Whether it's to lose weight, quit smoking or completely change your life, the time-honored tradition of making a New Year's resolution will have people looking to change something about themselves for the better starting at midnight tonight.
But in order to make sure you haven't given up on your resolution by Valentine's Day, award-winning author and speaker Willie Jolley said it's important to not make resolutions, but rather, set goals.
"People make these resolutions but they don't write them down, they just say them the first day of the new year and then by [Jan.] 15, they've just about forgotten and by the 30th, they're gone," said Jolley, currently a talk show host on Sirius XM radio and known as the "Comeback King" for helping Ford Motors avert the need to accept bailout dollars through his work with employees. "But when you set a goal, and you read that goal and you stay focused on that goal, things start to change in your life."
Mirror photos by Gary M. Baranec
Planet Fitness trainer Zeb Rineer works with Danielle Chaplin, 19, of Bellwood on an abdominal exercise.
To successfully change your life this year, Jolley says your resolutions or goals also have to be "SMART," an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. He added that you shouldn't let setbacks derail your goals completely, and rather decide if it's a setback "period" or a setback "comma."
"When you were learning to read and write, the teacher told you period meant end of the sentence, no more to be said, and comma meant pause, transition, more to come, more to the story," he said. "So when you have a setback, you have to ask yourself is this a setback period, end of sentence, no more to be said, or is it setback comma, because if you have a comma mind set, you'll say OK, this is not the end of the story and keep going."
Many people make fitness-related goals for the new year. Zeb Rineer, trainer for Planet Fitness in Altoona, said memberships do tend to flux after the holidays.
"But it's not a perfect world, " he said. "People want to come in as much as they can, but stuff like kids, work and all that gets in the way. [They have] good ambitions, but depending on how much time you have, that might cut down on it."
Rineer said one mistake many people make is setting their goals as a "big picture." Instead, he encourages people to break up their fitness ambitions into weekly, monthly and yearly goals to keep up their motivation.
"If you attack your yearly goal, that's like climbing an entire mountain," he said. "But little, weekly goals are easier to get."
A good weekly goal for fitness resolution holders is getting to the gym three or four times a week, which will contribute to a goal of safely losing up to 10 pounds a month, Rineer said.
Fitness goals don't always have to deal with the number on the scale. Feeling better, healthier and having more energy are all benefits of working out, Rineer said.
"A lot of times, when you're working out, there's a change in body composition, so you're not losing weight on the scale but you're feeling better, your clothes fit better and all that good stuff," he said. "That's the mistake people have, they think, 'Oh, well I'm not losing weight,' so they quit and give up."
Jaime Appleman, fitness director and aquatic supervisor at The Summit Tennis & Athletic Club in Altoona, said the fact that the facility offers a variety of different classes and other fitness activities may help people stay interested in keeping their weight goals.
"You don't see a whole lot of dying down," she said. "You see a lot of people staying on to do different things."
Appleman also encouraged her clients to not focus as much on the benefits of being fit that you can see from the outside.
"I try to make it more of an overall lifestyle change and about the way you feel," she said.
Watching others try to change their lifestyle and get rid of bad habits is something that Polly Walters, a respiratory technician and smoking cessation class teacher at Nason Hospital in Roaring Spring, has seen a lot of. But to successfully quite smoking, she said you have to have a plan.
"You have to have your own reasons for why you're going to quit," she said. "You have to have your own plan that will work for your lifestyle and your way of life."
The hospital used to offer smoking cessation classes in January, Walters said, but they are now only held once a year in October, due to lack of interest.
"I'm not sure what the whole problem is," Walters said. "Life is stressful enough, so that's one of the things [smokers] are going to keep doing."
But for anyone interested in kicking the habit, Walters said you should replace rituals that usually involve smoking with something else, like replacing coffee and a cigarette in the morning with drinking your coffee while watching the news. Also, put away the money you save from buying cigarettes to treat yourself on something like clothes or a nice dinner, Walters suggested.
"It's just a conscious effort to change that habit," she said. "Don't just wing it, you have to have a plan."
Walters said she thinks that gradually cutting back instead of quitting cold turkey is also a method that "makes more sense" to her. And while cravings and cave-ins can be hard to deal with, Walters said slip-ups shouldn't stop quitters from losing sight of the ultimate goal.
"I'm a firm believer that you may slip up and have one here or there, but you can get right back on track," she said.
No matter what your New Year's resolution may be, Jolley said it's important to write them down and put them somewhere that you will see them and be reminded every day. Once a month, Jolley also suggested trying to rewrite your goals, and even expand on them.
"You'll be amazed that you might even expand what you thought was possible," he said. "And your mind will expand to greater possibilities once you get past your self-limiting thoughts and beliefs."
Mirror Staff Writer Beth Ann Downey is at 946-7520