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The New Year's resolution solution

Part I of III: Physical and financial fitness
by: Jessica Gregg, Fitness consultant Kelly Kero chats with Sandy residents Cody Giusto, left, and Jeff Flood during a workout at Mt. Hood Athletic Club. Lifting weights isn't as important, though, as just making a habit of going to the gym.

Now that it's mid January, are you finding that those New Year's resolutions are getting more difficult? Are you still unsure how to accomplish them?

There are plenty of ways to honor your 2008 commitments with services and programs right here in the Sandy area:

Resolution: Lose weight, get fit, eat right

Solution: When people decide to embark on the most popular of New Year's resolutions - losing weight and taking overall better care of their bodies - Mt. Hood Athletic Club owner Lila Reed says most of the time, they come with unrealistic or unattainable expectations.

'We encourage members not to come in and blast themselves two hours a day, four times a week,' Reed said. 'Doing too much will train your brain not to enjoy coming to the club, and it that will associate it with work.'

Reed says a more manageable - and arguably successful - approach is to set a goal of just physically being at the club. That doesn't necessarily even mean you have to work out.

'We say get your body in the club two to three times a week. You could sit there, have a smoothie, watch CNN, take a swim and enjoy yourself in the steam room,' Reed said. 'What it does is train your brain into the habit of coming to the club.'

She says that once the pattern of coming to the club is established, members will begin to seek out the fitness opportunities, leading to the intended healthier lifestyle.

'Going in saying you're going to make this drastic change is almost doomed to fail,' Reed said. 'Creating that habit and making manageable steps works so much better in the long run.'

She said that in most cases, members usually start with one type of exercise - 'in most cases, walking' - and eventually they branch out when they get comfortable and curious.

Of course for some, the first step is checking out the club.

Mt. Hood Athletic Club has many programs going on, including a Biggest Loser program, a racquetball league for beginners and experienced players alike, swim lessons and Transitions - a specialized food and nutrition program.

Check out the full February-to-May program guide at the club or by calling 503-826-0565.

Looking for a slightly different experience? You can also work up a sweat with some movies at Celtic Spirit Yoga (503-819-0253) and for the ladies, at Curves for Women (503-668-0648).

Resolution: Pay off debt/save money

Solution: National finance guru Dave Ramsey says financial management is only 20 percent knowledge and 80 percent behavior. So to break the many bad habits that Americans develop - credit card use, lack of savings, overspending - Ramsey developed Financial Peace University, a 13-week video series held in communities across the country. Participants learn how to save money, live on a budget, communicate about money, eliminate debt, find bargains and experience the joy of giving.

Mark your calendars: Hoodland Lutheran Church (59151 E. Highway 26) in Brightwood will offer Ramsey's series to the community starting at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17. Interested parties may attend a preview day on either Sunday, Jan. 27, at noon, or at 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10.

'It just transforms the way you look at money,' said Hoodland Lutheran pastor Berry Scruggs, a former accountant.

Becky Buckelew, a Sandy resident who has taken and taught the class, says the series has changed her and many others' lives.

'It gives hope back to people bogged down with debt,' she said. 'A lot of people want to get out of debt, but they don't know how to start. We've paid off $24,000 in debt, and we're almost totally out of debt now, which is great because we want to retire within 10 years. It's a really great class that gives you basic, easy tools to use.'

Cost is about $100 per person. Everyone is welcome to attend. Call 503-622-3916 or visit www.daveramsey.com/fpu to learn more.