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Tackling those resolutions for 2008

New Year’s resolution: A commitment that an individual makes to a project or a habit, often a lifestyle change, that is generally interpreted as advantageous.

Does this term and its definition apply to you this year?

The tradition of New Year’s resolutions is ancient, dating all the way back to 153 B.C. when Janus, a mythical king of early Rome, was placed at the head of the calendar. With two faces, Janus could look back on past events and forward to the future, and thus became the ancient symbol for resolutions.

Though New Year’s resolutions vary greatly from individual to individual, certain categories tend to pop up time and again. Following is a typical set of 10 New Year’s resolutions:

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  • Exercise more
  • Improve diet
  • Change careers or start a new one
  • Spend more time with family & friends
  • Enjoy life more
  • Quit smoking or drinking
  • Get out of debt
  • Learn something new
  • Help others
  • Get organized

Topping the New Year’s resolution wish list of most this year is the desire to lead a healthier lifestyle, which typically involves exercising more and/or eating less, or, if not less, at least more wisely. Concerning food, Vicky Newman, M.S., R.D., a nutritionist for Moores UCSD Cancer Center who works in cancer prevention and control, noted combing proper diet with exercise is the equation to achieve improved health. “We really encourage people to try and get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, even if it’s just brisk walking, six days out of seven.”
Newman encourages people to “eat food, not food products.”

“What that means is get back to basics,” she said, “stop buying things out of packages.”

Newman employs a simple catch phrase, “bold color, bold taste,” to advise people on what they should eat. “Nature draws you to the foods that give you the most protection or health-promotion factors,” she said, “deep orange and purple colors. Put those on your plate, not browns and whites.”

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Newman also encourages people to eat more slowly, so they’ll feel full and won’t have food cravings. And, above all else, don’t forget to exercise. Said Newman: “Remember, cardiovascular (excercise that moves heart and blood) is what delivers the nutrients to the body and takes away the waste products.”

Getting fit doesn’t necessarily mean joining a gym. There are lots of other exercise choices, such as bicycling. “It’s a no-brainer,” said Joshua Holder of California Bicycle, Inc. at 7462 La Jolla Blvd. “It’s one of the best ways to see the beauty of San Diego. It’s low-impact. You can set your own limits. In a gym you’re sitting in the same spot. But on a bike the scenery is constantly changing. If you’ve never ridden a bicycle - it’s an experience that you don’t forget.”

Holder noted you can spend as little as $300, or as much as you want, to get as serious as you want with cycling.

For Bird Rock personal trainer Brian Balcher, owner of Funxion Fitness at 5701 La Jolla Blvd., the key to becoming more fit is to do it gradually. Balcher offered this advice: “Losing weight and getting fitter is always on the list of New Year’s resolutions. Most people will go on radical diets instead of doing a lifestyle change. What people need to do, instead of doing an about-face, is do little bits at a time, rather than go on a cram workout regime or diet that doesn’t last more than two weeks.

People also need to set realistic goals for themselves. “If you don’t” said Balcher, “you never achieve them, and you set yourself up for failure. People need to have that ‘big’ goal, and then have smaller milestones they can achieve on the way to reaching the final goal.”

Today, leading a healthier lifestyle for some means not only concentrating more on what they eat, but on how it’s produced. Increasingly, consumers are opting for organically grown foods free of fertilizers, pesticides and other chemical byproducts.

“I would say it’s a trend, the way people are headed,” said Ted Baker, associate store team leader at Whole Foods Market La Jolla at 8825 Villa La Jolla Drive.

The Whole Foods chain carries as many as 170 different organic items in its stores, which points to a sea change in consumer’s buying habits. “It’s evolutionary,” noted Jason Gierson, marketing supervisor at Whole Foods. “It has become mainstream. Kids are now growing up eating organic foods.”

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Jonathans La Jolla at 7611 Fay Ave. is another grocer in the Jewel that finds itself catering more and more to the organic, health-conscious consumer. “We carry a lot of healthier products, like our meat department which doesn’t have any chemicals or anything in our beef, or our poultry section where we only carry free-range eggs, noted Troy Quick, Jonathans store manager. He said, “There are a lot of other categories in our store where we sell products with a healthier edge.”

Career choice, either altering course or changing direction all together, is also high on many people’s New Year’s to-do lists. Rosanna Indie, director of community relations in San Diego for www.jobing.com, suggests job seekers do a careful self-analysis to determine what they want out of a profession and where their job skills lie.

“Learn about yourself,” counseled Indie, “about your strengths, what you like to do. Identify certain goals for yourself, whether it be a promotion or a complete career change. Find out what you like to do. Remember, though, that people actually only like about 75 to 80 percent of what they do on a job, whether they’re the CEO or the receptionist.”

Sometimes, pointed out Indie, a job seeker can find out where their job skills truly are just by looking deeply enough into themselves. “Maybe they can determine a new career choice by evaluating what they like to do on their time off,” she said, “like working with small children or pets or volunteering for non-profits.”

Indie said job seekers should thoroughly research their job skills and understand their abilities, do research on the firm they’re interested in becoming a part of and follow-through once the interview phase is completed. “If you practice those three steps,” she said, “you’ll be in a better place to maybe land that perfect job.”