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Making and keeping of new year's resolutions

Katie McAuliffe runs on a treadmill at Anytime Fitness, 250 N. Ortonville Road. Photo by Susan Bromley. (click for larger version)
January 05, 2011 - It's one week into the new year. Have you blown that resolution yet?

No worries, says Kanako Taku, assistant psychology professor at Oakland University. Make a new one the first day of next month. Or Monday. Or just start over tomorrow morning.

"In the United States, it's more popular to make resolutions for the new year," said Taku. "We all have inner motivation that we want to forget everything from before and start over... We set resolutions to achieve goals, but we set the goal because we want to share. Although sharing is good, it doesn't motivate us to keep the resolution. A better solution is to make a resolution every week, make short-term goals to stay motivated."

Taku said a study by the Nielsen Corporation found that 56 percent of the world's population makes resolutions for the new year. Often, those goals are health re-lated, such as losing weight, exercising more, eating healthier foods, or quitting smoking. Financial goals are also popular. But for any goal, she said it is important to be flexible and realistic, while also specific.

"Instead of saying you're going to read a bunch of books, say you will read one book every week, so it's more concrete and realistic," advised Taku. "Include a number for weight loss or frequency for going to the gym. It will help you to understand whether you've achieved the goal or not."

The professor asks her students to set goals for all 365 days by using a spreadsheet with up to 31 slots (for the maximum number of days in a month), then each month at the top and a goal like 'go to gym' or 'drink less'. Then, use colors like green for 'no drink', yellow for 'one glass' or red for 'two or more drinks.' The important thing, she said, is to not have too many colors, and to keep it simple to visualize where you are, like a roadmap.

"Try to make meaning out of the changes," she said. "Even though you don't always meet the resolution, just reset again. Don't beat yourself up if you fail. If Jan. 1 doesn't work, just start again on whatever day."

Sara Ault, a Brandon Township Library employee, doesn't make resolutions, but rather follows a similar theory to Taku.

"If you have a goal you want to achieve, you shouldn't wait until January," she said. "If you want to lose weight, you should do it when you realize you need to, not Jan. 1... If it needs to be addressed, there's no time like the present."

Christine Neill, whose children attend Brandon Schools, made a resolution to lose weight last summer, when she had gastric bypass surgery. She has lost 80 pounds since August and has a goal to lose 70 more.

"I never made any resolutions before that I followed through with," she said. "Now I'm on a mission. I want to be slim for the summer and just be happier and healthier in the new year."

Greg Taylor, personal trainer at Anytime Fitness, 250 N. Ortonville Road, said he always has goals, not just for the new year. But this year, he wants to buy his first home and start his own business.

"I know I will succeed, because I'm determined," he said. "This is definitely the year."

Katie McAuliffe, working out at Anytime Fitness, didn't make any resolutions for the new year, but also sets regular goals for herself. This year, she plans to run a 5K in the spring and a half-marathon in the fall. She has also set a goal of saving money to attend Central Michigan University in the fall.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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