MARQUETTE -For many people, Jan. 1 marks not only a new year, but a new way of looking at their life - or their health.
In the weeks surrounding New Year's Day, discussions and the pages of daily planners are dominated with the words "New Year's resolution."
Most of those resolutions, however, fail within two months, according to Grace Derocha, a registered dietician and a health coach with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan.
Dustin Wirtanen of Ishpeming lifts weights at the Negaunee YMCA facility recently. Improved physical fitness and weight reduction are among typical resolutions set — and forgotten — in the new year. (Journal file photo by Johanna Boyle)
Derocha said people often think of a new year as a chance for a new and healthy start.
"I think that's great, but I always want them to make very realistic goals," she said. "I call them smart goals. They need to be very specific goals that are measurable, but ones you can change."
The key to crafting a resolution you can stick to is making one that fits your life.
It's always difficult to plan a diet or exercise routine around work and social commitments, Derocha said, so it's best to outline a basic long-term plan and to stick to it.
She said an example would be making a commitment to exercise for 20 or 30 minutes three days each week immediately following work.
From there, you can slowly increase your exercise time to fit your schedule.
For those setting New Year's fitness resolutions, Derocha said it is important to keep things in persepctive. Normal weight loss, at the absolute most, she said, should be two pounds per week. It is often less.
"You see people make extreme goals. They feel like once the new year hits, they're all in," she said. "But think about it. You didn't gain all that weight in a month.
"The first issue (people have) is always that their goal is way too high and they haven't thought it out."
It helps to keep a record of your healthy eating and workout routines in order to inspire yourself.
Even if people take their workout routines in stride and set reasonable expectations, they can still hit a wall when it comes to rewarding themselves, Derocha said.
She added it's important to realize that rewards need not be food-based.
"I always tell people, when they want to give themselves a reward for doing well, to think of things that don't involve food," she said.
Such a reward can take the shape of new clothing, books or a day off from the routine.
"I want people to be fair to themselves and realistic about it," she said. "In the end, you want something that is not defined as a New Year's resolution, but as just a healthy lifestyle."
Kyle Whitney can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.