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Raquel Garzon is a new extension faculty member at New Mexico State University. She has an impressive background in nutrition and wellness, and has tips to promote healthy living into the new year. (NMSU Photo by Carlos Trujillo)

New NMSU Extension Specialist offers Tips on Adopting Healthy Habits

By now, most people have already given up on their New Year’s resolutions to lose weight or exercise more. But adopting healthy habits can be done at any time of year. It just takes a healthy mindset, time and patience, said Raquel Garzon, New Mexico State University’s new nutrition and wellness extension specialist in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

Garzon comes to NMSU from Florida, where she worked as a nutritionist, trainer and keynote speaker. She is the president and founder of Revitalize Project, a company that provides wellness programs to corporations and community organizations. She started at NMSU in early January and has already fallen in love with New Mexico’s weather and mountain scenery.

“I think this is a better fit for me,” said Garzon, who earned her doctor of health science degree with a concentration in Global Health from Nova Southeastern University. “I still have a lot to learn about the state and the people, but I already feel there’s a need here for nutrition and wellness education.”

Esther Devall, head of the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences in the College of ACES, said Garzon’s experience will help strengthen nutrition and wellness outreach throughout the state.

“We are excited to have Dr. Garzon join our faculty in Extension Family and Consumer Sciences,” Devall said. “She brings strong experience in working with large corporations in the U.S. and abroad on nutrition and wellness issues. Her expertise in using social media should help us communicate practical, research-based information about nutrition and physical activity to a larger audience. She is enthusiastic about making a difference in the lives of New Mexicans, and has gotten off to a strong start in forming collaborations with our county agents.”

One idea Garzon emphasizes is that there is no quick fix for weight loss. She said that because of today’s technology, which provides users with most things with a phone swipe or website, most people are becoming wired for immediate fulfillment.

“It’s hard for people to stick with healthy habits, but it’s an investment,” Garzon said. “You can’t lose five pounds in one night. You have to have the mindset of healthy behaviors that affect you inside and outside. There are good things happening in your body that you can’t see right away when you adopt a healthy lifestyle.”

Garzon said social media has also led many people to adopt unhealthy or unsuccessful habits in hopes of losing weight.

“You can’t go on Instagram and follow Kim Kardashian’s diet, or take pills because Dr. Oz says it’s OK,” Garzon said. “You want to make sure what you’re doing is safe and sustainable. We spend billions of dollars on stuff that hasn’t been medically proven.”

So what does work? Eating balanced meals made up of whole grains, proteins, fruits, vegetables and dairy; eating small portions; engaging in challenging, intensive physical activity; and getting enough sleep, Garzon said.

Garzon said taking a holistic approach to your health will also help you become successful in losing weight.

“Stress causes changes that causes you to store fat and leads you to bad behaviors, like binge eating junk food or drinking too much,” Garzon said. “It’s important to practice mindfulness and meditation.”

Also, think about how you define your life and your reasons for becoming healthy, Garzon said. Those reasons should be long-term goals, such as living a long, full life or becoming a better version of yourself.

“It can’t be short-lived. It can’t be because you want to look better in your bikini by summer,” Garzon said.

Garzon also suggests wearing activity trackers that monitor your physical activity and sleep, and keeping a food diary to monitor what you’ve eaten and your mood.

“I encourage people to experiment and talk to people who have been successful. Find out habits that will work for you,” Garzon said.

Author:  Adriana M. Chavez – NMSU

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