How to Make 2019 Your Healthiest Year Yet

Happy New Year, everyone!

If your holiday season was anything like ours, you spent the last few weeks hanging out with family and friends and indulging in all your favorite treats. You may notice that your work pants are fitting a little tighter this week (or maybe that’s just us!). Whether you’re into resolutions or not, the start of the new year is a great time to focus on setting goals for ourselves. What better area to focus on than our overall health and fitness?

Lucky for us, the DePaul family is pretty big and pretty talented, so it wasn’t hard to find an “alumni expert” to give us some advice and tips on how to reach your 2019 fitness and nutrition goals. Below,  personal trainer and DePaul alumnus, Michael Padua Jr. (EDU ’06), shares the key tips he gives his clients.

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“As we all know, fitness and nutrition goals are not short-term and don’t stop. They should be life-long accomplishments filled with rewards for changing a bad habit into a healthy, positive habit. So, when planning your fitness new year’s resolution, plan on enjoying the journey and never allow it to feel like a punishment. Approach your new year’s resolution with a strong plan and a positive attitude, and give yourself abundant  opportunities to achieve your goals and improve your life.

Don’t put it off. Book a vacation right now!

Throw the cart before the horse right now and book your next vacation. That’s right: A personal trainer is telling you to pick a destination, pull out your calendar, look four to six months in advance, block out those dates at work and get excited that you already have your vacation planned. Once that’s done, get to work. When I’m training, many clients shutterstock_247816603.jpgwho already have a vacation already lined up work harder on their fitness goals prior to their vacation. Why?  Who wouldn’t want to look better in a bathing suit, feel stronger on a hike or have more energy for site seeing?! Plus, think of all the photo opportunities.

Example: A couple years ago, my wife and I vacationed to Peru with another couple to hike Machu Picchu and drink Pisco Sours. We planned this trip in early January, and once we booked it, all four of us started working on our goals to be able to hike for two days straight and sip their famous Pisco Sour cocktails. You see, the vacation helped us plan our year of fitness so that we could get the most out of our trip.

So, don’t feel guilty or tell yourself the time isn’t right, book your vacation now!

Reward: Check it off your bucket list. You just went on your dream vacation and felt amazing along the way.

Don’t wait. Sign up for your next challenge!

Another great way to keep your fitness in check and reach your new year’s resolution is to sign up as soon as possible for a fun 5k run, mud run, obstacle run, half-marathon, marathon, triathlon, walk-a-thon and/or stair climb. Today, there are so many shutterstock_1012660819social, one-day events that not only challenge you but are also super fun. If you’re not in shape or ready for an event right now, no problem! Sign up anyway. It’s just like booking a vacation to set your sights on a goal. Before you know it, you’ll be taking the steps necessary to get yourself ready.

These fun runs are more like checkpoints to make sure that you’re working on your overall health and fitness goals rather than goals themselves. Signing up for an event now will make you more accountable for staying in shape prior to the event.

Pro Tip: I love making these events super social. I do a handful of events every year with clients, friends and family. It keeps me motivated and I always meet new people. If you’ve never done an event, or if you would like to run with a group at one of these events, feel free to check out my website and sign up for my newsletter (  I’m always adding events that I’ll be participating in on my newsletter, and you are more then welcome to join me and the community at any of these events.

Reward:  You crossed the finish line, you made new friends and you made up some ground on that resolution!

Join a fitness community

Finding and joining an amazing fitness community is a great way to help keep your attitude positive, your goals fresh and your new year’s resolution in check. Joining a group fitness class at a health club, small boxing gym in the neighborhood, and/or a localshutterstock_595715885.jpg run or bike club is a great way to help you stay accountable. A big plus is the life-long friendships that you’ll gain with like-minded people that are focusing on similar goals to yours.

Pro Tip: I have been teaching the same early morning boot camp out in the western suburbs of Chicago for about 12 years. They are an amazing group and we started with a goal to workout and challenge each other before heading to work. At the time, we didn’t know that the majority of us would still be working out together 12 years later, going out to dinner, going to Blackhawks games and celebrating birthdays, graduations and even weddings together. The community and friendships are strong and supportive. We’re there for each other in the gym pushing each other to be better while enjoying laughs and friendship outside of the gym.

Going to the gym, putting on headphones, selecting music and putting in the grind on the treadmill or weights is my passion. I love to work out—it gives me a great release from my day-to-day. What also motivates me is not letting down the several fitness communities I am a part of. To me, these communities are like family. They challenge me, they motivate me and they keep me accountable. Knowing this and knowing that I belong to great communities that motivate me, I tend to challenge myself more within my personal workouts so I don’t let the community down.

Reward: Staying accountable while creating life-long friendships with like-minded people.

Knowledge is Power

A great way to help keep your new year’s resolution on track is to learn more about living a fit and healthy lifestyle. I’m always recommending audiobooks and other forms of education to my clients that will help them reach their goals. Let’s face it: We live in the information age, and it is so easy to learn about any topic on the fly. Use some downtime and learn. I am a big fan of audiobooks and podcasts because all you have to do is listen. Instead of listening to music while driving or sitting on the train, I’ll listen to an audiobook.

Pro Tip: There are so many good audiobooks out there. As a personal trainer who helps people lay out their goals, I always recommend a good self-development book first, followed by a fitness or nutrition book. Why? Self-development books are a great tool to help organize and prioritize goals. Once we are organized, it is so much easier to work toward goals without distraction.

Reward:  Learn something new while improving your healthy lifestyle.mikerightblue

Remember, fitness and nutrition goals are not short-term, and they should always be dynamic and developing along the journey. They’ll be challenging at times, so it’s important to make them fun, develop friendships that will support you and never stop learning along the way.

Have fun and stay fit!”

Mike Padua Jr.



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