A fresh start doesn’t have to start Jan. 1

Published 10:26 pm Saturday, January 11, 2014

Not sure what it is about the New Year, but a lot of people use the fresh calendar year to start anew themselves.

Losing weight or starting a workout routine is always a popular resolution. The resolutions tend to focus on getting rid of or gaining something — like losing weight, stopping smoking, saving more money, eating more vegetables, etc.

I am not a big fan of grandiose New Year’s resolutions. They are hard to keep, especially when making big, sweeping life changes all at once. And when they fail — and most do — it is a huge disappointment.

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And a positive change, whether it is eating healthier or sticking to the family budget, can start at any time. Why not start an exercise routine on March 1 or even in the middle of September?

All that being said, one of my biggest life changes did happen to start around the first of January about nine years ago. I was fresh out of college and working in my first job in the “real world.” I also was lugging around the freshman 15, plus about 60 other extra pounds.

It all started with my annual checkup at the doctor’s office and the inevitable step on their scale. This time I actually peeked at the number and it shocked me. Neither the nurses nor the doctor said anything to me, but I knew something needed to change.

I began with trying to workout regularly for the first time in my life. I went walking with friends regularly. I cut down on soda and fast food. Once I got going, I decided that I would like to be wearing a certain size by my brother’s high school graduation in May. Fast-forward and I had reached that goal and went on to lose nearly 60 pounds.

Several ups and downs later — literally — in the past nine years and I am now at the healthiest I think I have ever been.

It all began with life giving me a little nudge in the right direction. Little lifestyle changes turned into big results for me.

One unhealthy lifestyle a lot people are trying to quit is smoking. It is a hard task, but there are many tools to help smokers become smoke free.

A Suffolk woman is one of those tools and will facilitate a quit-smoking program beginning Jan. 21. Sandra Sullivan had smoked since the age of 15 before successfully quitting in 2006, just before turning 62.

At Western Tidewater Free Clinic, 2019 Meade Parkway, the program involves eight classes from 6 to 7:30 p.m.; Tuesdays through March 4, as well as Thursday, Feb. 13.

Sullivan, who runs the program about twice a year, said this would be her first since becoming a certified facilitator for the American Lung Association’s Free From Smoking program.

Suffolk Partnership for a Healthy Community sponsors the program in Suffolk, meaning it costs the 10 participants nothing.

The program covers various aspects of quitting smoking, Sullivan said, including “the habit and the emotional part.”

Participants actually quit Feb. 4 — the third session — and the remaining meetings are follow-up sessions, she said.

Sullivan said she quit simply to improve her quality of life, not due to any serious health problems.

For more information on the program, or to reserve a spot, email info@suffolkpartnership.org or call 539-1525.