Ask Yourself This Question For Long-Term Success with Dry January

This post is powered by the Downtown Miami YMCA

In a 2021 world, the tried-and-true New Year’s resolutions seem to hit a little different. As you reflect on the past 365 days and look to an uncertain start to 2021, there’s no better time to decide what you’re ready to leave behind and how you want to move into the New Year. While some people took the COVID-19 quarantine as an opportunity to better their health, the stress, loss, anxiety and grief that affected us all didn’t always lead to the same result.

So, where do you start?

In a world full of quick fixes and fad diets, Jessica Santiago, Downtown Miami YMCA Healthy Lifestyle Specialist & Trainer, is far too familiar with these conversations. In addition to being a group exercise instructor, personal trainer, and wellness coach, Jessica has over 15 years of experience in the food and beverage hospitality industry. One resolution she has seen time and time again? Dry January.

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Dry January dates back to January 2013, Alcohol Change UK kicked off their first campaign with 4,000 participants. Fast forward seven years later, 100,000 participants signed up and 4 million took part in January 2020. The intent behind the campaign was created with the best of intentions, urging people to abstain from alcohol for a month to reset after the holidays. Although the big question of the matter is “can a month alcohol-free really make a difference long-term?”

“You might notice better sleep, an increase of energy, more money in your pocket, the list goes on, but in 31 days you will not improve your overall health outcome,” Santiago says. “With the likes of fad diets, cleanses, and detoxes you can’t expect to figure out what works best for your body if you aren’t educating yourself first to a healthy, balanced, mindful lifestyle.”

“My challenge for you, instead of going from all to nothing in a Dry January challenge, look at your current lifestyle,” says Santiago. She encourages you to ask yourself questions such as, “Do I have a healthy relationship with alcohol, my body, with food, my work/home life balance? What can I do to improve it?”

Jessica recommends to start by creating SMART goals for the next 30/60/90 days and even as far as six months and one year goals. “Once you experience your first few wins, the longevity of your health should outweigh any instant gratification because you know where you started, how hard you worked to get there. Building a strong foundation for a healthy, balanced lifestyle takes time, more than the month ofJanuary.”

Wellness doesn’t have to end after 30 days. Limiting your potential is the first mistake we make when evaluating our goals and taking on new challenges. Rewrite the conversation, see how far it takes you.

Need help setting SMART goals? Every new member at the Downtown Miami YMCA receives a complimentary Healthy Living Orientation to assess your current body composition and movement patterns to help you create a personalized pathway to lasting change.

For more information, visit

Jessica Marcarelli is a dedicated health and fitness professional who is passionate about helping others make movement a part of life. Jessica is the Director of Corporate Health Initiatives at the Downtown Miami YMCA where she oversees the fitness program and teaches a variety of group fitness classes. She is active in the Miami fitness community where you can find her jumping into classes around town, checking out the latest STAY FIT 305 events, or planning ones of her own!

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