New Year, New You (Within a VISTA Lifestyle)

Written by Kourtney Zigelmier, an AmeriCorps VISTA serving at La Casita Center.

The new year offers the perfect opportunity to reevaluate your life choices or redefine yourself. With new year’s resolutions bombarding us through social media, television or a coworker simply asking about your resolutions, it’s hard to escape the motivational feelings of self-improvement.  However, achieving our resolutions may seem daunting with the added the stress and difficulty of the VISTA lifestyle.  Have no fear, I am here to share some pointers to creating and achieving new year’s resolutions within a VISTA lifestyle and budget.

On your path to the new you.

Not all resolutions are created equal.  According to the several sources, about 92% of New Year’s resolutions fail. But, don’t let this become disheartening; there is nothing stopping you from becoming a part of that 8% success rate. So what if it seems like a tiny, small, miniscule success rate. You (potentially) moved hundreds of miles away to accept a difficult position in a new town with little pay, all because you believed in AmeriCorps, your cause, your organization and yourself. So, the question is, “what are those 8% of resolutioners doing to achieve their goals?” They are not making a laundry list of resolutions, but rather focusing on one aspect of their life they wish to change. Who knows they may even be following the S.M.A.R.T. principle to create specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time frame-specific goals.

Here is an informational chart for your viewing:


For example, a difficult to achieve goal would be, “I want to get healthy.” It leaves the questions of “How are you going to get healthy?”, “What is healthy?”, “How are you going to measure healthy?”, “How long will it take you to get healthy?”  A better goal would state that, “By June 2018, I would like to lower my cholesterol by eating clean and keeping a food journal every day.”

The S.M.A.R.T. principle is a free, easier to use method to set and reach your objectives.  It also translates well to different aspects of life, such as the work environment. In fact, the method was originally used to discuss reaching management objectives and the letters can be interchanged to fit your specific goal situation.  I learned about this method in a health class in college and today many health professionals use the principle for health-related behavioral changes.

Fitness? More like fit this whole pizza in my mouth. Since about ⅔ of New Year’s resolutions are fitness-based, I thought I would make a special list dedicated to those whose path to self-improvement took them down a tedious track full of dumbbells and treadmills.  

  • Don’t join a gym. Fitness goals can become very expensive very quickly. You don’t need fancy equipment or a blender bottle to reach them. Many workouts can actually be done in the comfort of your own home or outside. Gyms are expensive; even the cheaper ones that offer the $1 down, $10 a month have an additional $39.99 yearly fee.  If you choose to cancel before your contract is up, there’s a fee for that too.
  • Shop smart, shop S-Mart. Shop stores such as Aldi’s or GFS for healthier, cheap options, cut coupons or use Kroger digital coupons (every Friday Kroger gives out a coupon for a free item), choose frozen produce instead of fresh. Frozen produce is cheaper and the nutrient content is roughly the same.
  • Stick with it. Once you have created your goal, make sure you are held accountable.  Create a goal journal, or a vision board (I had a friend in college that swore by these), find a workout buddy/frenemy who will push you to work your hardest, or get your coworkers involved by hosting a work fitness challenge.
  • Treat yo’ self. Within your long-term goal, create smaller short-term goals with rewards.  Spend a whole Sunday vegging, visit that free museum you always wanted to or have a spa day at home. Your imagination is your limit, but if you get stuck here are some ideas.
  • Use free resources. You don’t need a personal trainer to design an expensive plan that you probably won’t follow any which way. Watch a Youtube video, find workout guides online download a free app or check out a book from the library. The library will probably even have a display of exercise-themed books for your perusing.

Don’t be discouraged. Change is hard, but we didn’t choose the VISTA lifestyle because it was going to be easy.  In the words of Rob Schneider, “You Can Do It!”


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