Many resolving to improve lives during 2009

Published 6:00 am Monday, January 12, 2009

The new year brings many new beginnings, but for a large numberof people, the plan is self-betterment.

Brookhaven’s Heather Hudnall was walking off the pounds on atreadmill and said it was her second day at Snap Fitness, a newhealth club that recently opened on Brookway Boulevard.

Hudnall said while she doesn’t make New Year’s resolutions, perse, she is working on a health kick. Part of the weight-loss planis a long-term goal, but she has other things at stake.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“I’m actually trying to get in shape for my sister’s wedding inMay,” she said.

Hudnall is not the only person in town looking to drop a fewpounds for the new year, health officials said.

Curves owner Debbie Smith said her club signed up about 20people last week, almost five times more than a usual week.

“Through the rest of the year, a normal week is about four orfive signups,” she said. “We’ve got about 100 working out everyday. I’d say maybe three-fourths of those will stay, and they staybecause it works.”

Other health clubs reported increased enrollment in the new yearas well, citing not only holiday pounds and resolutions as drivingfactors, but also winter weather.

“A lot of people who are already active and they do theirworkouts outdoors … they may walk but it’s gotten too cold,they’ll come in and use the treadmills,” said King’s DaughtersMedical Center Manager Todd Peavey.

Meanwhile, Karen Fortenberry of Gallman is one of those outdoorspeople.

She was choosing between freezer meals at a local grocery andsaid she’s not using a gym this year. Her resolution is not only tokeep up an exercise routine, but simply to make healthychoices.

“I’m just going to walk more and try to eat less,” she said. “Iactually have a journal I’m writing down my meals in, and if I haveto look at what all I ate, I really think I’ll eat less.”

And those healthy choices, whether it be eating or exercise, aredefinitely conducive to a longer and more productive life, saidHuman Performance Center Manager Chris Davis.

“We’re a therapy place too, so we see a lot of people with heartproblems, diabetes, and we have some stroke victims,” he said.”It’s good for any kind of health-related issue. Exercise is goodfor almost any disease.”

Snap Fitness Owner and Manager Dean Cutrer said it is hisexperience that people typically begin their health kicks as NewYear’s resolutions because they’re worried about the way theylook.

“Typically they’ll get involved especially after they’vedeveloped those really bad eating habits over the holidays,” hesaid. “They need to work on developing an overall fitness plan, notjust about how they look but about how they feel and being able tomaintain positive overall wellness.”

Part of that overall wellness, Smith said, is releasing thestress.

“I’m hearing a lot of people say it’s about health and stressrelease, and of course many of them are going on diets,” she said.”The media was saying all through December that even though theeconomy is bad, people didn’t need to let go of their fitnessmemberships because of the fact that it helps beat the stress.”

And Peavey said strangely enough, the economy has not affectedbusiness at KDMC.

“Years ago this was considered a luxury, but now people realizeit’s an investment into your future if you’re healthier, and thecost of the membership is economical because you’re not onlyhealthy, you get to meet people,” he said. “There’s a socialenvironment that’s also a psychological factor.”

Davis agreed.

“That’s what I use it for. It’s better to come in here andrelease your stress at the end of the day instead of going home toyour family and releasing everything,” he said. “I know my wifeappreciates it.”

But staying motivated can be a trick, experts say. Healthexperts say some gyms offer their own motivations and incentives totry to keep people on track.

“After New Year’s, people go hard for about three months beforeit trails off,” Cutrer said. “It starts an unhealthy yo-yo patternwhere they’ll go hard for a little while, and then it’ll slackoff.”

But just sticking with it can make a huge difference, Smithsaid. She said she’s had people through the years with remarkablestories, but that last year she had three different women who alllost 100 pounds each.

Peavey added it’s important for people to remember that “thin”doesn’t necessarily mean “fit.”

“Not everyone’s going to be a model. In our society a lot oftimes being thin is what people think of as being fit,” he said.”If you have a healthy lifestyle, some of your body weight isgenetics, and you just need to focus on being healthy.”