From shedding holiday pounds to saving more money, New Year’s Resolutions remain popular.
While many may fall by the wayside soon after being declared, the holiday tradition of trying to better ourselves seems to persevere.
“It’s human nature to set goals for ourselves,” said Michele Melton, Forsyth County Extension Agent. “And this is a popular time of year for it.”
The lull following the hectic holiday period is a good time for reflection, said Todd Burkhalter, a financial adviser.
“You’ve made it through the holidays, and you’re not yet being pulled in a million directions like you will be later in the spring,” he said.
Some religious leaders believe Christmas can be a reminder of transformation, leading to resolutions.
“The entire Christian faith, as opposed to other religions, is all about transformation,” said David Coombs, pastor of North Forsyth United Methodist Church. “We accept Christ into our lives and we are completely transformed.
“When you take on a New Year’s resolution, you want to be changed in some way. The difference is when you become a Christian, your entire life is changed, not just one small part such as with resolutions.”
Some of the most common resolutions seem to be those that involve losing weight or in other ways improving overall health.
“After the New Year there’s always a huge rush of people thinking about losing weight and getting healthy,” said Paul Grimm, head personal trainer at Anytime Fitness on Freedom Parkway.
Most gyms see their highest numbers of new members for the year in January, due largely to people’s resolutions.
Aman Kakkar, a cardiologist at Northside Hospital-Forsyth, said while losing weight historically has been the primary health-centered resolution, this year he’s seeing more people who want to drop their cigarette habit.
“I just saw a patient who said he’s not picking up another cigarette starting Jan. 1,” Kakkar said. “This year, I’m definitely seeing more of a trend toward smoking cessation.”
Melton, who offers several classes throughout the year to help people learn about nutrition, said the New Year holiday and the beginning of a new school year are typically the times when people think more about healthy eating.
“There’s a mental aspect of needing a starting line, and both of those times of year are times of new beginnings,” she said.
But Melton said the Forsyth County Extension Office can provide help year round.
“If folks are interested in learning more about good nutrition, I’m happy to help with information anytime,” she said. “We have a lot of resources here.”
Similarly, Alicia Glassford, a registered dietitian at Northside-Forsyth, spends much of her time helping diabetics learn about making good decisions.
“After the holidays, our business always goes up a lot,” she said.
Some of Glassford’s tips to clients include incorporating more movement in their daily lives, preparing more meals at home, dropping calorie-filled beverages, and keeping a food journal.
“Research shows that those who write down everything they eat lose about 7 percent more weight than those who don’t,” Glassford said.
Besides health, Burkhalter said many people think about improving their financial lives at this time of year.
“Not only are people making resolutions, but now is also a good time to take advantage of open enrollments for different financial programs,” he said.
Burkhalter said many people want to learn how to save more of their money.
“We always encourage people to set up programs that are automatic so they don’t have to think about it,” he said. “For example, using an employee’s retirement plan that automatically deducts money from their check, or an automatic deduction from their checking account to their savings account.”
It seems a big part of keeping New Year’s resolutions rests in being realistic when setting them.
“You’re probably not going to go from being someone who doesn’t save anything to saving half your income in one year,” Burkhalter said.
Added Melton: “It’s important to have goals that are measurable and attainable. The resolution should just be the starting line to kick things into gear, and you don’t want to set yourself up for failure.”
Kakkar, the physician, and Glassford, the dietitian, both recommend small steps when it comes to resolutions that involve health.
“Don’t aim too high,” Kakkar said. “We all want to be overachievers all the time, but our aims should be modest so we don’t give up.”
For example, Glassford said losing just 5 to 10 percent of one’s body weight can create big health benefits.
“So if someone weighs 200 pounds, just losing 10 to 20 pounds can lowered their blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels,” she said.
And achieving even small goals can be mentally satisfying, Kakkar said.
“Don’t go for the gold, just settle for the bronze.”