Got some New Year's resolutions this year? Of course, you do. And if you're like most of us, in your imagination, you're envisioning outcomes worthy of Walter Mitty.
You know, dropping lots of weight by February and exercising to look like Kelly Rowland in the Sexy Abs video by March.
Every year, experts say this kind of thinking is a setup for failure and then we go ahead and do it anyway.
For 2014, why not try something a little different? Instead of making big promises, vow to do some small things that really add up. It's a lot more fun, too.
Here are some ideas for getting to your goals:
Eat more home-cooked meals
Maybe you're old enough to remember when most folks ate at home and going out to eat was only for special occasions.
But restaurants and drive-thrus are a big fact of life now and no wonder. They eliminate the hassle factor and solve what's-for-dinner in a hurry.
One problem, though. Compared to home-cooked meals, restaurant meals are typically higher in fat, calories and sodium with less of the good things like fruits and vegetables. And the portion sizes are huge.
You have to know how to cook, of course. If you don't, ask a friend who cooks to share some how-to. Or find a basic beginner's cookbook, ideally with pictures, that emphasizes healthy recipes.
Cooking classes are another option. A few examples:
"Super Food and Their Recipes," 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesdays from Jan. 29 to Feb. 12 at the Sarasota County Technical Institute's Adult & Community Enrichment Center, 4748 Beneva Road, Sarasota. Cost is $72. Go to www.sarasotacountyschools.net/schools/ace or call 941-361-6590.
The Aprons Cooking School at the University Walk Publix, 2875 University Parkway, Sarasota, features a wide variety of cooking classes. Coming up is "Gluten-Free Italian" at 6 p.m. Jan. 9 ($40) and "Basic Knife Skills" at 6 p.m. Jan. 22 ($50). Chef Tommy Klauber of the Polo Grill and Bar in Lakewood Ranch will be demonstrating how to make crisp kale salad and herbed quinoa spring rolls at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 16 ($40). Go to www.publix.com/aprons or call 941-358-7781.
Fit in more fruits and vegetables
You don't have to do it all at once; work up in small increments. For instance, start by eating one more daily serving than usual.
Locally grown, fresh produce is abundant this time of year with the winter growing season underway. A place to browse and buy is the Downtown Bradenton Farmers Market, open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays through May 31 on Old Main Street.
Care more about your health
Have diabetes? You're not alone; diabetes has become a huge health problem in the United States. It's linked to being overweight and sedentary so eating well and exercising is important.
But there's a lot more to know. Studies have shown that self-management education classes can be pivotal for better control of diabetes.
A four-session diabetes self-management and education starts on Jan. 6 at Manatee Memorial Hospital, 206 Second St. E., Bradenton. The class will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. on Mondays through Jan. 27. Cost is $25 for a workbook. Space is limited; call 941-708-8100.
Make exercise more fun
Treadmills are standard for exercise but they can get pretty boring. When you're doing something fun - especially with an exercise buddy - you're more likely to stick with it.
Here are some ideas of where to look:
Go to meetup.com, plug in your area and you'll find lots of groups to join that are focused on a physical activity, ranging from guided walks to paddle boarding.
The Bradenton Runners Club schedules running and walking groups that get together weekly. Go to www.bradentonrunnersclub.com to learn times and locations.
Find tennis partners -- of all levels -- through www.tennisround.com. The site has information about where to play (it lists 24 public and private courts in Bradenton); once you're registered, you can send invitations to other registered players.
Meanwhile, there are community centers that offer many types of exercise classes from Zumba to LeBarre:
Anna Maria Island Community Center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria. Coming up in January: Surfset fitness class that mimics surfing. www.islandcommunitycenter.com or 941-778-1908.
Palmetto Art Center, 907 Fifth St. W., Palmetto. Zumba, Pilates and yoga, there plus harder-to-find classes like Breath and Body, and LeBarre. www.palmettoartcenter.com or 941-518-2109.
Palma Sola Botanical Garden, 9800 17th Ave. N.W., Bradenton. Yoga classes, including candlelight/restorative yoga. www.palmasolabp.com or 941-761-2866.
Renaissance on 9th, 1816 9th St. W., Bradenton. The senior enrichment features a fitness center that is free for Silver Sneakers, and classes such as ballroom dancing, line dancing and tai chi. Music and dancing is on Monday afternoons. www.renaissanceon9th.org or 941-749-0100.
Susan Hemmingway, Herald health correspondent, can be reached at email@example.com.