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Feb 15 2024

Blog: New Year, New Health

It’s resolution time. Here’s how to make—and keep—health a priority through 2024 and beyond. 


It’s that time again—the time when we seize the opportunity of a new year to make change, to be better, or at least to tell ourselves that we will. 

And getting healthier is frequently among the top resolutions for change. 

How exactly to start can be confusing and staying committed to lasting change is where honorable intent often veers off course. 

Israel Nieto is the ideal guy to help. He’s a family nurse practitioner with Regional Health Systems, Marine Corps veteran, and fitness enthusiast. He knows how to distill the conversation on health. 

“The most important investment in life is your health,” said Nieto, based at Regional Health Systems’ East Chicago Care Center. “Your health will determine your quality of life. By investing in it, you’re giving yourself the best chance to enjoy a long, active, and fulfilling life. By not investing in it, you may very well become a liability to yourself, those who care about you and those who depend on you.” 

One of the best, early investments you can make is obtaining primary care. 

Nieto likened it to planning a long road trip. 

“Would you just load up the car and drive thousands of miles, or would you take some preventative measures—checking the tire pressure, your fluids, your parts, making sure you have enough gas in the tank?” he said. “It’s the same with our bodies when we’re on the long road trip of life. Preventative measures like vaccines, screenings and lab work help us avoid catastrophic health conditions down the road.” 

More water, more movement 

When it comes to making a commitment to improving one’s health, Nieto suggested starting with simple, small changes: 

  • Schedule an annual visit with a primary care provider. 
  • Look to eat more fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean meat, and low-fat dairy products.  
  • Avoid processed foods.  
  • Substitute water for sugar or alcohol-infused drinks. 
  • Make sure to get at least seven hours of sleep every night and a half-hour of physical activity five days a week also are important. 

“We need to think about all the things we put our bodies through—wear and tear on the outside but also the inside,” Nieto said. “If we pay attention to the little details, we’re giving ourselves a great chance of avoiding larger issues that can get us in trouble after a while.” 

To make sure you stay on track when the resolve starts to wane, Nieto has a few suggestions: view educational health videos daily. Be conscious of what you feed your body and mind. Find a mentor—maybe even a personal trainer—and a group of people on the same path as you so you can hold each other accountable. Reward yourself for progress.  

Establish primary care for yourself 

Regional Health Systems’ primary care covers a broad range through four core services: family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, and senior care. Our approach is patient-centered care that focuses on education, preventative health care, and coordination with specialists. 

Call 219-769-4005 or visit Regional Health Systems’ primary care website for more information. 

“We’re a diverse staff that coordinates like a well-oiled machine,” Nieto said, “Everybody’s heart is in it with the goal of making high-quality care as seamless as possible for the patient.” 

An important part of that approach is assessing barriers patients may have—those could include a lack of transportation, absence of health insurance or the need for a clearer understanding of medications—then working together to ease those challenges. 

“We’ll help and then follow up to make sure the patient has what they need,” Nieto said. “That kind of mindset is just amazing.” 

In the end, he said, it comes down to prioritizing your health.  

“There’s a huge difference between being motivated and being disciplined, being disciplined is fully committing to results,” Nieto said. “Motivation fades. The mindset of commitment is stronger and more persistent and gives us the best chance to achieve the results we desire.”