Balance

Breaking the cycle

  • Article by: JEFF STRICKLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 27, 2011 - 8:49 AM

Twin Cities residents who vowed to get in shape have found ways to stick with their New Year's resolutions.

Jack Moreland at 501 fit club gets a little coaching from Diana Broschka.

Photo: Tom Wallace, Star Tribune

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If you made a New Year's resolution to get back in shape, you're far from alone.

Weight loss and exercise are No. 1 and No. 2 resolutions every January, according to public opinion polls.

And if you've already broken that resolution, you're not alone, either.

Forty percent of New Year's resolutions don't even make it to the end of January, says a survey by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion.

But not everyone who makes a long-term vow to work up a sweat bails out so quickly. We found three Twin Citians who made fitness resolutions a year or more ago and have stuck with them.

Their experiences have two things in common: The realization that everyone needs to find his or her own motivation because what works for one person might not work for another. And the discovery that over time, exercising goes from being something they have to do to something they want to do.

Here are their stories:

If the jeans fit

Jack Moreland is in his third year of keeping his workout resolution. Concerned that he was gaining weight -- he isn't sure exactly how much because when the needle on the scale "swung past 210, I'd jump off before it could settle on a number" -- he requested that his Christmas gifts be jeans that were the size he wore before the weight gain.

"At first I was saying, 'What am I thinking? I can barely get a leg in these,'" he said.

His resolve was tested further by the fact that he already was active. An avid biker and distance runner with several marathons to his credit, he'd never dealt with being overweight before.

"But when I hit my 50s, all the things I had been doing [to keep weight off] no longer worked for me," said the 56-year-old Minneapolis resident. "I knew that I didn't want to jerk my body around through drastic diets."

A friend suggested an exercise class, but like many endurance athletes who tend to prefer solitary training, he resisted. "Group training just sounded weird to me," he said. "Finally I decided that maybe the change was something I needed."

He enrolled in a class at 501 Fit in downtown Minneapolis, which he still attends.

"Right away I started to feel better," he said. "I also started adding activity to my daily routine, things like using the stairs at work instead of the elevator. And I started setting other goals for myself. Last year, for instance, I decided that I was going to do 30,000 situps by the first of May. I did it; I got to 30,100."

In the process, he also has gotten his pants to fit by losing 35 pounds. And, yes, he has the nerve to look at the scale now.

Keeping up with herself

Judy Kirk has been skiing -- on both water and snow -- most of her life. She first noticed getting tired while slaloming on water skis, but it wasn't until a winter vacation to the long mountain ski runs in the Rockies that it hit her how far her endurance level had dropped.

"I couldn't keep up with everyone else," she said. "I had to stop halfway down and rest."

When she came home, she resolved to strengthen her leg, core and back muscles. She decided that lifting weights was the best approach, but she had a problem: 40 years ago when she was a teenager, "weight-lifting wasn't something they taught girls," she said. "I'd go into the free weight room at the health club and it would be all men who knew what they were doing."

Kirk, who lives in Eden Prairie, signed up for weight-lifting training at PowerSource Personal Training in Edina. Her motivation quickly shifted from skiing to learning.

"The educational aspect of learning something different is what kindled my interest," she said. "It felt really good to me to figure out that I could do it."

Although she didn't realize it, she also was preparing for a challenge that lay ahead. During the summer, doctors discovered lung cancer. An operation was followed by chemotherapy. Through it all, Kirk missed only one week of training.

"Obviously, I had to do easier exercises than I had been doing before," she said. "But I'm convinced that the reason I came through the surgery so well is because I was stronger."

She's no longer the one who can't keep up. While Kirk's college-age daughter was home over the holidays, she tagged along to the health club one day. When they got done, it was the youngster who was exhausted.

"Both my kids are pretty fit, and a big part [of her exhaustion] was that she was doing a routine that she wasn't used to," Kirk said. "Still, it was kind of fun to see her struggling to keep up with Mom."

Money matters

Like legions of others, Robin Swanson had made more fitness resolutions over the years than she could count. And not kept a one.

"I'd start, but then I'd always end up stopping," she said. And that was frustrating. "I really wanted to stick with it. I had to make a bigger commitment."

She came up with a really big one: Last January, she signed up for one-on-one training at PowerSource, and she paid for an entire year's worth of classes upfront.

"Once I'd made a signification financial commitment, I figured that I had to stick with it," she said. "Plus I discovered that having somebody waiting for me to show up was a very strong motivator."

It wasn't just that someone was waiting; it was when they were waiting. Swanson, 52, from Edina, signed up for training at 6 a.m. Knowing that her trainer was dragging herself out of a nice, warm bed in order to be there, she felt obligated to do the same.

At least, that was the case until June. "After about six months, I realized that my attitude had changed," she said. "I got up excited about going to class. I started to look forward to it."

She still does.

"It's become part of my regular routine now," she said. "It feels good. I'm done by 7 a.m., I've got the whole day ahead of me and I feel energized from the exercise."

  • about this series

  • Minnesota's guide to healthy living

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