I recently heard a joke from a friend that his New Year's Resolution is the same as the previous year's, but this time he's actually going to follow it.

That made me think about whether I've followed my resolutions from the beginning of 2017, and I realized that the key to keeping up with resolutions is baby steps. That might be a little obvious, but dreaming about new exercise plans, relationship goals, and all the exciting potential life changes can get a little out of hand. You end up overwhelmed by the third week and disappointment sets in.

I decided that I needed to focus on only a few realistic goals that I could follow through to the end of the year, and here's what happened.

Around the beginning of 2017, I was just settling in 2nd semester Freshman year of college and I did a little survey of my life. Grades were ok, friendships were being formed, but...my health was not exactly ideal. In my dorm minifridge, I had managed to stuff a jumbo box of frozen corndogs, some burritos, two huge gallons of soda, and some takeout from the night before.

On top of that, my daily exercise consisted of biking around campus, and I had about four to five hours of sleep per night. Maybe this sounds like what most college students go through, but I noticed the toll it took on my energy during the day.

After I managed to drag myself out of bed, I spent most of the day nodding off in class and most of my nights wide awake –– I don't think that's very healthy at all. Therefore, I decided to get out of this vicious cycle through completing small tasks, like throwing away my soda and drinking more water.

I couldn't believe it. It actually worked. Water, plain and simple, was a panacea that cleared up my skin, woke me up in the morning, help me sleep at night, and overall made me feel so much better. I had invested in a sports bottle so I could sip my water throughout the day, and before long it became a habit. I know drinking water and carrying around a bottle is probably a thing that almost everyone does, but I didn't, and I remember thinking, "Is this what everyone feels like every day? Wow, I've been missing out."

High on my accomplishment with water, it was time for another baby step, and I chose exercise. Sports used to be something I did in high school, but once I got to college I couldn't make time for it. Going to the gym was an option, but I gave that up too because there was no excitement in utilizing my limited knowledge of gym equipment.

What if I was required to exercise? Yes, I filled a space in my schedule with a two-unit dance class and that was most of my weekly workout. Dance is fun, social, educational, and two hours flies by. In addition to that I try to fit in some pilates, but dance is a great way to use all the muscles in the body.

Now that I was exercising and drinking water, I was more energized during the day because I slept better during the night. Even though the quality of sleep had improved, quantity still needed to increase. This step I saved for last because it's the hardest for me.

My nightly routine consisted of staring at my phone screen until I eventually passed out due to sheer exhaustion. To change that habit I would have to put my phone away after an appropriate amount of time which meant I would lie awake with boredom until I fell asleep. This was more of a self-control problem, but after I did it one night, I saw the results and gained the confidence to continue to put my phone away.

Of course, these baby steps were not followed 100% in 2017, but it was consistent and continues to impact my life today. My healthier foundation improved everything I did –– from feeling better about myself to even studying smarter –– and all I did was just drink more water, take a class, and put down my phone.