New Year's resolutions require step-by-step approach

Iowa fitness center owner focuses on accountability

Fitness resolutions are among the most commonly made. Here, instructor Myriam Charleston, left, trains Andrea Benedetti in the Miami Herald’s on-site fitness center. (Marsha Halper/Miami Herald/MCT/file photo)

CLINTON — The new year is bringing a new attempt at a New Year’s resolution.

Most people want to lose weight/stay fit, stay/get healthy, save money, etc. But another side to the annual new-year, new-you question, is following through with the resolution.

Chip Staebell, of Anytime Fitness in Clinton, has found a way to motivate his gym members. Last year — like every year — Staebell saw his activity increase, but he did not want to see the yearly decline. Anytime Fitness developed the Keep in Touch program to “stay track of them so they don’t lose sight of their goals,” he said.

“It’s the accountability,” Staebell said. “Only a small percentage of people — I hate to say it — can keep themselves accountable; that’s where we add that hand.”

Melissa Maranda, a licensed health counselor in Bettendorf, suggests taking goals step by step with complete self-focus. Taking the goal by smaller parts, she said, helps from becoming overwhelmed.

“If the goal is to stop smoking, then start by cutting back one cigarette each day,” Maranda said. “Begin to visualize yourself as a non-smoker and all the things that will be different in your life when you are no longer a smoker. The idea is to take the first step, and then the next step and before you know it you will have taken all the steps and reached your goal.”

People also fall off their goal train when fast and easy results aren’t realistic. Starting a goal, with the intention of achieving it fast, can be OK — so long as it is reasonable with the individual’s limits, Maranda said.

“If we set a goal that is not easily reachable in a satisfying amount of time it can be easy to get discouraged with ourselves,” Maranda said. “That is when the negative self-talk sometimes creeps in. If a goal isn’t quickly completed, we may be tempted to give up or tell ourselves we are not up to the challenge.”

Though positivity is a key resource in achieving a goal, effort is the main driver. Willingness to make a change and the follow-through with that image will reap success, Maranda said. Failing to push through the negativity and taking on too much are when goals tend to fail, she said.

“To break this pattern,” Maranda said, “we need to set realistic goals and allow gradual change to happen over time rather than expecting instant success.”