New year with new resolutions

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In the few weeks after New Year’s Day, the trainers at 84 Fitness Center see a lot of new faces come through the gym’s doors. With new enthusiasm, a new outlook on life and a desire to lose weight, the newcomers eagerly sign up for gym memberships and hope to make their New Year’s resolutions come true. Unfortunately, not many of them do.

“We definitely see an increase,” 84 Fitness trainer Pete Valentino said. “A couple of days into February and then it starts dying. We hate to see people give up. They’re all gung ho for the first couple weeks and then start slacking off.”

Every December, millions of people across the globe sit down and think about ways they can improve both themselves and their lives in the upcoming year. Whatever kind of resolution they make, some mental health professionals think it stems from their constant desire to change themselves.

“People always want to improve themselves,” Washington County Mental Health therapist Pauline Amaisemeier said, “but can’t get out of the same habits.”

Dr. Michael Crabtree, a Washington County psychologist and professor at Washington & Jefferson College, shared similar views with Amaisemeier. People regularly present themselves with a “want to be different” and be “better than what they are,” he said.

“I think it’s Jan. 1 that gets people’s attention,” he added. “When you sit back and look at that, it’s a symbolic nature of starting over again. Monday mornings are like that, or an anniversary date or birthday. (Jan. 1) is just one we all share.”

Crabtree has a few suggestions for those who hope to follow through on their resolutions this year.

“First thing, you have to be really committed and want to make a change,” he said. “Sometimes people think these resolutions come because they have strong wills. Instead, it’s putting a habit into place. People have this magical idea (about) internal fortitude, but it’s really how you commit to a plan.”

The resolution should also be well-defined and specific. According to Crabtree, saying you just want to lose weight is too vague. Instead, he suggests setting a more well-defined goal, like losing a pound a week.

“We need to have a specific goal,” he said. Besides setting a well-defined resolution, people should also have a plan on how to carry out that goal. For example, those who hope to lose weight, could say that they will reduce their calorie intake at each meal. Or, he continued, you can exercise for a half-hour after every meal.

Paul Tripoli, a counselor in Washington County, said people should always have an action plan when they make their New Year’s resolutions. “(They) just make some sort of nebulous vow, to quit something or lose something,” he said. “Without an action plan, they fail.”

Once a plan is put into place, Crabtree reminds people they should also have a way to measure the outcome of the resolution. If you’re not stepping on the scale at regular intervals, he said, you’re not sure whether or not if you’re making progress toward you goal.

“(You) have to find something that gives you a measurable goal and track that,” he said.

Even though some people do not follow through with their New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, 84 Fitness’ Valentino said there are some people who do complete their goals. “One girl,” he recalled, “I don’t know how much she’s lost. She’s changed her body dramatically because of Cross Fit and being honest with herself.”

In other words? It’s possible to make that New Year’s resolution come true. Start small, stay focused and find someone to hold you accountable.

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