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Local Health Professionals Offer Advice for the New Year

Experts detail options for getting in better shape and living healthier.

Year in and year out, we make resolutions to lose weight, exercise regularly, eat better and develop a more active lifestyle.  

On the surface, these personal directives appear to be easy to adopt, but some of us can get overwhelmed or bogged down with adherence to finer details that can quickly derail our motivation. It’s important to note, however, that the ways in which we can achieve “health” or a new level of fitness is highly dependent on our individual needs and goals-and desire to make it happen.

“Generally everyone has the same two goals-improve self-esteem and improve the quality of quality of life,” said Robert DeVito, owner of Innovative Fitness Solutions in and “My job is to sit down and really figure out what someone wants to accomplish and what we can do with those goals and come up with a strategy that is realistic, progressive and maintainable.”

DeVito said that the majority of people who come to him this time of year are interested in one thing: weight loss. “Right around Jan. 1 people will start migrating into the fitness centers to get rid of unwanted holiday pounds,”  he said.

But weight loss tends to be a surface issue based on one’s lifestyle choices. So DeVito has a five-step approach for his clients that helps focus them on the path to a positive outcome.

“The first thing is get specific and avoid vague goals,” DeVito said. “People come in and say 'I want weight loss' and they don’t understand what that is. They need to get specific with how many pounds they want gone."

“Second is to focus on what one is gaining, not what they’re giving up,” DeVito said. “Saying 'I can't eat certain foods because I’m on a diet' is restrictive and not very good for an individual’s mentality. They should focus on what they’re getting, such as improved energy or the attainment of the goals."

DeVito said the third step is to get into the process and worry less about outcome. “What most people put much too much significance on is what the scale tells them. For people who want 20, 30 or 40 lbs. of weight loss, that’s realistically a 12- to 18-month process and it’s a slow process. They have to focus on the habits rather than the weight loss."

“Fourth is focus on your schedule,” DeVito said. “If you schedule it, you will do it. Get out of the mindset of making justifications for missing workouts  and making poor food choices. Make a schedule and stick to it."

Finally, DeVito said, the fifth step is to know that you are not perfect and everyone slips up. “Focus on the progress, not on being perfect. You’re living your life and one bad meal or one bad food day does not make or break your success,” he said.

While DeVito’s advice is a holistic approach to well-being with an emphasis on fitness, Fred Shafer, owner of in Butler, said that his customers tend to want to address their health issues from the inside out.

“We don't tend to have the diet craze products so much as people making commitments to just change their lifestyle a bit and eat more nutrient-dense foods and less processed and industrial foods,” Shafer said.

“And we will soon see a lot of people trying to do internal cleansing- by cleanse products, I mean things that will detoxify the blood, the liver. A lot of them are intestinal cleanses.”

Shafer said that antioxidants are also popular in various forms. "Antioxidants are substances that may protect cells from the damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals and can boost the immune system," according to the National Cancer Society.

Examples of popular antioxidants, Shafer said, include an Acai Berry drink, The Green Vibrance, a mix of greens with herbs that is naturally cleansing, and fiber powders such as flax Chia powder.

“There are many antioxidants that are good for you,” Shafer said. “Everyone is different, but taking the ones that have a really long history in human nutrition are really the most sane and sound ways to get healthy.”

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