Many well-intentioned people make New Year’s resolutions every year. Some are successful at keeping them and making lasting changes in their lives, whether it be physical, mental, emotional or spiritual. For others, the the goal comes and goes, sometimes rather quickly. The average New Year’s resolution is broken by day 14. In an effort to help those who may be planning on some changes in the new year, this article will focus on three of the most common resolutions that people make and the best ways to accomplish those goals.

Many well-intentioned people make New Year’s resolutions every year. Some are successful at keeping them and making lasting changes in their lives, whether it be physical, mental, emotional or spiritual. For others, the the goal comes and goes, sometimes rather quickly. The average New Year’s resolution is broken by day 14. In an effort to help those who may be planning on some changes in the new year, this article will focus on three of the most common resolutions that people make and the best ways to accomplish those goals.


Some percentage of smokers usually decide that the New Year would be a good time to try to quit. There are many ways to go about this, from quitting cold turkey (statistically the least effective), to joining a cessation class for a few weeks. According to the American Cancer Society, the average smoker requires seven attempts before they are successful at quitting for good. This may be discouraging to some potential quitters, but it’s not so different from conquering any other addiction. Early attempts to quit any addictive substance are often unsuccessful. Instead of taking this information and deciding that a quit attempt isn’t worth the effort, try to take an alternative view of the situation. Every time a smoker makes the effort to quit, that’s one try closer to the goal. If a long-range attitude can be maintained, a motivated smoker can join the ranks of the nonsmoking public with some effort over time.


The Foundation for a Smoke-free America’s website, tobaccofree.org, suggests that the most effective conventional way to quit smoking is to use some form of nicotine replacement (patch, gum, inhaler), either alone or in combination with an oral medication. There are some other less traditional methods outlined on this site that may be worth checking out. A conversation with your health care provider is probably the best way to determine what the best quit method would be for you. The New York State Smokers Quitline (1-866-NYQUITS) has trained counselors who can guide would-be quitters in the process.


Another often-made resolution is to lose weight. With an estimated 60 percent of adult Americans in the overweight or obese category, this is an important one. If you have ever looked into methods of losing weight, and even if you haven’t, the popular media abounds with suggestions. From pills to fad diets to “proven” Internet claims, the solutions for being overweight seem endless. Bear this in mind: if the claim sounds too good to be true, it probably is. No single food or supplement holds the answer that so many are looking for. And it’s almost never easy. Losing weight takes focus, determination and, like smoking, the attitude that this will not happen overnight. Study after study has shown that a large number of pounds lost in a short amount of time are quickly found again. A consultation with your health care provider may be the best way for you to determine the approach that is most appropriate for you.


Many experts feel that lasting weight loss is difficult to accomplish without some form of regular exercise, which is the third resolution that a fair number of people make at New Year’s. This one is easy: get yourself a good pair of walking shoes and get outside. And yes, I know it’s winter out there, but with the proper clothing, a 30-minute walk almost every day of the week can be accomplished on all but the worst weather days. On those days, get yourself to your local school that may be open for community walking at certain times or certain days of the week. Or try the mall, or even the local superstore. I’ve been told that the perimeter of the one near me is one quarter of a mile around. Or, dust off that treadmill that you’ve been using as your personal valet, or offer to take your friend’s off his or her hands (only if theirs is also buried). If you are over the age of 40, have had health problems in the past or are new to exercising, your health care provider would be delighted to see you before you begin an exercise program.


No matter what your resolution might be, try to enlist the help of a buddy to give you moral support. These changes can seem overwhelming sometimes, and having someone who understands your goals and is willing to listen to you complain now and then can be the difference between success and being at this same place next year at this time.


I wish you determination and stamina, and all the best for this New Year.


Pam Maxson is a health educator at Noyes Hospital in Dansville. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles, she can be reached at pmaxson@noyes-hospital.org or 585-335-4327.