Hillary Toppe wants to work on her eating habits and make healthier choices

for meals.

David Lafferty said he wants to be a better all-around person, while Michelle Stephens wants to focus on being happy.

On the other hand, Mary Carlson said she doesn’t make New Year’s resolutions because most of the time they are things you should be doing or changing anyway.

Story continues below gallery

How do you ensure your resolution will become a reality? Think S.M.A.R.T.,

said Lauren Neuenschwander of the Purdue Extension Jackson County office.

First, be specific while defining your goal.

“For example, a goal to eat healthier is not specific enough,” she said. “Instead, think about what you really want to do to achieve your goal and spell it out. A specific goal would be: ‘I will replace white bread with

100 percent whole wheat bread.’”

Second, make your resolution measurable.

“It’s important to structure your goal in such a way that you know if you actually achieve it or not,” Neuenschwander said. “Ask yourself this: At the end of 2015, how will I know if I’ve met my goal?”

Also, the resolution should be attainable. She said a big reason resolutions fail is because they weren’t attainable from the beginning.

“Someone who hasn’t run a mile since high school will probably not be able to run a marathon by February, but he or she may be able to run a 5K by late spring,” she said. “Set yourself up for success, not failure.”

Goals also need to be reasonable, she said. Reasonable goals also are fair goals, meaning you shouldn’t be committing excess time to achieving your goal and throwing the rest of your life out of balance, she said.

Finally, goals need to be timely and have a time frame associated with them.

“Maybe your goal is to exercise more often,” Neuenschwander said. “A timely goal would be: ‘I will exercise for 30 minutes three times a week.’ Making your goals timely will help you determine if you’re actually meeting your goals or not.”

Since exercising or losing weight is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions, Aubrie Kraemer, a certified personal trainer at Snap Fitness in Seymour, said a lot of people come in this month to sign up for a membership.

But once you have that membership, it’s important to make exercising a routine and stay motivated, she said.

If you are new to exercising, Kraemer suggested starting out slow and focusing on cardio.

“You don’t want to put too much on yourself at first just because you don’t want to hurt yourself in any way or anything like that. You want to be safe about it,” she said. “Definitely starting out with cardio and getting your heart rate up, that’s a big deal.”

Mixing it up

That can be done on a treadmill, elliptical or exercise bike. Several gyms, including Snap Fitness, also offer a variety of exercise classes.

“With the classes, you have a group of people that come in and help you, motivate you and all that,” Kraemer said. “They are actually a lot of fun. You can bring a friend or two friends, and that way, people feel more comfortable instead of just walking into a room by themselves and people they don’t know.”

Kraemer also said it’s a good idea to have a workout buddy.

“When you have somebody beside you every day telling you to wake up to go work out or after dinner saying, ‘Let’s go work out,’ just having somebody there with you is a great support system, too,” she said.

Taking two or three days of rest in a week is important, too, she said.

“Your body is going to get so wore out, and you don’t want your body to get wore out,” she said. “Maybe every other day or two days, take a rest just to let your muscles relax and let your body relax. Your body will also let you know when it is just time to relax and settle down.”

Mixing up your exercise routine will help you not plateau as much, Kraemer said.

“Maybe each time you come in, have something new to do, or every two times that you come in, make sure that you have something new to do just to kind of give your body something different to do,” she said.

While exercising, it’s key to drink plenty of water, get plenty of sleep and eat properly, Kraemer said.

“It’s not about if you’re skinny or if you’re slim or anything like that. It’s about being healthy,” she said. “If you’re eating clean and eating right and drinking plenty of water and you work out at least 30 minutes (on exercise days), you’re at least doing something good for your body that your body craves.”

Managing finances

People also look for ways to manage their finances in the new year.

Duriya Lakdawala, branch manager of PNC Bank in Seymour, said it’s important for people to save money.

“Ninety percent of the customers that I get every day don’t have a savings account,” she said. “My first financial tip would be at least 25 percent of your paycheck should go into a savings account. That

way, then you’re budgeting yourself to only use

75 percent.”

Once you have that 25 percent in savings, you have to have the discipline not to use it, she added.

“Instead of giving yourself the thrill of spending money on something trivial, start feeling the thrill of seeing that money in savings and finally saying, ‘Oh my gosh, I have this much money in my savings account,’” Lakdawala said.

Another tip is budgeting. For example, she said to compare your grocery bill to a restaurant bill. Often, it’s less expensive to go to the grocery store and put a meal together than eating out.

“If you don’t play those games to see how you can save it, you’ll never, ever save,” Lakdawala said. “It’s your hard-earned money. You’ve got to learn how to save it.”

Education is another important aspect, she said.

“Never stop educating yourself,” she said. “Continue education because that’s what will promote you in your job. That’s what keeps your mind moving all the time. Once you have that expertise, your education, then that will push you to get a better job, and hopefully, a better income.”

At a glance

Lauren Neuenschwander, a registered dietitian and nutritionist with Purdue Extension Jackson County, offers these weight-loss tips:

  • Most diets will work, but the key is to choose a diet that you can stick with and that is nutritious. Diets that cut out major food groups can work, but you may be sacrificing key nutrients that your body needs.
  • Exercise is critical to losing weight and also in maintaining weight loss. Try to exercise at least three days a week to start out with and move up to exercising five days a week when you’re ready.
  • Have realistic weight-loss goals. One to two pounds of weight loss per week is ideal. If this is discouraging, think of it this way: You didn’t gain an extra 50 pounds overnight, and you can’t lose it all overnight, either.
  • Celebrate the small successes with non-food rewards. Were you able to exercise every day this week? Congratulations! Reward yourself with a new book you’ve been wanting to read or treat yourself to a movie you’ve been wanting to see.
Author photo
Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.