Falling off the Wagon


What happens when your wellness resolutions fail?

Babylonians made promises to their gods at the beginning of each year. Romans made decrees to Janus. Two months into 2013, and Chicagoans are still forging ahead with ‘resolutions.’

With roughly 60 percent of Americans overweight and about eight million women living with heart disease, you’d think we’d do a better job of keeping promises to ourselves. Three Chicago women who’ve found manageable, realistic ways to achieve wellness goals share their advice.

If yoga has been on your resolution list like an old book getting dusty on a shelf, Anita March may help you finally get to class. Ms. March began practicing yoga 10 years ago and now travels worldwide to places like Tuscany, Italy, to expand her practice. “It set me on the path of looking internally at my life and what changes I might want to make to live a more authentic, alive life,” she says.

Ms. March was so drawn to yoga she became certified to teach. “When you find something that resonates with you, you’ll be more apt to continue with it,” she insists, suggesting that setting New Year’s resolutions is all media hype. “Why put all that pressure on yourself? Work diligently year-round so you won’t have such a high hurdle to start the New Year.”

Traci D. Mitchell, owner of DM Nutrition and Fitness, believes the reason resolutions fail is not necessarily about the pressure. “Having worked with clients as long as I have, the two biggest resolution offenders are ‘The Forgetters’ and ‘The Excuse-Makers.’ I believe you have to be in the mindset to commit to a resolution for it to actually work, and much of that mindset comes from confidence in believing you can achieve your goal.”

Ms. Mitchell works hard at building that confidence with her clients through The 40 Day Shape Up – a program based around eating for your body type and creating a functional fitness routine. “Clients receive 20 workouts that can be done anywhere (no gym required). You just need a body that’s ready and willing,” says the wellness expert whose E-book, 20 High Energy Workouts to a Great Body, offers readers ways to stay accountable, add variety through different workouts and gain confidence by knowing you have a precise plan.

Aside from pressure, forgetfulness and excuses, it’s also sometimes a lack of knowledge and support that has us breaking up with our resolutions. Cardiovascular ICU Nurse Nicole Uli joined a gym because of a New Year’s resolution. “However, I try not to consider it a resolution; rather, a lifestyle change,” she shares. It was this idea that also led her to the Paleo nutrition plan – a program based on what ancient hunters/gatherers used to eat: meat, nuts, seeds, vegetables, some fruits, little starch and no sugar.

Diane Sanfilippo, author of New York Times bestseller Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach to Health and a Whole-Foods Lifestyle, says, “The benefits of eliminating anti-inflammatory foods, which is the main purpose of a Paleo diet, can run the gamut from weight loss, improved blood sugar regulation and clearing up acne to enhancing athletic performance/fertility and even putting autoimmune conditions like Multiple Sclerosis, Hashimoto’s Disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis into remission.”

So far, Ms. Uli says eating clean feels good and she even joined a six-week Paleo challenge alongside the members of her Crossfit gym. Paleo also encourages a circle of support for those who need it through Twitter, private groups on Facebook, blogs and other forums. “The growing, active online [and often local/in-person] community of people following a Paleo-type diet is huge and can help make keeping motivated easy,” says Ms. Sanfilippo.

So if every year your New Year’s resolution fails, try to find workouts that speak to you, have an informative plan and surround yourself with positive influences.


About Lisa Payne

Lisa Payne is a Writer, Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor. After receiving her BA’s in Broadcast Journalism and Communications from the University of Iowa, she worked as a Writer/Producer at KCRG-TV, an ABC affiliate, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Lisa then moved back to Chicago to receive her Post-Baccalaureate degree and MFA in writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Lisa has since combined both of her loves: fitness and writing.