By Charlene Dean
What is it about January 1 that causes us as humans to break out the resolve and commit to a New Year’s resolution?
And once made, does the resolution really result in change?
New Year’s resolutions have been around since the Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year to return borrowed objects and pay their debts. Those were quite successful as the punishment for failure ultimately outweighed doing the right thing.
As decades passed, making resolutions has changed from working on character to external appearance. For instance, wikipedia states “At the end of the 19th century, a typical teenage girl’s New Year’s resolution was focused on good works: she resolved to become less self-centered, more helpful, a more diligent worker and to improve her internal character. Body image, health, diet, and desired possessions were rarely mentioned.
“At the end of the 20th century, the typical teenage girl’s resolution is focused on good looks: she wants to improve her body, hairstyle, makeup and clothing.”
Who actually makes New Year’s resolutions anyway?
Numbers from the Statistic Brain website cite data provided by the University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology, which tell us of the 45 percent of Americans who make the commitment, only 8 percent succeed.
Thirty-nine percent of the successful are in their 20s. The 50 and over crowd have a lower success rate — 14 percent. There is something to be said for being “set in your ways.” The older you get, the harder it is to make changes.
The website also reports out of 100 percent, 75 percent keep their promises for a week and 71 make it through two weeks. After that it’s a downhill run to 64 percent at one month to 46 percent at six months.
People make resolutions for everything from better health to more money.
Popular goals include losing weight, eating better and drinking less. There are mental goals as well — thinking positively, laughing more, reducing stress and enjoying life.
Money and financial resolutions include getting out of debt and saving for retirement.
Career goals and furthering education are right up there with spending time with family and falling in love.
Humans wax philosophical about making New Year’s resolutions, too. On Page 5 of this section, outdoor columnist Dan Simmons writes about planning as a way to make a memory to last a lifetime. His focus this year is to have it happen for himself.
According to the stats, the number one resolution involves better health and local retailers and service companies are capitalizing on helping you keep promises to yourself.
In the Wednesday circular, Smith’s Food and Drug has launched an advertising campaign for a line called Simple Truth, which touts natural cereals, whole grains, organic produce and other staples “to help you eat better.”
Local gymnasiums have launched membership campaigns for those who vow to get in shape and lose weight.
Anytime Fitness manager Joe Huwyler said he’s had 12 new members sign up. “Asking if this happens at the first of the year is a no-brainer.”
He said the gym has 1,900 locations across the country which appeals to the RVers. “If you’re a member of one Anytime Fitness, you can use any of our facilities. A lot of traveling folks find their campground by how close it is to the gym.”
Huwyler said he prefers to call taking care of your body a “lifestyle.” “Once you start, it becomes something you do routinely.”
First Move Fitness trainer Ginger Stumne agrees. “We’ve had an influx of new memberships and when I talk to them, I think it’s important they look at a New Year’s resolution for better health as a lifestyle change.”
She also advocates setting realistic goals. “If someone comes in here telling me they want to lose 90 pounds in six months, I try to get them to change how they look at it. Instead of telling me how much weight you want to lose, tell me what dress size you want to be in six months.” She said most people stick with their workout schedule for about three months before she sees the membership decline. “We offer flexible payment plans with no contracts. You only buy what you want.”
Curves for women is a nationwide chain as well and the workout machines focus on cardio health and protecting your muscles while toning and losing weight. Membership includes some help in the kitchen with a companion website to help women eat better with recipes, meal planning and shopping lists.
Local residents who shall remain nameless offered the following advice about resolutions:
“Don’t make them. You never have to worry about letting yourself down if you don’t.”
“Find someone with the same goals and do it together. The buddy system will help keep you on track.” And
“If you’re wanting to save more and spend less, turn your assets over to a financial broker.”
Regardless of how you accomplish your goals, we wish you luck.