How to maintain your New Year’s resolutions on Grounds

The two most popular New Year’s resolutions pertain to improving health


Exercising with others is a tactic that can be used to create a consistent workout schedule.

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The start of a new year is often characterized by making resolutions. According to a survey published by Inc., the most common New Year’s resolutions made this year were to exercise more and eat healthier.  

Although nearly 60 percent of people make New Year’s resolutions, only eight percent successfully follow through with their resolutions. 

Studies completed by Benjamin Converse, assistant professor of public policy and psychology, have shown that when people set goals at temporal boundaries — the beginning of the week, month or year — they tend to focus on the outcomes and benefits of accomplishing their goals  rather than the details of implementing their goals.  

Setting realistic goals, being consistent, and sticking to a schedule are important to successfully implementing a workout plan, according to Joaquin Ortiz de Zevallos, a Ph.D. student in the Applied Metabolism and Physiology Laboratory who coaches marathon runners and triathletes.

Exercising with others is a tactic that can be used to create a consistent workout schedule. Converse said that a social commitment increases the likelihood that an individual will follow through with their plan, making the activity more valuable.

Many student-run organizations like the Barbell Club at U.Va., Outdoors at U.Va. and dance groups at the University offer unique ways to both exercise and socialize with other students. 

“The most valuable thing that our club has to offer is companionship,” said Kai Rossbach, fourth-year College student and vice president of the Barbell Club at U.Va. 

Because those who resolve to exercise more on New Year’s often give up after a couple of weeks, Rossbach encourages his peers to work out with a friend so that they can be held accountable to their fitness goals.

Outdoors at U.Va. demonstrated its commitment to healthy and active living by organizing over 200 trips last semester and welcoming more than 550 new members. Membership to the club is open to anyone affiliated with the University — as well as members of the local community — and people are welcome to join at any time.

Members of this club organize activities such as hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, trail-running and kayaking. This semester, a “Winter Weekend Extravaganza” in Snowshoe, W.Va. and a Spring Break trip to Moab, Utah are scheduled.

“We have a culture of unrelenting inclusivity, healthy living, healthy thinking and environmental conscientiousness,” said Jeremiah Reilly, an Outdoors Club member who graduated from the College in 2017.

Additionally, students can join dance organizations like the University Dance Club, Salsa Club, Ballroom Dance Club and Tap Club this spring.

“Our arms are always open to new members,” said Nicole White, second-year Engineering student and president of Tap Club. “Our goal is to have fun while getting the benefits of a good workout.”

The University’s Intramural-Recreation Sports offers an assortment of on-grounds recreational resources and activities. There are four facilities with workout equipment, indoor basketball courts, two pools, indoor tracks, a combat room and a rock climbing gym. 

The current rock climbing gym is new to the University as of this fall. This climbing gym offers bouldering and top-rope climbing, free rental climbing shoes and an interactive LED tension board that allows you to choose from hundreds of different routes. 

The climbing gym was relocated to Slaughter Recreation Center, making it closer to first-year dorms.

“I think it’s important that it is convenient for first-years,” said Drew Rollins, a second-year College student and resident advisor for the Shannon House. Going to the rock climbing center is “a way to build community and make new friends,” which is an important part of the first-year experience, according to Rollins. 

All current full-time students are considered members of IM-Rec Sports. For others affiliated with the University who are interested in trying out the facilities, there is a free one-week membership available. 

Besides exercise, a healthy diet also contributes to an individual’s well-being and can be difficult to maintain when returning to Grounds. 

If students are interested in eating healthier, they can contact Student Health’s Office of Health Promotion to schedule an appointment with a Peer Health Educator. 

“PHEs provide casual, non-judgemental and confidential spaces and empower students to learn about general healthy eating, develop nutritional goals and prioritize healthy habits,” according to Jamie Leonard, the Student Health director of Health Promotion and Wellbeing. 

When it comes to dieting, Converse said that people cannot easily exert self-control at every turn. Instead, he advises individuals to exercise proactive self-control, such as avoiding driving by unhealthy restaurants on the way home or not buying junk food at the grocery store. 

Oftentimes, mindful eating can begin with small changes like learning a new way to cook, buying healthy alternatives at grocery stores and dining at restaurants that offer healthy options as opposed to restricting all unhealthy foods.

For students with meal plans, U.Va. Dining offers a nutritionist, Paula Caravati, who works with students on making healthy food choices at the dining halls.

“There are no good or bad foods, just poor or unplanned choices,” said Caravati. “Moderation helps you to accommodate all foods and maintain a healthy body.”

A key to making changes to diet and exercise habits is knowing what tendencies and barriers may stand in the way of reaching a goal. 

For students, this means getting into the “mindset of where [you] are in the middle of the semester,” according to Converse. A student’s state in the middle of the semester in the midst of midterms and assignments is more representative of their average self, rather than their state at beginning or end of the semester. 

“Then, set that version of yourself up for success,” Converse said.

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