New Year, Newer You

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The time has come once again to vow a change for the better. Every Jan. 1, people all over the world make promises and deals with themselves and to others that they will start saving money, eat healthier and exercise more. But most New Year’s resolutions are broken a mere two weeks after they are made. In fact, Michael D. Peltzman, PsyD, BCFM of Upper Brookville said that only 46 percent of people keep their resolutions past six months, and only 20 percent have a lifespan of two years or more. And people have plenty of excuses as to why. But the main reason, said Dr. Peltzman, is that the resolvers do not have the right information they need to keep them.

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Dr. Michael Peltzman

“In order to make a permanent lifestyle change, you always have to examine the underlying emotional and psychological issues,” he said. “New Year’s resolutions are more often impromptu and spur of the moment statements. In order for a resolution to be successful it requires introspection, thought and desire.”

Peltzman recommends making a grid on a piece of paper with the words “change” and “ don’t change” across the top and “pros” and “cons” along the side with your particular resolution in mind.

“Fill out the grid and then do the math. If the pros of change and the cons of the status quo have greater weight than their counterparts, the balance tips towards ‘go,’” said Peltzman. “If you need to cultivate your will, then try picking a different resolution.”

Peltzman said the biggest mistake people make when breaking a resolution is to falsely believe that one error in behavior has ruined or voided all of their effort.

“Occasional lapses should be viewed as a temporary setback,” said Peltzman. “Before you make a resolution, introspectively examine if this change in behavior is beneficial to you longterm. Secondly, ensure that the idea was your own and not motivated by someone else you’re trying to appease.”

Peltzman often sees people give the excuse of stress, not enough sleep, not enough time and placing the blame on others instead of examining their own shortcomings.

“Failure to achieve your resolution can often be psychologically harmful because it can lower your self-esteem and concurrently rob you of a sense of control,” said Peltzman. “Motivation, desire and commitment have to be realistically assessed
in light of one’s lifestyle, obligations and preparedness.”

Andrew Guidice
Andrew Guidice

Financial Resolutions:
One of the most popular promises people make for the New Year is to resolve to save more money. Andrew Guidice of Massapequa Park, an investment associate at Fiduciary Trust Company International in Manhattan, recommends first analyzing the role
that finance plays in your daily life. While saving money is the obvious goal and is sometimes easier said than done, Guidice also encourages his clients to not spend more than they make.

“Set up a weekly transfer from your checking to savings account to slowly build up a savings,” he said. “Don’t acquire credit card debt. Take a portion of your paycheck and move it into a retirement account before it hits your checking account.”

Tips To Save Money This Year
1. Save for your retirement: Compounding interest is very powerful, especially over 30 or 40 years.
2. Never carry credit card debt.
3. Take advantage of low mortgage rates and purchase real estate: Understand the importance of diversification among stocks/bonds/cash/other investments.
4. Don’t spend frivolously.
5. When investing, know your time horizon: When will you need the money? What is your risk tolerance? Are you willing to lose it all?

He also said to buy domestically focused stock mutual funds. “Because by investing a small portion of your savings, you are investing in American companies, which have proven to return value to shareholders for over 100 years,” said Guidice.

But to understand the first step in where your money is going, he recommends simple solutions that are easy to try, including cooking meals at home, brewing your own coffee and limiting your alcohol intake, as those everyday items can add up quickly.
“Rethink those big purchases. If you have one or two months where you spend out of your desired limit, it is always easy to get deterred and get off track,” said Guidice. “Look for zero percent financing or retailers that allow you to pay in installments—without interest—in order to avoid taking on a large expense on any given month.”

According to Guidice, the best thing for people to do is to speak to someone about their financial future. “Talk to a friend or family member that you respect or a financial professional because it’s hard to go at it alone,” he said. “Bounce ideas, like saving or investment or big purchase ideas off these people. It’s always good to talk about your decisions out loud and get some honest feedback.”

Christina Sabatino, RD
Christina Sabatino, RD

Diet Resolutions:
For those who want to lose weight, it is crucial to start small. Wantagh resident Christina Sabatino, MS, RD, CDN at St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn is trying to wean her clients off the word “diet” and have them focus on a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, today’s society has associated New Year’s resolution with diets, which Sabatino believes should not be a goal.

“The goal should be for sustainable lifestyle changes, changes you can make to your daily routine that will last and be beneficial for the rest of your life,” she said. “Don’t fall victim to fads like detox diets or juice cleanses. Those are costly gimmicks that yield nothing but temporary satisfaction and, most of time, leave you feeling hopeless and hungry.”

Sabatino believes that people break resolutions because they were not perfect or made a mistake. Instead, she recommends forgiving yourself and getting back on track.

“There is no such thing as failure when it comes to making healthy lifestyle changes. Being fit is not a destination; it’s a way of life,” she said. “Don’t forget to reward yourself for your accomplishments, but use something other than food.”

She suggests rewards like flowers, new sneakers, a movie or a weekend trip.

Sabatino believes that resolutions are difficult to maintain because seeing results is a slow process.

“Slow and steady changes are key to staying on track for healthy nutrition intake and remaining physically active,” she said. “Set yourself up for success. If you want to eat less processed food then don’t keep it in the house. If you’d like to cut down on commercial high-calorie coffees, stop refilling your coffee card.”

As long as people are willing to make a lifestyle alteration, Sabatino believes it doesn’t matter how old you are to make a change. The food, however, is monumental.

Tips To Approach A Nutrition Resolution
1. Be a mindful eater: Eating an extra 100 calories each day can add up 10 pounds a year. Eat slower and truly enjoy your food.
2. Do not eat out of the bag or straight out of the container. Always put your serving into a separate bowl so you can see how much you’re actually consuming.
3. Introduce healthy creations at parties: you’ll know for sure that there will be a healthy option and others can try it too.
4. Plan time for physical activity: Organize an activity at holiday gatherings/special occasions to get both kids and adults involved.

“In order to get back on track, the best foods to eat are those found in nature: fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, nuts, eggs and dairy products,” said Sabatino. “I discourage people from ‘cheating’ on their nutritional plans because it’s really about being a better you, not a perfect you.”

Father Kevin Dillon exercises in the metabolic class  at Rock Your Body Fitness. (Photo by Jennifer Fauci)
Father Kevin Dillon exercises in the metabolic class
at Rock Your Body Fitness.
(Photo by Jennifer Fauci)

Fitness Resolution:
Another popular resolution of the New Year is vowing to get fit and exercise more. Michael Salvietti, owner and founder of Rock Your Body Transformation Center in Mineola, spends everyday helping his clients achieve their health and fitness goals.

“I have been a fitness professional for seven years and am a metabolic training specialist, working primarily with people who want to look and feel better,” said Salvietti. “I certainly think that when done correctly, the process of setting goals for the New Year is attainable. But you shouldn’t wait for the New Year to make positive changes.”

When making a resolution involving fitness, Salvietti said it is crucial to look at the underlying issue or patterns for the past year.

“I always ask myself three questions: What habits do I need to start doing? What habits do I need to stop doing? And what habits do I need to continue and expand on doing to make this a
reality?” said Salvietti. “I think the hardest part is circumstantial and depends on the person. For me, it’s keeping track of progress along the way.”

For Father Kevin Dillon, a Catholic priest assigned to St. Aidan’s in Williston Park and one of Salvietti’s clients, it was about getting back to a healthy weight.

“I enjoy working out,” said Dillon, who became an ordained priest in 2003. “It was late January of 2012 and my clothes started to feel uncomfortable. I also had issues with my back.”

Dillon is enrolled in the gym’s metabolic classes, which also provide nutritional information, one of the many reasons Dillon likes coming to Salvietti.

“What I like best about Rock Your Body is that there is accountability. If you’re not here for a while, Mike and the other instructors will call you and check on you,” said Dillon. “Anyone can come here because the instructors tailor the workout for that individual.”

Dillon now exercises five times a week and has been a member since February 2012. He reached his goal weight and is currently maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle.

“We have to be patient with ourselves and accept that change doesn’t happen overnight,” Dillon said.

As a fitness professional, Salvietti focuses on the hard data like weight, body fat percentage and inches lost. But stresses that it is also very important to have realistic expectations going in.

“All of my clients’ exercise programs are designed to meet them exactly where they are at right now, which is entirely based on their goals, time restraints, nutrition expectation and what they are physically capable of doing,” said Salvietti.

Tips To Approach A Fitness Resolution
1. Plan: In order to accomplish a goal, you need a game plan of how you are going to do it.
2. Do: What is a good plan if you don’t follow through with it?
3. Review: What were you able to follow through with on your plan and what were you unable to accomplish. Figure out what you had a hard time with and why.
4. Improve: Don’t just keep making the same mistakes over and over again. Look at your review and make the necessary improvements.

Now that you are armed with information, forget about New Year’s resolutions. Just make sensible changes that can take you through 2015 and beyond for a healthy and financially stable lifestyle.

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