Experts offer tips, sympathy for those trying to make a change with New Year's resolutions
by Madasyn Czebiniak
Dec 31, 2013 | 2475 views |  0 comments | 54 54 recommendations | email to a friend | print
According to the results of an interactive Harris poll conducted in December of 2013, weight loss, exercising, and quitting smoking were among the top resolutions for this new year.

But for some in Alabama, where both obesity and smoking rates are high, achieving these resolutions may be difficult.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 33 percent of adults in Alabama reported themselves as obese in 2012. The adult obesity rate in 2012 in Calhoun County was 34 percent, according to statistics from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the smoking prevalence in Alabama adults was 24.3 percent in 2012, 3.1 percent higher than the national average. The prevalence of adults who smoked in Calhoun County in 2012 was 27 percent, according to statistics from the foundation.

Even with those numbers, there are local experts who can help county residents achieve their goals for the new year, such as Coretta Grant, a Tobacco Prevention and Control Coordinator for the Alabama Department of Public Health, and Michael White, a personal trainer at the Anniston Family Fitness Center.

When asked why such a high number of people seem to want to quit smoking for their resolution in the new year, Grant said she thinks it’s because they want to make a change.

“It’s all about change and wanting to be new again,” she said.

White had similar thoughts when asked why losing weight always seems to be on people’s resolution lists.

“One of their main New Year’s resolutions is to change. One thing they want to change is definitely their health,” he said.

But making a goal is only as good as sticking to it. White said in the years he has worked as a trainer, he has noticed that some who say they want to exercise more stop doing so.

“If I sell 50 memberships in January, I probably will say that 30 percent will maintain throughout,” he said.

Tom Buzan, the owner of Anniston Family Fitness, said by phone Tuesday that about 25 percent of the people who sign up for memberships in January won’t continue.

“I think they lose interest and it’s hard to stay motivated,” Buzan said. “It’s a challenge to keep going. People lose their desire.”

Grant said that the reason many smokers don’t stick with the New Year’s goal of quitting is that nicotine is so addictive.

“It takes anywhere from five to seven quit attempts before somebody actually quits for good,” Grant said. “Every year it’s a new thing.”

For those serious about quitting, one of the things the health department offers is the Quit Now telephone line. Callers get free assessments about where they are in their smoking habits and can even opt to have free nicotine replacement therapy patches sent to them.

For those not interested in the quitline, Grant offered other suggestions such as drinking a lot of water, eating hard candy and using the buddy system.

“If you do it on the buddy system that helps because you’ve got somebody there encouraging you,” she said.

White said motivation is the big thing when it comes to sticking to a fitness plan. He offers things such as personalized fitness plans and fitness evaluations, things that he said will teach gym members exactly how to reach their goals.

“We want to teach them how to get in shape. We want to educate them,” he said.

White, who used to work at a gym in Mobile, said he noticed the people who continued to exercise were the ones who were seeing results.

“The ones that kept coming were the ones that were seeing results and those are the ones that stick with their plan,” he said. “The ones that don’t come for certain reasons, if that gets into a habit, then that’s when they will eventually stop.”

White said Tuesday that he did not know the motives behind people not continuing with their fitness goals.

Multiple studies on New Year’s resolutions by John Norcross, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of Scranton, show that the most difficult factors people deal with when sticking to their resolutions are motivation and persistence.

In order to have success with resolutions, Norcross suggests, people should set realistic, attainable goals, track their progress and remember that meaningful change takes time.

Staff writer Madasyn Czebiniak: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @MCzebiniak_Star.
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