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WNY experts offer New Year's resolutions advice

Have you spent the last several weeks helping your loved ones to enjoy the holidays?

Providing foods and drinks you often avoid, and sampling quite a bit yourself? Running yourself ragged to get to every concert, party and special event? Spending too much money on gifts?

No judgment here.

“We see it a lot during the holidays, when you feel more responsible for taking care of other people,” said Aubree Shofner, group fitness instructor and personal trainer with Jada Blitz Training in Clarence. “New Year’s is kind of an excuse to say, ‘Hey, I’ll get back to taking care of myself.’ ”

That’s the idea, at least. Most of us have learned, however, that it can be hard to follow a New Year’s resolution for more than just a few weeks.

Successful resolutions are manageable, said Shofner and fellow Jada Blitz personal trainer Dan Jakielaszek. They start with a goal devised thoughtfully; something that can be broken down within a step-by-step structure. They involve an understanding that belief can turn to motivation and then action, which can lead to a favorable outcome over a realistic period of time.

“You can’t lose 20 pounds in a healthy, sustainable manner in a four-week period,” Shofner said. “We see a lot of quick fix plans these days and they’re not sustainable.”

Mindset, effort and persistence will count for those who truly want to turn a wish into real results, Jakielaszek said. Overcoming guilt will, too.

“Instead of using guilt as another excuse to digress, use it to start where you left off,” he said. “Yes, you’re going to make mistakes, but accepting that and moving forward from it, and learning from it, is really important. People who succeed have failed. It’s the fact that they got up again and went at it that they are successful.”

We asked several Western New York leaders in the health, fitness, nutrition and financial fields to offer worthy resolutions, and advice on how to accomplish them. Below are edited excerpts.

Resolve to better manage money in the new year

Whatever resolution you make, Cheryl Reddish, owner of Maximum Fitness Training in Amherst, encourages you to create a plan, stick with each step, and get help from an expert of your own where needed.

“If your desired resolution or goal doesn’t cost you something, it’s just a daydream,” she said. “Why are you waiting until Monday to get started? Do it today. To end with a successful resolution, you actually have to start.”


Resolutions need not be complicated. Jill Chiacchia, founder and director of the beHealthy Institute in Hamburg, recommends mindfully eating one meal a day. (Robert Kirkham/News file photo)

Jill Chiacchia, founder and director, beHealthy Institute in Hamburg

Resolution: Live a more balanced life

I resolve this year to balance myself at least once a day, sit down and eat completely a healthy meal, without distraction of TV, phone, work, driving, etc. Sitting down at a table (not standing or driving), chewing my food (not gulping it down without a thought) and enjoying it alone, or in joyful conversation with others, will at least put one part of my day in balance.

Dr. Anne Curtis

Dr. Anne Curtis, SUNY distinguished professor and chair, University at Buffalo Department of Medicine, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and president of UBMD Internal Medicine

Resolution: Walk more

If you find you have been too sedentary, figure out when you can fit in 10 minutes of walking to start. Can you walk the long way around the parking garage to get to your office? Can you do a couple of laps along the corridor of your building before lunch? Can you go for a short walk after dinner every night? Whatever you choose, make it a regular part of your day until it becomes an ingrained habit. Then either increase your time gradually to 30 minutes, or do your 10 minutes two or three times a day. Keeping with a program like this will help you sleep better, lose or maintain your current weight, be more alert, and have more energy.

Dr. Priyanka Patnaik, medical Director at UBMD Family Medicine at Conventus and a UB clinical assistant professor of family medicine

Dr. Priyanka Patnaik

Resolution: Take time to improve yourself

Take out one hour from your daily life to do just one thing to make it healthier. We could use that time to relax and let go of all the stress of work, maybe spend some time meditating or doing yoga. We could use that time to exercise, cook something healthy or spend with our friends and family. We get so busy with our day-to-day responsibilities that we do not realize the need for ourselves to relax. Remember, we can only help take care of others if we are capable, if we are healthy both physically and mentally.

Dr. Lisa Yerke, clinical assistant professor, Department of Periodontics and Endodontics, UB School of Dental Medicine and a member of University Dental Associates

Dr. Lisa Yerke

Resolution: Better oral care

We may not realize how important a daily ritual of oral hygiene is to our overall systemic health and well-being. Many of us floss to prevent tooth decay between our teeth. However, we also floss to prevent periodontal disease, which is the loss of the jaw bone and gums that support and stabilize our teeth. Many of those with periodontitis are not aware that they have it, since pain and tooth loss may not be obvious signs until the disease is very advanced, which can take years to decades. The bacteria-driven destruction of bone and supporting tooth structures that occur in periodontal disease creates a significant amount of bacterial byproducts and inflammatory factors that are released into the circulatory system and travel throughout the body, negatively impacting our overall well-being. For example, diabetics with periodontitis have greater difficulty maintaining glycemic control. To make matters worse, periodontal disease has also been associated with heart disease, obesity, asthma, esophageal and gastric cancer, prostate cancer, allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, and stress, among others. Our overall health, so closely tied with our oral health, requires a conscious daily effort.

Patrick Jones, lead pastor, Eastern Hills Wesleyan Church, Clarence

Pastor Patrick Jones

Resolution: Read scripture

Big changes begin with little disciplines. What if we could change the trajectory of our thinking and attitude in only a few minutes per day? Would that be worth it to us, even if we doubt the source of the help? Our thinking involves wisdom, or the right application of knowledge. The book of Proverbs in the Bible is all about wisdom. It has 31 chapters. If we read just one chapter per day for the average month, it could help us live a wiser life. The book of 1 John, near the end of the New Testament, zeroes in on love; the love God has for us and the love we can have toward others. It has five chapters. If we read a chapter per day, it will change our attitude in how we handle ourselves and how we respond to others.


Catherine Cook Cottone says yoga is a stress buster as well as fitness booster. (Sharon Cantillon/News file photo)

Catherine Cook-Cottone, UB associate professor of school psychology, certified yoga instructor and founder of Yogis in Service

Resolution: Add yoga to your life

1. Basics first: Most studios have basics classes and a beginner’s series. If you’d like to attend a free class, try

2. Find a friend: Buddy up to explore studios. Go for coffee or tea and create a game plan to try one a week for a while.

3. Look for karma or donation classes: Most studios offer them. Often you pay what you can afford, say $5 to $10. The fee goes to a cause the studio is supporting.

4. Schedule ahead: Take time on a Sunday to choose and schedule classes.

5. Fear not: All those Instagram and Facebook photos of 20-somethings in scant clothing doing the splits? Fake news. Find a body safe class/studio. People of all shapes, sizes, and ages love yoga.

6. Be prepared: You will need a mat (most studios have rentals), water, and a hand towel. Fancy and expensive clothes are not required (although they can be fun to buy and wear). Wear something you can take a good stretch in and that is OK for sweating.

7. Find the right fit: Yoga and yoga studios vary substantially. Some are room temperature, some warmer, some hot. Some flow with a lot of moving from the floor to standing, and some do not. Some are physically demanding, while others are restorative and gentle. There is no right or wrong in yoga, just the right class for you.

8. Know your why: Anything that stress makes worse, yoga can help make it better. Through movement, breathing, and focus you will learn reaction patterns to settle your system. I tell people that it is a stress management program with a side effect of physical fitness.

Printable checklist for how to choose a gym


Dan Jakielaszek, a personal and group fitness instructor with Jada Blitz Training in Clarence, says weight loss resolutions need to be realistic. (John Hickey/Buffalo News)

Dan Jakielaszek, personal and group fitness instructor, Jada Blitz, Clarence

Resolution: Lose 10 pounds in six to eight weeks

A human body can only handle losing a certain amount of weight in a short period. For example, losing 5 pounds in one week is going to be way too much for anybody to maintain over the long run. Break down the goal weight loss into smaller increments in order to sustain the weight you would like to achieve. Realize the time and effort it takes in order to reach the goal. From there, the activity level and type of workouts should conform to the individual. Find a gym that can help reach the goal with personal training, nutrition and equipment. A schedule needs to be something the individual can manage. The last step is to perform.

WNY trainer: 4 reasons you're not seeing diet and workout results


Deanna DeSimone, certified precision nutrition coach, UBMD Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine

Deanna Desimone

Resolution: Eat healthier

1. Baby steps: Don’t try to change everything at once, or you’ll be setting yourself up for disappointment. Daily health decisions add up over time.

2. Identify your SMART goals: These are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. For example, “I will pack my lunch four times a week, and eat out once.” “I will add ½ cup of vegetables to my dinner every night.” “I will lose 15 pounds of fat and gain 5 pounds of muscle by June.”

3. Track your progress: Once you identify your goal, decide on method of tracking. I suggest my clients keep a food diary or use a goal-tracking app like Productive-Habit Tracker or Done: A Simple Habit Tracker.

4. Don’t punish yourself: We all slip up, even those of us in the nutrition business. When you fall off course, commit to getting back on course.

5. Reward yourself: If you stick to your habit for a month, reward yourself. Buy a new juicer, get a 30-minute massage, or try a new workout class. You deserve it!

6. Continue seeking inspiration: A Google or Instagram search for “nutritionist recipes” will yield a variety of results. I also suggest “following” fitness instructors and nutritionists on social media if they serve as a reminder of your individual goals.

Carol DeNysschen, chair and professor, SUNY Buffalo State Department of Health, Nutrition and Dietetics

Carol DeNysschen, a registered dietitian, shops with her children, Jenna left, and Ashley for healthy school snacks at Orchard Fresh market in Orchard Park. (Harry Scull Jr./News file photo)

Resolution: Balance your calorie intake with calorie expenditure

Weight management is all about calories in versus calories out, and making smart decisions on what you are going to choose to eat.

1. Read food labels and information: The FDA has a wonderful webpage on how to read food labels and determine serving sizes and macronutrients such as protein, carbohydrate and fat content. The food label even tells you percent daily values are recommended based on a 2,000-calorie diet (average standard of daily calorie intake) for the typical American. Visit

2. Learn what serving/portion sizes are meant to be: Use measuring tools (cups and scales) until you get used to the visual of what a normal serving size is per food label. Once you start measuring, you will soon learn how much a true serving looks like on a plate, or in a bowl or glass.

3. Keep a log of what, when and how much you eat: Successful weight loss and weight management programs typically involve decreasing (or matching) your energy intake and with your energy expenditure using self-monitoring techniques. There are many free tools to help, including and Even logging your intake with paper and pen can show you a lot about how much you eat, when you eat and triggers that may cause you to overeat. Strive for four to five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables daily.

4. Avoid drinking your calories: A 16-ounce Frappuccino can pack on over 400 calories and 45 percent of your daily saturated fat recommendation. Stick with water or tea instead.



Twitter: @BNrefresh, @ScottBScanlon

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