It's almost one week into 2004, and already some New Year's resolutions have been broken. But local experts say the key to keeping those resolutions is to start slowly and don't give up.
"It depends on the person, but most people need to go to a personal trainer two or three times a week to stay on task," said Dan Hayden, co-owner of Hayden's International Gymnastics Academy in Martinez. "For a person doing a program on their own, it's important that they start out slowly and not to give up."
Hayden said he sees about a 10 percent increase in new members at the beginning of the year, when people set out to become physically fit or lose weight. That number tapers off in May for the summer, but picks back up in August.
"A lot of times we see parents giving their children gymnastics lessons for Christmas," he said. "Our new membership at the beginning of the year is often children and parents who want to begin the year on a good start and be more physical."
Medical College of Georgia Hospital psychologist Bernard Davidson says it is imperative that people set realistic goals and seriously prepare.
"Start taking baby steps to reach your goals," he said. Other key tips are to expect some setbacks and to share the experience with someone else.
"If you plan to stop smoking, find a buddy who will quit with you and begin planning strategies," Davidson said. "A buddy will also serve to keep you on track toward your goals."
Still, some people don't even make resolutions, or they pick some other time besides the beginning of a new year to slim the bulge at their waist or to stop smoking.
"I don't even set a resolution," said Paul Griffin of Martinez. "They're a waste of time, and most people don't stick to them anyway."
If you aren't a naysayer, remember that reaching any goal is better than reaching no goal.
"The most important thing is just get there," Hayden said. "That's half the battle - just getting there."
The following are tips on how to make a weight loss plan work:
Make a commitment. Lose weight because you want to, not just to please someone else. It takes internal motivation to stick with the plan.
Be focused. Don't set yourself up for failure by trying to improve your lifestyle if you're distracted by other major problems. It takes mental and physical energy to change habits, so timing is critical.
Accept that it takes time. Aim to lose no more than 1-2 pounds a week. Even 1/2 pound per week is good.
Learn to enjoy more healthful foods. Better eating habits are the key to long-term weight loss, not liquid meals, diet pills and special combinations of food.
It also is a good idea to talk to your doctor before beginning any weight-loss or exercise program, and a registered dietitian to help you assess your nutritional needs. It's important to get the proper nutrition while trying to lose the extra pounds.
Source: Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla.
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