The gyms are bursting with eager patrons, the produce aisles are noticeably empty, workout gear flies off the shelves….it must be January 2nd, when New Year’s resolutions begin with unwavering enthusiasm! Unfortunately, when the parties are over, the weather is dreary, and the holiday bills come in (no wonder “Blue Monday” falls on January 15th!), the pendulum often shifts back to its pre-resolution level. To help you stay well in January and beyond, we asked local well-being experts for their best tips and advice. Here’s what they had to say.
Rena Bruckman is co-owner of Thrive Psychotherapy & Nutrition, an outpatient practice specializing in eating disorder treatment. She finds New Year’s resolutions often fraught with “shoulds,” pressure to make drastic changes, and the cultural obsession of being at a lower weight, regardless of present health status. “I focus on adding, not omitting,” says Bruckman. She recommends experimenting with flavor using new spices, trying different cultural cuisines, and embracing new food experiences. “Tune into what you are craving as well as your hunger and fullness cues, so you can let yourself enjoy food when you are hungry and stop when you are full.”
What does Rena do? “I cook foods, I prepare foods, I grow foods, I enjoy eating foods with health – of ourselves and our planet – in mind. I focus on what I’m in the mood for. Spanakopita with a big Greek salad and warm pita bread are a currently on my menu.”
Wendy Boscia is a local favorite, with deep community roots. She teaches meditation, yoga, and well-being retreats at Basil Yoga, where she helps clients tune out the external pressures and tune in alignment with something deeper. “I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions,” Boscia says, “I encourage clients to find and stick with a daily practice. It could be meditation, yoga, nature walks, breathwork. It doesn’t have to be anything big, simply a ritual to cultivate something greater.”
What does Wendy do? “I start each morning with prayer and use it as an opportunity to step into the present moment, quiet the storytelling part of my mind, and create an intention to guide my day because I believe our intentions become our actions.”
Niro Feliciano LCSW is an anxiety specialist, author, and frequent Today Show guest who has been practicing in the 068 for 18 years. Pointing out that more than 80% of resolutions fail, Feliciano suggests setting intentions, which are more sustainable. “We often work backward, starting with actions. I encourage people to begin with identity: Who is the person you want to be? Once you know that, you can choose which habits support your growth and which to eliminate.” She recommends people write their motivational statements on sticky notes and strategically place them in high-visibility areas for a regular reminder of what you are working toward.
What does Niro do? “What I need more than anything, especially as a working mom with 4 kids ages 10 and up is to protect my mental bandwidth. For me, that comes in the form of prayer, meditation, and silence, which I make time for every day.”
Ari Karp owns Steel Fitness, a small-group personal training facility in Ridgefield. His perspective on New Year’s resolutions is to not make any. “Don’t wait for a certain time of year to start – just start,” says Karp. “Health is not about looking a certain way, it’s about moving better and feeling better.” Karp recommends finding a form of physical activity that brings joy and incorporates an element of play. “Clients come to my gym for the training and stick with it for the community and camaraderie,” he said. “We support and motivate each other – and have fun while doing it.”
What does Ari do? “In addition to strength training, I ensure I get enough sleep, which is good for recovery. Sleep is one of the biggest things the science world is talking about. Working out is the stimulus to get things going, but knowing when to rest is most important.”
Gail Fennell PT is celebrating her 10th year owning CT Scoliosis and Spine Rehab in Ridgefield. She encourages people to use the New Year as a time to stop, reassess, set goals, and create a plan. “I help people who are in pain, which prevents them from going about their daily tasks,” says Fennell. “I encourage people to start with small, realistic movement goals they can incorporate into their every day.” Fennell recognizes that sticking with exercise can be a challenge, so she suggests creating a checklist and recruiting a friend.
What does Gail do? “Something I do every day for my health is what animals do instinctively: stretch. ‘Snooze button stretches’ is what I call my simple morning wake-up routine that pairs light stretches targeting specific muscles with deep breathing, which is vital to all of our systems.”