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Good health can start any time of year
The fitness center at the YMCA in Gainesville is buzzing on Thursday as residents get to work on their New Year’s resolutions. - photo by Photos by Savannah King

Top New Year’s resolutions

Lose weight

Volunteer to help others

Quit smoking

Get a better education

Get a better job

Save money

Get fit

Eat healthy food

Manage stress

Manage debt

Take a trip

Reduce, reuse and recycle

Drink less alcohol


Hallie Gilleland took a break from exercising over the holidays, but now that the new year has officially started, she’s back in the gym.

The Mount Airy resident said she doesn’t have a specific New Years resolution other than to "take better care of myself in general."

One way she plans on doing that is by taking more of her favorite spin classes at the Georgia Mountains YMCA, which she joined about a year ago.

Ron Brissey of Gainesville continued his workout routine Thursday morning, which he has done since joining the gym when it opened in 2008.

He said the gym seemed strangely quiet on the second day of the New Year but he knows that’s just temporary; in the next few weeks, it’s going to get very busy.

Improving physical health through weight loss or increased fitness is always a popular resolution, perhaps because it’s a goal that requires constant maintenance and motivation.

But this year, instead of looking at your fitness resolution as an all-or-nothing sprint, realize you have the entire year to reach your goal.

That doesn’t mean should wait to get started if you’re feeling motivated, but ease into your new lifestyle and set yourself up for success.

Suppose your goal is to start running, but all you can manage is walking down your driveway right now. That’s good; do that. Start where you are and build from there.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the best way to add physical activity to your daily life is to "stick with it," even if that means only walking for 10 to 30 minutes at a time. Over time, you can incorporate more activity into your day.

Here’s a hint: Everything counts as activity and can be added toward your daily total. That includes vacuuming and checking the mail.

Wendy Peacock, fitness instructor and personal trainer at the Frances Meadows Aquatic Center in Gainesville, recommends hanging a large wall calendar in a place you see daily. Each day, after you’ve completed your exercise activity, write it down. After a few weeks, you’ll be able to look back at where you started and see how much progress you’ve made.

Peacock’s goal is do 100 military-style pushups. To meet her goal, she plans on starting with what she already knows she can do: modified pushups on her knees.

"For me, pushups are the weakest (exercise) I do," Peacock said. "So I want to do 100 modified, military-style pushups. I’m starting, obviously, with modified pushups because I’m not great at it."

Gilleland said since she started working out, she’s learned the best way to tackle a fitness goal is to take it one day at a time and find activities that are fun.

Brissey said he enjoys strength training on the gym’s weight machines. His advice to fitness newcomers is to "maintain an even balance throughout the year."

By starting small and allowing yourself time to grow stronger you’ll avoid injury and burnout, which often wreck even the best-laid plans.

Peacock said people are most often successful with fitness resolutions when they realize that wellness and health involve an overall lifestyle change.

"You don’t have to start off at the first of the year. You can start whenever," Peacock said. "But don’t stop. Just don’t take your foot off the gas."

Whenever your motivation starts to wane — and you can go ahead and plan on that happening from time to time — Peacock said it might help to think of those who would love to be able to do the exercises you’re to unmotivated to do.

"I mean, if you have your health and you’re able to exercise and you’re not, that is a waste," Peacock said. "You see people who can’t walk and are in wheelchairs or who are so sick they can’t even stand up. They wish they had the energy to work out and you do have it and you’re not using it. I mean that’s a shame. Don’t you think?"