If you are like most people, your New Year's resolution to live healthier is probably interchangeable with last year's, and the year before that.
During the first few days and weeks of the new year, motivation for reaching health goals is highest. But after about the first two months, the dedication that was once so powerful begins to wane, at least until swimsuit season.
"It's a great time to start the year out right as far as changing to a healthier lifestyle," Leslie Davis, bariatric program dietitian with Bariatric Weight Loss Center at Northeast Georgia Medical Center, said.
The J.A. Walters YMCA in Gainesville has already seen a membership increase of 70 families this month alone. Wellness coordinator Angie Vimont said she expects to see two to three times as many new members in the coming weeks.
"You have a mad rush for about two months and then the ones that aren't serious disappear," Christel Paris, group fitness instructor at the YMCA, said.
She said only about 20 percent of new members actually keep going with their weight loss goals.
Paris said a few of the students in her spinning class are living proof of the power of perseverance. When they started the class, they could barely do half of the workout.
"If you can't do it, don't be discouraged. Do what you can and jump back in. If you feel like you can push it a little harder, then push for those few seconds or minutes and then back down," Paris said.
On her way home from work, Susan Nelson stopped by the YMCA Wednesday afternoon to work out on the elliptical machine.
She made a goal for herself in November to live healthier. Part of that goal includes drinking more water, eating healthier food and exercising regularly.
"Three to four times a week is a goal I set that I can keep," Nelson said.
She said that with age comes wisdom, and she's learned that she can't expect herself to be or look like someone else.
"As women we have these unrealistic expectations from society," Nelson said. "Being healthy is part of that umbrella you should be under."
The first thing to consider when making your resolution is whether or not the goal is realistic.
"You can't start off doing four-hour workouts. Create a manageable workout that you can stick with," Vimont said.
Davis suggests avoiding fad diets. Losing a lot of weight quickly will only lead to long-term failure and cause weight to yo-yo. Instead, focus on overall healthy lifestyle changes.
Healthy weight loss will amount to 1-2 pounds lost a week. Davis will be offering a weight-loss class called Living Lighter in February. To register, email email@example.com.
Another key to success is having someone to hold you accountable to your goals. People are more likely to work out and eat right if they know someone is counting on them.
"Getting the whole family involved is even better because then everybody is in the same boat," Vimont said.
Even families with very young children can live healthier.
Getting young children to exercise is as easy as playing an active game. Try offering a picky eater a few healthy food items to choose from.
"With young children it starts out in the beginning, it starts out with healthy food," Davis said. "Children can appreciate healthy foods as much as they can the unhealthy foods."
Davis said the most important thing a parent can do for their child is to exemplify a healthy lifestyle.
"It really starts with the parents. The parents have to be a good example because (kids) are watching," Davis said.