There's only one month until the New Year, and most importantly, the declaration of New Year's resolutions.
Losing weight or getting fit is among the top goals for the new year, with these objectives usually failing within months. According to a 2012 University of Scranton study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, only 8 percent of people achieve their New Year's resolutions.
Nonspecific goals and being overzealous are factors into the high failure rate.
For Ed and Amanda Smith, achieving new fitness goals is all about changing the mindset.
They have been spearheading an annual event — New Year, New You — in Marshall, where Ed Smith is mayor, to help the community reclaim its health. This year's event will occur over the third weekend in January.
"We wanted to give people the tools to turn their health around," Smith said. "We've seen people get off of medicines because of the information we gave them."
The three-day seminar, which features renowned speakers who are experts in various health and fitness fields, emphasizes eating a plant-based diet.
But the Smiths, who have lived a vegan lifestyle for more than seven years, say the initiatives aren't about veganism only. They hope to encourage people to eat more whole foods and less meat in an effort to reverse chronic illnesses, lose weight and improve energy.
"You don't have to be vegan, but you need a whole food, plant-based diet for optimal health," Mrs. Smith said.
A whole foods, plant-based diet is one filled with foods that have had little or no processing, such as fresh fruits and vegetables. It's also devoid of excess salt, sugar and saturated fat — everything that is included in today's standard American diet.
"Every time people eat a meal like that they're waging a war on their bodies," Smith said.
They are proponents of taking care of health with proper nutrition and exercise instead of relying on medicines, which only treat symptoms.
It's been four years since they've established Get Healthy Marshall and the third year to host New Year, New You.
The first year, 140 people attended and by the second, 344 from 27 states and Canada were at the event.
They modeled their initiatives after a similar one developed by Whole Foods
Marshall set out to reduce health care costs among employees.
"If they can do it at the corporate level, then why can't we do it at the community level?" Smith recounted, asking. "This is the answer to our health care costs."
FINDING SOMETHING YOU LIKE
The Smiths said the key to creating meaningful change with health is to try something new. They said that once people have the tools it becomes easier.
"The New Year is the perfect opportunity to bring some lasting impact and change to your life," Smith said.
Getting to "a new you" may mean trying a new type of exercise. Each year, the American College of Sports Medicine releases what it believes will be the top 20 fitness trends for the New Year. At the top of the list this year is high-intensity interval training, or H.I.I.T.
"High-intensity interval training made its first appearance on this list this year," said Walter R. Thompson, the lead author of the survey, in a statement. "Its appearance in the top spot on the list reflects how this form of exercise has taken the fitness community by storm in recent months."
H.I.I.T. involves short bursts of activity, such as sprinting or jumping jacks, followed by a brief rest or recovery period.
Also new on the list this year is sport-specific training. Old favorites body weight training, yoga, personal training and strength training are among the activities included in the top 10 of the list.