Real-life Resolutions for the New Year

Happy 2014! As another January rolls in, so does the season for resolutions related to health, exercise and diet. Sometimes it can be hard to go from resolutions to reality—but I met two local individuals who committed in 2013 to make changes in their lifestyles that were very inspirational! Read on and perhaps their perseverance may embolden you to make any changes you desire this year, too.


Gene Areno mountain bikes in the trails of Brunswick Nature Park, and along with dietary changes, it's helped him lose 38 pounds so far. Courtesy photo

Gene Areno mountain bikes in the trails of Brunswick Nature Park, and along with dietary changes, it’s helped him lose 38 pounds so far. Courtesy photo

Gene Areno, age 51, was an avid surfer and athlete in younger years. Unfortunately, degenerative changes in his hip left him with pain leading to a sedentary lifestyle and weight gain. Gene tried the usual fad diets, often losing weight only to gain it back again. With the opening of the Brunswick Nature Park, Gene started mountain biking on the trails.

“Every time I tried to exercise, it hurt,” he explains. Finally, the pain and weight forced him to seek help for his joint problem. “Having a total hip replacement was a scary thought for me.”

He credits Dr. Walter Frueh, orthopedic surgeon at OrthoWilmington, for his words of encouragement toward letting Gene participate in activities he wanted to do. “Dr. Frueh gave me back my life; I thank him every time I ride my mountain bike because he is the reason for the change in my life,” Gene expresses. “My life changed 180 degrees.”

Not only does Gene now ride the trails every day—including in semi-darkness with a head lamp—he has made dietary changes to assist in  losing 38 pounds thus far. “I used to eat lunch then grab a candy bar and soda for a snack,” he concedes.

All this has changed, too, with Gene eating tuna, yogurt and vegetables in place of his old habits. “All I ever drink is water now,” he reveals.

Gene gave the following helpful hints to those struggling to achieve a regular exercise program. “You gotta find something that is fun,” he says. “I cannot walk a treadmill, so I won’t do it, but the adrenaline rush of biking keeps me going back every day.”

In addition, Gene has formed a group that often rides with him, which keeps him motivated. Kudos to you Gene Areno! Keep it up!


Diane Salyer is training for her first 5K race and would like to organize a 'Zombiethon' race for Southport. Courtesy photo

Diane Salyer is training for her first 5K race and would like to organize a ‘Zombiethon’ race for Southport. Courtesy photo

Diane Salyer, owner of Southport Taffy and Fudge Factory, has also made some huge changes in her lifestyle this year. Despite opening her candy business, she has managed to lose 30 pounds and has begun training for a 5K! I offer a huge “pat on the back” for being around candy all day and losing weight!

Diane also tried multiple weight-loss programs over the years saying,  “I can tell you everything you need to do to lose weight—but I didn’t do it!”

Her desire to get in shape was a motivational factor. In May, she began walking regularly with her daughter, resulting in a 10-pound weight loss over about two months.

In July, she initiated a lifestyle change to avoid sugar and processed carbohydrates. She also made the change to rid her diet of all sugar substitutes and diet drinks, effectively losing a total of 30 pounds!

In September, Diane started a Couch to 5k (C25K) program (also discussed previously in this column). This C25K program is available online at www.c25k.com and helps individuals to transition from a sedentary lifestyle to running a 5K.

Her goal is to run this 5K in 2014; she hopes to organize a “Zombiethon” run in the spring in Southport! Diane admits she was not as consistent with her exercise program as the busy holiday season approached, but her desire is to “maintain” during the holidays and re-energize after Christmas—just in time for the new year.

Diane suggested the following helpful hints to those struggling to get started:

1. Find a partner to exercise with for accountability.

2. Make a lifestyle change in diet with your entire family or spouse. They will all benefit. In fact, Diane’s spouse lost 21 pounds!

3. Treat yourself with a very small portion of your favorites—including fudge or taffy—but not every day!

Congratulations on making the choice for your health, Diane! Sign me up for your 5K!


Whatever your situation, make 2014 the year you invest in your health. Seek the assistance you need to get started—without excuses!

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