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Dr. Joti Samra talks to The Province Newspaper about New Year’s Resolutions

(By Susan Lazaruk, The Province)


A large group of Vancouverites may be too a) lazy b) cynical or c) fit already; 42 per cent of people surveyed said they have no plans to make a fitness resolution for 2014.


And 15 per cent of respondents to the Ipsos Reid survey admitted they’ll formally resolve to get fitter, knowing full well they won’t be able to keep the promise to themselves anyway.


New Year’s, conveniently positioned after a month or two of daily chocolates and sweets, extra boozing and an average holiday meal clocking in at a whopping 3,500 calories, according to the pollsters, is ideal for hitting the health reset button.


The online survey, commissioned by fitness equipment supplier Fitness Town, found Vancouverites aren’t keen to make formal resolutions, but it helpfully noted new habits can be formed in as little as three weeks.


That means we can shed the 1.5 to four pounds a typical North American gains between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, according to the poll, in time for St. Valentine’s Day.


An acronym to help you remember how to make those resolutions “S.M.A.R.T.” is to ensure they’re Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-limited, according to Vancouver clinical psychologist Dr. Joti Samra.


“The biggest mistake we make is we are overly ambitious, setting loftier goals that are unattainable and we end up getting frustrated,” she said.


“None of us are able to make large changes in behaviour overnight, we’re not hardwired that way,” said Samra.


For instance, rather than vowing to just “lose weight” or shed 100 pounds before 2015, she suggested setting a goal of 10 to 15 pounds and breaking that down to a pound or so a month.


And like the old joke about how many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb (just one, but it really has to want to change), people have to ask themselves if they’re ready to change.


If you’re quitting smoking for your spouse instead of yourself, you’re more likely to fail, she said.


It also helps to tell someone your resolution.


“We become more accountable when we verbalize our goals,” said Samra.


Before you resolve to be a better you, here’s a list of last-minute family-friendly New Year events:


Robson Square ice rink: Fifth annual celebration includes skating, live music by Rumba Calzada, DJs (8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.), cookie decorating, and an early 7 p.m. countdown with noisemakers, glowsticks. Rink open 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.; party kicks off at 4 p.m. Free.


Family First Night at Mt. Seymour’s Snowplay Park and Enquist Lodge, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., features tobogganing, entertainment by clowns Tickles and Yowza, fire pits, fire spinning by Vesta Fire Entertainment, hot apple cider and smores, fireworks and early 9 p.m. countdown. Admission is $10 (children one year and younger free), an extra $5 for tobogganing (bring own sled).


Stanley Park Bright Lights is a chance to ride the miniature train (for a fee) and take in festivities on the plaza (admission by donation).


Festival of Lights at Van Dusen Botanical Garden, featuring over one million Christmas lights, from 4:30 to 9 p.m. Admission fee.


Note: TransLink services are free from 5 p.m. on Dec. 31 until 5 a.m. Jan. 1.

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