Once again another year has come and gone and in front of us is a blank slate. Again, we are free to make New Year's Resolutions that half of us will never follow through with. For the ninth year in a row, I had said I would finally get abs. I usually last a good week into January before I break and then occasionally try throughout the year. Looking down at my stomach now, I see the results of sugar addiction, late-night dates with carbs, and anxiety and stress-eating from college.

2018 was the year I got a personal trainer with the goal to actually get abs. Obviously, I didn't get abs, but I got something better: knowledge and understanding. We all put such pressure when the New Year comes around and throughout the year we are determined to get that "summer body" or get "hot." We put our focus on the outside instead of looking at the inside. No wonder we never actually achieve our fitness goals. We are too focused on looking a certain way to fit into the mold we have restricted us to rather than working towards a healthy lifestyle.

That should be the main goal: to feel good mentally and physically. You can work out a few times a week, with the mindset to "look hotter" and get a "bikini body" and hardly see a single change. You can also work out a few times a week, change your eating habits, and focus on developing a healthy lifestyle and see a dramatic change in your health on the inside and outside.

How does one change their lifestyle and become healthier? Here are a few tips, taken right from my personal trainer (who I now thank for making me do all those burpees at 6 a.m. in the morning).

1. Drink water.

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Shocking right? Drink water. What is this concept? I admit, it broke my coffee-addicted heart to do this, but it honestly helps. Ditch those sugary drinks and Starbucks coffee for water (it's free!). For every cup of coffee you drink, you should drink one cup of water.

I usually drink one (or two) cups of coffee in the morning, and then drink water for the rest of the day. If I am tempted to have a sugary drink then I usually go for tea or reduced calorie hot chocolate.

2. Change your coffee order. 

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I'm not saying you can't order a sugary latte ever again. Just don't do it every day. Those drinks are filled with more sugar than coffee and don't offer your body much in terms of nutrition. My trainer recommends drinking black coffee, with some honey mixed in and foam on top. This is great for an Americano as well!

While I am still trying to slowly reduce my sugar intake, I do splurge with my morning coffee and have black coffee with creamer. I say do what makes you happy.

If you are a latte addict: a honey latte with non-fat or almond milk is delicious and healthier than one of those mocha Frappuccinos.

3. Take time to exercise. 

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I know it may not be the best part of your day, but exercising is good for you. It not only helps you physically but mentally. When I was doing my training for the first half of 2018, my anxiety went down immensely! However, when I stopped and got too busy to work out the second part of 2018, I was a hot mess full of stress, anxiety, and tears.

Don't be afraid to go toward the weights either. I like weights better than cardio actually. Just pull up a YouTube video or go on Pinterest and follow what they say! I swear, nobody is looking at you. They are too busy worrying about themselves.

Alternate days between weights and cardio. Even take a class! Exercising doesn't have to be the worst thing ever. Even a simple 30-minute walk can make all the difference.

4. Eat more fruits and vegetables. 

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I never realized how much I lacked eating vegetables until I made a list of what I usually eat in a day and boy were the results surprising. I would go some days without a single veggie touching my mouth. If you don't like veggies as it is, look up some recipes and create some fantastic veggie dishes and you'll be craving them in no time.

5. Sleep, sleep and sleep.

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Sleep helps you lose weight, feel better mentally and physically, gives your brain a break, and is overall just good for you. I may be a night owl, but my goal each night is to fall asleep before midnight. Depending on when I have to wake up, I try to at least get seven hours of sleep.

6. Reduce your sugars.

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Sugar is literally addicting and may taste good at the moment, but after? Not so much. While you can't totally cut out the sugar cold-turkey, try to slowly reduce it. After a while, you will no longer miss it or crave it, and other foods such as fruit, will taste sugary and satisfy your needs.

7. Cut out fast-food.

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Obviously, I am going to get Chick-Fil-A and get their waffle fries. You don't have to swear-off fast food altogether. It's just important to limit the amount of fast-food you consume. There are also some healthy options if you can't avoid fast-food. At Chick-Fil-A, I will get the grilled nuggets with water. I sometimes splurge with the fries. At other burger joints, I will get a burger wrapped in lettuce instead of bread. The smallest little changes can make the biggest differences.

8. Don't look at the scale. 

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"Don't judge your health goals based on the scale. Judge based on how you fit in your clothes and feel in your body." Another personal trainer at the gym told me this and has changed the way I looked at my health. As long as my clothes don't get tighter, and I feel stronger and have energy throughout the day, then I am accomplishing my resolution to practice a healthier lifestyle.

Of course, everyone is different and what might work for me, may not for you. The most important part is your mindset. If you keep on putting your goal as changing your body, and not working towards feeling good and developing better habits, then nothing will change and you will go through the cycle over and over again. Make this 2019 the year that you strive to feel good on the inside. That's the most important part of you anyways.