Before You Buy that Gym Membership…

a gym full of equipment

New Year’s resolutions are famous for being short lived. Reviewing our failings of the past year, we resolve to do better. We make a list of things we are going to do differently, and we get off to a blazing start, then fizzle out.

Some sobering facts about the purchase of gym memberships at the beginning of each year include the following:

  • 80% of people who buy gym memberships in January drop out before five months have passed. The purchase rate is ever climbing, but the buyers are ever failing.
  • 4% of new gym-goers have dropped out by the end of January, and 14% drop out in February.
  • Women drop out at a higher rate than men.
  • Only half of gym members go to work out twice a week. Others go less.
  • Gym owners over-sell memberships, because they expect only 18% of buyers to show up on a regular basis. If everyone followed through on their New Year’s resolutions, the gyms would be way overcrowded.
  • Laziness isn’t the #1 reason drop out. Costs are.
  • People aren’t very vigilant about their gym charges, so people who don’t show up may still be paying.

So now that you’ve thought twice about buying that gym membership, what are some resolutions that can help you get fit that you will actually keep — all year? Here are some simple suggestions that you can write down and dedicate yourself to.

1. Watch what you are serving at church functions

assorted candies in jars
Actual refreshments from a YW function

That member who is following a Paleo diet most often will find nothing to eat at an LDS function. You don’t have to cater to these people. Whole, unprocessed foods are on their list of acceptables. Fresh fruit and vegies, unprocessed meats and eggs, are usually OK and are better for you than cookies, brownies, and frog-eye salad. Mormons keep the Word of Wisdom and then feast on sugar. Stop. We can do better.

2. Choose one way to cut down on sugar in your own diet

This idea causes most people to roll their eyes and go into tantrum mode. Many of us will choose the sugary snack after considering a whole feast of other options because we are addicts, plain and simple. Yes, cutting down on sugar (or even better, giving it up completely) causes withdrawals, but you can survive, and your life will be better for it.

Choose to reward yourself for eating healthy all day with just a taste of dessert. It’s the taste we are after anyway, and savoring one bite can be as satisfying as eating the entire serving. Try it, you’ll see.

Cut down on sugars in your everyday foods. Read those cereal boxes. You can actually enjoy a bowl of original Cheerios with milk and NO SUGAR, once you get used to it.

Experience the effect of fruit becoming sweeter. Whole fruit is much healthier for you than juice. You get fiber and consume less (a large glass of orange juice contains the juice of 4-5 oranges—but it would be tough to eat that many). Once you cut down on sugar, fruit will become sweet enough to be your dessert, and regular desserts will become sickeningly sweet.

Analyze your daily intake and cut out one thing you normally eat or drink that consists of 200-300 calories. You will very gradually lose weight.

3. Give up soda

say no to soda graphic

Yeah, everyone is so excited that BYU is selling caffeinated sodas, and that sodas are not part of the Word of Wisdom, but all you have to do is search online for the terrible effects of drinking soda (even diet soda) to see that it could be the #1 destroyer of our health (since none of us is drinking or smoking, right?).

Find a substitute for sodas. Try carbonated water, flavored waters, fizzy juice (like IZZE), or even real water. This could be your #1 most valuable resolution. Stick with it all year, and you’ll never go back.

4. Move more


You don’t need a gym membership for this. Examine your daily routine and find ways to increase movement during your day. For some of you, this is laughable. You are chasing around a couple of toddlers and lifting them multiple times a day, or you are a plumber, lifting, carrying, and bending all the time. For those of you who are bound to a desk, however, this could be both easy and life-saving. Here are some ways to move more:

  • Park farther away from the office/ store/ mall/ market.
  • Get up every 10 minutes to stretch and pace around the office.
  • Walk with pep and convey a happy demeanor.
  • Take the stairs.
  • Go outside once a day no matter what the weather, not including your commute.
  • Breathe deeper. Try counting to 6 with each inhale and 6 with each exhale (you can do this anywhere, anytime).
  • Walk the dog, bathe the cat.
  • Vacuum. Clean under the sofa and on top of the bookcases.
  • It’s never been easier to find workouts on TV and online, and the variety of styles is amazing. Choose one you like and work out at home. Even a 15-minute routine a few times a week can change your life.
  • Use your body in an unfamiliar way. That might sound weird, but if you assess your daily movements, they are repetitive in certain patterns and postures. Seek out some sort of exercise that differs from the norm. That will keep you in better shape.
  • Stretch.
  • In order to perform life-saving movements, you have to be able to do them easily. How easy is it for you to get up if you fall? Practice getting up from a fallen position until you find it easy to do with energy. Do this with climbing stairs and other things you may have to do at a moment’s notice in an emergency.

5. Sleep better

woman sleeping

New research is showing that humans really do need about 8 hours of good sleep. The reasons for poor sleep are extremely various, so you will have to do your research to find things that work for you. A couple of suggestions…

  • Avoid blue light at night: wear yellow-tinted glasses or download computer and phone apps that turn the display yellow after dinnertime.
  • Make sure the bedroom temperature is below 70 degrees. The ideal is for the heat to come on just before it’s time to get up.
  • Try white noise (I’m using a free iPhone app for this). White noise can actually stop your mind from dwelling on whatever is bothering you. It’s really quite surprising and effective.
  • Get tested for sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is dangerous and you can sleep 8 hours and wake up feeling trashed. Do this especially if you have gained weight or are snoring.
  • Sleep on a schedule. Eleven to seven, or whatever, and keep that schedule.
  • Avoid alcohol and stimulants before bed.
  • Allow yourself time to wind down after evening events.
  • Enjoy a cup of “silver tea” — hot water, a tiny bit of sweetener, and milk or cream. Stir it slowly and create a ritual out of it and don’t drink it until it’s cooled a bit.

The above are easy changes that translate into doable New Year’s resolutions. Have any other good ideas? Share them in the comments below.


Gale Boyd is the managing editor for She is a Jewish convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and has lived all over the world. She has raised 6 Third Culture Kids and is always homesick for somewhere.