OGDEN -- When trying to improve your life, what's best, baby steps or giant leaps?
Rhonda Lauritzen, Ogden-Weber Tech vice president of student services and a popular motivational speaker at the school's Student Success Center, is a giant leap kind of woman.
"I heard about a great study five or six years ago where people who were unhealthy were told by their doctors they had to change their lifestyle or they would die," Lauritzen said. "Almost everybody was unable to stick to lifestyle changes, but one group succeeded, and it was the group that made the most dramatic changes."
Lauritzen said big changes, in this case to an active, low-fat, plant-rich diet, gave quick results that increased stamina and garnered compliments from friends.
"People told them they looked amazing, and it gave them vitality and made them want to stick to it," Lauritzen said, of the patients in the study.
"My take-away lesson from that is when you make a goal, make one big enough to inspire you. If you set a goal of going to the gym three times a week, that's not exciting enough. The goals I see working for me and for other people are more like 'I'm going to run my first 5K.'aa"
Lauritzen's multiyear goal was to write a book about her parents' lives as pioneers in the natural health movement of the 1960s. She expects the book, titled "Every Essential Element," to be available in February.
Lauritzen said everyone has bad days, but it's important to get back on track for your goals rather than wallow in defeat.
And one more thing: Resolutions are great any time of year, when inspiration strikes.
If you can't think of an exciting New Year's resolution, don't make one that leaves you bored.
"Don't feel obligated to make a resolution just because of the holiday," she said. "If you do, there's not a high likelihood of succeeding. But if fresh starts and New Year's do make you feel optimistic, pick a goal you feel passionate about."
Several area residents agreed to share their 2012 goals with the Standard-Examiner:
SBlt "My resolution is to read a book on the way to school, on the bus. It's a nice commute. I've already started, with 'The Time of Our Lives,' by Tom Brokaw. I want to try to reconnect with the larger world, and understand what's going on. Last year I didn't make any resolutions. I was dead set against them. I didn't make any, so I didn't fail. But this year I want a goal."
-- Jeff Robbins, 26, Kaysville
SBlt "When I was in college I started an art photography project, and I want to finish it. I've got to take more images, do the construction and find a gallery. It's a photographic journey through life, and what happens to different people. Finishing it is a resolution and it's on my bucket list.
"Also, I want to exercise every day. That was also my resolution last year, and I totally did not do it. This year I want to stick to it.
-- Noel Wilkinson, 28, Ogden
* "I'm going to read 100 books in a year, and blog about them, in Spanish (at www.unamujerdefe.blogspot.com). My one rule is I can't read a book I've previously read. It's going to be a challenge for me, but I've always loved to write."
-- Lori Taylor, 42, Riverdale
* "I want to pass all my classes. I'm taking 17 hours (at Weber State University) and I work full time. Last year I resolved to go to the gym every morning, and I did not, 5 a.m. is too early. This year my goal is to go more often than not."
-- Courtney McDonald, 19, Ogden
* "My resolution is to quit smoking. I've tried before, but I'm committed this year, and having the drive is the first step. I'm doing it for my mom, who died of breast cancer, and for my girlfriend and for myself."
-- Douglas Mullikin, 23, Ogden
* "I'd like to lose weight, maybe 10 or 15 pounds. I've already started to eat heathier. I had the same resolution last year, but I didn't keep it. But this year I have already started."
-- Andrea Salcedo, 19, Roy
* "I would like to quit smoking. I'm already working out, running and exercising. I've prepped my body, so I hope it will be easier to quit. I need to find a good hobby, to focus on instead of smoking. I'd like to establish a more healthy lifestyle. I didn't have any resolutions last year. I smoked and drank."
-- Christopher Todd, 22, Ogden