Man lifting weights

Have a plan, get support to achieve New Year’s resolutions, experts say

Every year, millions of people start the New Year with hope. They resolve to lose weight, quit a bad habit or make a permanent life change, but after a few weeks, many give up.

In 2018, Strava, an app for athletes, even pinpointed the day that many quit as the second Friday in January, and it’s been called National Quitters Day.

But local residents say goals can be achieved and there are ways to press through rather than giving up.

Tonya Eller didn’t make a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, but she did have a moment of decision in 2020 to achieve better health, and in the process, she lost 80 pounds. Read her story here.

And yes, there were times she wanted to quit along the way. But her resolution came in realizing what worked for others might not work for her. She knew she had to come up with her own plan.

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“I stopped comparing myself. This truly is my fitness journey, my life journey,” she said.

One of the reasons she’s been able to accomplish her goals is she’s had support. And one of her greatest champions has been her husband, Greg, who has acted as a coach and weightlifting partner and sounding board.

He was there, she said, when she was frustrated and wanted to quit. And sometimes, he told her to ease up for a day, but not give up entirely. Her children have also been her cheerleaders. Her daughter, Sarabeth Wheeler has also been a workout buddy. Eller said wanted to make them proud.

She’s also found a community of people to support her by joining CrossFit.

They accepted her where she was and she doesn’t feel judged when she’s got the slowest time in the group. It just makes her want to try harder the next time.

 Tara Simkins, a life coach in North Augusta, said having support is a key to achieving goals.

 Athletes have coaches, performers have directors, and people sometimes need a boost in the form of a life coach, said Simkins.

 She offers a lot of her content free at her website, where she has podcasts and other inspirational types of messages that people can listen to.

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Charles Richard “Rick” Snyder, known as a positive psychologist, found there were two main reasons why people give up.

They don’t believe they can achieve their goals and they don’t have a plan to achieve them, he wrote in a paper he published in 2002 on the power of hope.

That lack of belief could stem from a seemingly insurmountable goal such as large weight loss or quitting a longtime habit. Simkins said that some goals are like the old proverb of eating an elephant. You do it one bite at a time.

“If the elephant is too big, what’s one thing you can do to take a step toward it?,” she asked.

Slow, consistent steps are better than no steps at, according to Eller, who said it took more than a year to reach a major weight loss milestone.

For Eller, it was simply taking the process one day at a time and making sure she did some type of activity or workout to get her to her goal.

And while she didn’t follow a commercial plan, Eller said she did take steps along the way to ensure she reached her health and fitness goals. She searched out recipes and planned meals that supported her lifestyle change.         

When it comes to weight loss, the American Psychological Association has examined the psychology of losing weight. Some keys to success it found were tracking activities, eating regular meals and eating mindfully. Mindful eating, the organization said, is eating when hungry not when bored or in reaction to stress or emotions.

Eller said that achieving her goal may not have been easy, but it’s been more than worth it. She’s glad she didn’t quit.

“I feel so much better,” she said.

Charmain Z. Brackett is the publisher of Augusta Good News. Subscribe to the newsletter here.

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