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MARY GANZEL: Make 2014 a year of growth

HEALTH AND FITNESS: Make a plan to bring good intentions to life

Mary Ganzel

Mary Ganzel

A question I find myself asking this time each year is how will this year be different from last year? What will I do for personal growth, to enrich the lives of others, to make my home more joyful and fun? How will I spend more quality time with family and friends and find ways to bless those around me at work and in the community? What will I do in 2014 to help make Albany a better place to live?

To set goals to make improvements in all of these areas, and to accomplish those goals, it takes more than a desire and good intentions. It also takes a well-laid plan that is achievable.

Once again, I’ve resolved to grow as an individual, enrich the lives of others, make my home more joyful and fun, find time for family and friends, bless others and contribute to the health of Albany. I’ve set my goals, and now it’s time to plan effectively to achieve those goals. Well … here goes.

Goals must be specific, so my goal for personal growth is to read one book every three months — and I have precise topics in mind. One book will provide insight on becoming a better listener; one book will be about the art of negotiating; the topic of another book is how to be a better wife, and, finally, I will read a book about my overall health.

Another of my goals for personal growth is related to my health. I resolve to use my Nike+ band to track my steps daily, to participate in Tabata Bootcamp training, and be part of Team Lean at the YMCA. I feel these programs will help me be more accountable and help me keep myself on the road to being a healthier me.

There are so many ways to help enrich the lives of others, but I’ve taken a realistic look at my commitments, and I’m choosing one activity I can do through my job, and one outside activity. I’ve been following the work of Mission Change and the Reading and Racquets program. I will personally join the effort of one of these groups in 2014. At work, I will develop new programs at the YMCA that allow members to enrich the lives of others, for example, a mentoring program, a senior program, an intergenerational program, or a program where members can give back to the community. I’m open for suggestions and champions to help me with this cause through the YMCA.

Making time for fun at home and bringing joy into the home is so important. Unfortunately, this often takes a back burner for many working parents. Many people are like me and put in a lot of hours at work because they love what they do. However, everyone needs a good balance between home life and work life.

I consider my job to be my mission field and I love it. Having said this, my goals for 2014 are to put 30 minutes a night into straightening the house; prepare a meal four nights a week; walk with my husband three days per week, and have a date night every two weeks. In addition, I will invite friends over for game, movie or sports night every four to six weeks.

Everyone feels better in a cleaner house. By preparing healthy meals at home, my husband and I will both feel better and we’ll save money in 2014. Walking with my husband is great exercise, and enables us to spend quality time together. A strong marriage can be made even stronger when couples try new activities together. Having a date night every two weeks will get us out of the house doing something different — even if it’s just for bowling, skating, golf or a show. Everyone should consider breaking out of their normal routine, trying new things and meeting new people.

Numerous studies have shown links between friendship and quality of life, giving credit to our friendships for many positive outcomes such as health, happiness, better sleep, cognitive enhancements and delay in ageing. My goal is to celebrate and nurture my friendships in 2014 by opening my home more often. Enjoying time with friends can be as simple as having a few people over for game night. One of the most enjoyable experiences of my Christmas holiday was game night with my family. We laughed and enjoyed each other’s company for over four hours and the time flew by!

In terms of blessing others, I will find something to do or say to make at least one individual smile every day or relieve a burden. The goal is to do this with a different individual each day. If I’m successful with all of my goals for 2014, I’m hopeful this will have a positive impact on Albany. I challenge the Herald readers to do the same. Let’s improve our community together. What goals will you set this year?

Mary Ganzel is senior program director at the Albany Area YMCA. She has a master’s degree in exercise physiology from the University of Kentucky and has worked in the fitness industry for more than 25 years. She’s been certified through multiple national organizations over the years as a personal trainer, exercise test technologist, health promotion director, group exercise instructor, Cycle Reebok instructor and Pilates instructor through Cooper Institute, American College of Sports Medicine, American Council on Exercise, Aerobic Fitness Association of America and the Young Mens Christian Association.