an even greater desire to then enjoy these particular foods.

Regarding snacks, it’s recommended to incorporate a combination of protein- and carbohydrate-rich foods. Such snacks should, however, be kept within a range of 150–250 calories, depending on the person’s gender and physical activity. It is helpful to seek nutritional counseling in this case for a more in-depth and personal assessment. Simeone emphasized this, saying, “If I can meet with [students] and get a feel for what they’re eating for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I can provide some parameters for [them] to work with.”

This raises the question of whether the student who isn’t overweight and is within a proper body mass index (BMI) should still then decide to establish better eating habits. It is fundamental for students to think long-term by recognizing that vital organs rely on healthy-eating. Certain foods can help prevent future diagnoses of cancer, diabetes or heart disease.

It’s never too late for students to begin a track towards healthy-eating and wellness. Simeone explained, “For a lot of students, being at college is really when you develop your eating habits.” Apart from whatever stage of dieting a student is in, Simeone is “here to help guide students through the process.”