New Year’s resolutions

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New Year’s resolutions have been around for a very long time…4000 years to be exact.

Ancient Babylonians held a festival at the start of the new year and made promises to their gods. They included resolutions such as paying off debts and return anything borrowed to the rightful owner. Sound familiar?

All these years later, people are still making resolutions to improve their lives, but most don’t keep them. Actually, only eight percent keep them throughout the year.

Here are the top three resolutions most people make and a few suggestions on how to keep them.

  1. Lose weight and eat healthier

This is harder than it sounds. With sweets and treats being brought into the office, fast food restaurants making meals quick and easy, and spending time with friends and family which always seems to center around food, losing weight and eating right become almost impossible. But a little planning makes it all possible and worthwhile.

First, find a buddy or someone you trust to whom you will be accountable. Let that person know you want to lose weight and eat right. Encourage that person to coach you and keep you on the path to better health. Having an accountability partner makes it harder to stray toward those bad nibbling habits.

Secondly, buy only healthy snacks and when tempted to eat something unhealthy, eat those instead. Instead of potato chips, try vegetable chips. A good rule of thumb is if it is made from something white, it isn’t right. That means flour, sugar, shortening, cream, potatoes, rice, salad dressings, mayonnaise, etc. So be sure to read labels.

Thirdly, yes, you may be eating salads, but back away from the “extras” such as bacon, cheese, croutons and extra dressing.

Lastly, get some exercise. For some people, exercise is a hateful word. But let’s face it, you need to exercise to lose weight. Invest in some good headphones and listen to music if it helps. Set a reasonable goal for distance or minutes and celebrate when you reach that goal, then make a new goal. One man who lost weight promised himself that for every 10 pounds he lost, he would treat himself to a pizza. He lost eighty pounds and kept it off.

If you are handicapped, there are wonderful chair exercises that you can do that will help you lose weight. They can be found on the internet.

Locally, Fit4 gym and the Walterboro Recreation Center gym provide facilities and classes for exercise and payment plans to accommodate members. Curves also offers online classes for women.

  1. Stop smoking

Smoking is an addiction and extremely hard to stop. But a lot of people have reached that goal, so it is possible. Stopping the smoking addiction by going “cold turkey” is not the way to go. To quit smoking, start by eliminating one cigarette a day. Then move to two cigarettes, then three and so on. Set an alarm on your phone that will alert you when you can have a cigarette. Then, lengthen the time weekly. There are also products on the market designed to help you, and are cost effective when compared to the yearly cost spent on purchasing cartons of cigarettes. Surprisingly, the average smoker spends approximately $200 a month on cigarettes — that’s $2,400 a year. As your smoking decreases, continuing saving the money usually spent on cigarettes. At the end of the year, treat yourself to a $2,400 well-earned gift.

  1. Save more money and spend less

Get rid of the credit cards. It’s hard to do, but necessary. Try using cash only for all purchases. Start putting all loose change in a container; use paper money only. The small coins and change add up after a while and at the end of the year, cash it in and put the money in a savings account. Budget carefully for housing, food and transportation. Divide leftover money and put in envelopes for each day of the week. When the money is gone from the envelope, no more can be spent. If there is money left over in the envelope, add it to the next day’s envelope. The envelope strategy helps people see where and how fast their money is going.

This is a new year, and hopefully, it will be better than the last. While some things may not be in your control, you certainly have the ability to fulfill some of these resolutions.

So, get started and let friends know about your resolution so they can cheer you on. Who knows — your goals may be an inspiration to someone else who also made a resolution.

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