Local fitness and nutrition representatives recommend setting reasonable goals and celebrating small victories when making New Year's resolutions.
Waldorf College assistant professor of psychology Cassie Eno explained the motivation behind making resolutions at the start of a new year.
"The end of the year is the time to be reflective and set goals for the new year," Eno said.
Societal pressure may also lead to the rush to make changes as 2011 comes to a close.
"Everyone around us is making resolutions," said Eno, who quoted research that said 50 percent of Americans make resolutions in the new year.
Common resolutions revolve around weight loss, improved nutrition and kicking a bad habit, like smoking or excessive drinking, she said.
Hancock County Memorial Hospital (HCMH) staff members Becky Kofron and Deb Studer said they hear questions about fitness and healthy eating increase this time of year, like what is the sodium content of traditional holiday foods or what are healthier choices during the holidays.
However the annual question is still popular: "What can I do to lose weight?"
"It's not only what you eat, it's what you do," said Studer, a dietitian, certified diabetes educator and health coach.
Studer said she sees several patients who make unrealistic goals that may set them up for failure.
"They say they'll buy a treadmill and exercise every day for an hour every day," Studer said. "Resolutions that tend to do with health have a really large goal."
Studer and Kofron suggested smaller, short-term goals that are more realistically attainable, then adding more as the year progresses.
Starting out with just five minutes a day to "do something" and gradually increasing to the recommended 30 minutes is realistic, Studer said.
"The commitment for the year should not be focusing on pounds and weight," said Kofron, the nutrition supervisor at HCMH. "Just try to be healthier."
Studer and Kofron suggested those who wish to lose weight should write down how much they actually eat and exercise.
"It's the full picture of what you're really doing to change your behavior," Studer said.
Other small changes Studer and Kofron suggested were eating breakfast each morning and replacing sweet or salty snack foods with fruits and vegetables.
Erin Brown teaches the newly popular Latin-inspired dancing fitness class, Zumba, in Britt.
Brown said resolutions are the first step, but there is more to it than just setting the goal.
"Having a resolution is a good place to start motivating yourself to become healthier, but it's the action plan that will make you successful," Brown said.
Making a focused resolution is important to achieving it, she said.
"Rather than saying you want to be healthier, commit to a class three days a week," Brown said.
Brown also said enlisting a friend to join in your fitness plan helps each person continue to be dedicated.
Advice to keeping a resolution longer than two weeks has few innovations, Studer said. Choosing nutrient-rich foods and attempting to be active is what it takes to make long-term lifestyle changes, not investing in expensive machinery or remedies.
"People think they have to change so much, but they leave saying, 'I can do that,'" Studer said.