Healthy Choices

New Year’s resolutions: Easier to make than keep?

Mayumi Acosta, 35, says her New Year’s resolution is to learn German and eat healthier.
Mayumi Acosta, 35, says her New Year’s resolution is to learn German and eat healthier. rbyer@sacbee.com

On the first weekend of 2015, the Sacramento Farmers Market under the freeway Sunday proved a comforting place to feed New Year’s resolutions, especially if they include maintaining a kinder, healthier lifestyle.

Alicia Cruz, 25, filled a big bag with rainbow chard, although eating healthy is just one of her personal goals for 2015.

“I want to have a less self-centered attitude and do things in a more selfless way without expecting anything in return,” said Cruz, who was inspired by “A Path Appears,” a new book by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn that discusses how one person can make a difference in the world.

So far this year, “I can honestly say I’ve been nicer to all the people I meet,” said Cruz, a freelance music reviewer who works at Pangaea Bier Cafe on Franklin Boulevard. “Just genuinely asking people how they’re doing makes a big difference. I realize the world is so much bigger than me.”

Nearly half of all Americans – 45 percent – usually make New Year’s resolutions, but 24 percent never succeed in keeping them, according to a recent University of Scranton study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology. And people in their 20s – 39 percent – are far more likely to keep their resolutions than those age 50 and up.

A survey of growers and shoppers at the Sunday market echoed some of those findings.

“I quit making resolutions 15 years ago,” said Mike Gustavson, 66, a health care worker carrying bags of oranges and tangerines. “I used to feel obligated to make resolutions, and then I got overwhelmed.”

Gustavson’s retreat is fairly common, according to the American Psychological Association, noting that broken resolutions, including unused gym memberships and failed diets, can increase your anxiety and sense of hopelessness.

Instead of taking on an exhaustive list of sweeping changes, the APA recommends setting small, attainable goals and incorporating healthy behaviors into your daily life, which will be more likely to produce positive results. Make your resolutions realistic, start small, change one behavior at a time, talk about your goals, ask for support and don’t beat yourself up when you slip.

“Minor missteps are completely normal. Don’t give up completely because you ate a brownie and broke your diet, or skipped the gym for a week because you were busy,” the APA advises. “Everyone has ups and downs. Resolve to recover from your mistakes and get back on track.”

Paula Kelso and Susan Kibbler, a mother-daughter team selling 10-pound bags of navel oranges harvested from their Black Gold Ranch in Oroville, haven’t given up on resolutions. “Every year I tell myself I’m going on a diet, spend less money and enjoy life more,” said Kelso, 78, decked out in a bright red cowboy hat. “I have a tendency to over-shop; instead of two pairs of shoes, you buy six because they’re on sale. The older you get, the more you have to take control of your life.”

Kibbler, 51, is resolved “to be happy and surround myself with positive people.” The farmers market, where she and her mother have been selling produce for more than three decades, is the perfect place to launch her New Year’s resolutions, she said. “Everybody’s here – all religions, races, creeds and colors – with a common goal: to eat good food,” Kibbler said. “There’s not too many angry people at the farmers market. They’re happy and healthy.”

At his produce stand a few stalls down, Oci Venegas, 49, was still feeling the effects of his New Year’s celebrations. “We ate a lot of pozole, tamales and menudo, and I resolved to lose some weight,” he said. “I’m cutting out beef, pork and a lot of fast food, including burritos ... Yesterday I ate salad with chicken.”

Losing weight was the top New Year’s resolution last year, according to the University of Scranton study. Overall, however, it found that only 46 percent maintained their resolutions past six months.

Mike Myers, 38, resolved to call his parents more often – his dad lives in Roseville and his mom resides in a cabin in the Tennessee woods. “I feel I should call my parents once a week and I’ve called them both since New Year’s,” said Myers, who worked the Cal Fresh booth helping low-income families use their food stamps. “My dad always wants me to have a full-time job with benefits, but those jobs don’t exist anymore, so I work three or four jobs.”

Family figured in many resolutions cited by those at Sunday’s market.

Thu Nguyen of Roseville, who was selling medjool dates with her husband, Henry, resolved to spend more time with her family, including her daughter, a social worker in Los Angeles. Nguyen, who said she resolved to eat healthy years ago, calls herself “a raw foodist. I don’t eat meat or any processed food, the fish I eat is rare, and dates are my only sugar.”

Howard Hansel, a Yuba City orchid grower, said his 2015 resolution is to share his secret of pruning (cut the stem when the flowers fall off), as well as proper lighting, watering and fertilizing. He warned one of his customers, Natomas resident Mayumi Acosta, about overwatering her orchids.

“I’m frustrated because my orchids always die,” said Acosta, a photographer who emigrated here from Colombia. Stocking up on organic kale, spinach, beets, sweet potatoes and multigrain bread “to get in better shape” this year, Acosta said she’s also resolved to learn German because her husband is from Austria.

While many at the market saw Jan. 1, 2015, as a new beginning, others saw it as just another day.

Standing at The Upper Crust Baking Co. booth, owner Trudy Kalisky, 71, who’s been married 50 years, declared, “I do not believe in resolutions. I just believe in living your life as you can, day by day.”

Call The Bee’s Stephen Magagnini, (916) 321-1072.

Top New Year’s resolutions in 2014

Last year, here’s what Americans said were their top resolutions, listed in order of importance:

1. Losing weight

2. Getting organized

3. Spending less and saving more

4. Enjoying life to the fullest

5. Staying fit and healthy

6. Learning something exciting

7. Quitting smoking

8. Helping others achieve their dreams

9. Falling in love

10. Spending more time with family

Source: University of Scranton, Journal of Clinical Psychology, statisticbrain.com

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