Keeping New Year's resolutions requires dedication, right mindset, Cranberry doctor says

Dr. Richard Frey, founder of Cranberry Psychological Center, weighs in on why people have difficulty sticking to lifestyle changes.
Dr. Richard Frey, founder of Cranberry Psychological Center, weighs in on why people have difficulty sticking to lifestyle changes.
| Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

Drop 20 pounds. Quit Smoking. Drink less alcohol. Eat healthy. Spend more time with family.

New Year's resolutions sound good, but studies consistently show that approximately 90 percent of the people who make them fail.

As a member of several gyms for the last seven years, Hollie Ramaley has watched the yearly cycle of “resolutioners” pack the gym right after Christmas and gradually fade away within in two months.

“There are a few people that stay and make real changes, so it's great if someone can make a change, but most of them are gone by February,” Ramaley, of Regent Square, said.

Still, Ramaley admitted that eating healthy is one resolution that she fails to fully conquer each year. While she has completely cut out things like fried food, she still occasionally gives into eating pasta and breads.

Gym goers like Andrew Kaiser, originally from Moscow, said that one reason people might not be able to fulfill resolutions is the rigors of everyday life.

“You don't realize it when you're in high school or college, but daily tasks take away a lot of energy and there's only so much stress you can take,” Kaiser said. “Sometimes you just don't have time for all of the good intentions you had.”

According to Dr. Richard Frey, founder of Cranberry Psychological Center, people struggle to achieve their resolutions, because bad habits are ingrained into everyone's daily life.

“Bad habits have been with us for literally years, and so to change a bad habit into a more healthy habit, it requires a lot of time,” Frey said. “However, people tend to want results quickly, but bad habits don't change overnight.”

Frey and Joe Divosevic, owner of M.A.C. Fitness in Wexford, suggested that people approach their resolutions with a plan.

“You want to plan little stepping stones to add up to the bigger picture,” Divosevic said.

“Say you want to get fit, so you have to work out, make healthier food and portion size choices and reach smaller goals to give yourself consistent positive reinforcement and confidence to stay committed to your resolution.”

Ramaley partly attributes her success in fitness to taking classes that she felt she could succeed in. As she has become more fit, she has gone to the gym more frequently and has signed up for more challenging classes.

Being in a class of people that work toward a common goal is one way to enhance your chances of achieving resolutions, according to Divosevic.

That's partly why Christian Cotugno, after watching Divosevic teach a class of 10 on Dec. 16, signed up to take boxing lessons.

“I liked that they're so close, seem to know each other pretty well, and they're pushing each other to get the best out of each other,” Cotugno, of Seven Fields, said. “Having one person push you is extra incentive, so multiply that motivation several times in a class like this.”

Kaiser stresses that fitness affects every part of one's life.

“It impacts everything from what you eat to drinking alcohol, because obviously you wouldn't want to drink so much that you can't train the next morning,” Kaiser said. “It also reflects on your ability to focus and to get a job done, and ultimately you feel happier and more confident.”

Frey also said there is a link between physical and psychological health.

“There's a strong connection between mind and body,” Frey said. “If I'm feeling healthier, then I'm much more inclined to do things that are healthy in other parts of my life.”

Shawn Annarelli is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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