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Baltimoreans trying to start new year off in a healthier way

As usual, the new year brings promises to lose weight and eat healthy. That's on the minds of many local residents as they begin 2011 with the age-old tradition, New Year's resolutions.

"It's a fresh start," said Doralee Billings, 53, of Baltimore. She was among scores of area residents working out Sunday at Lynne Brick's Women's Health and Fitness in Baltimore's Belvedere Square. Some at the expansive fitness center had made resolutions to become more fit, while others were reaffirming earlier health-related commitments.

"I just want to get healthy," said Billings. "I'm tired of being tired."

According to the U.S. government's official Web portal, usa.gov, five of the top 12 New Year's resolutions involve healthier living — including losing weight, managing stress and quitting smoking. Many local residents say that the New Year offers incentive, if not inspiration, to commit to habits they hope will last.

Kerri McAteer of Parkville made a New Year's resolution a few weeks ago to lose weight. The 26-year-old said she currently weighs 252 pounds and hopes to lose 100. "I can do it," she said. "I lost 50 pounds a couple of years ago, so I'm back on track."

Billings took a step class alongside Kelli Ruiz, 28, of Baltimore, who said that she's resolved to lose weight because she is to take part in a wedding in April. "Also I have a 1-year-old," said Ruiz, "so I gained baby weight, and I want her to see me eating healthy and being healthy."

Jobi Zink, group exercise instructor at Lynne Brick's, said that she sees many people making get-fit resolutions this time of year. She stressed to step class participants to make certain that they do what's necessary to give their resolutions staying power — including prioritizing time to get fit.

"This is what I did when I was in graduate school, when there was no time for workouts," said Zink. "I put it in my schedule; I made it an appointment, like a meeting. It was on my list, 5:30 step class, just like at 3:30 I had History 310.

"The other thing I tell them is to get a buddy," Zink said. "Have a friend that you don't want to let down. You need a buddy who is going to drag you by the ear and say, 'Yes, you are coming to the gym.' "

"Generally our traffic doubles in what we see in the first three months of the year, compared to what we see the rest of the year, and I would say 60-70 percent of the people are talking about New Year's resolutions," said Lynne Brick's general manager, Michelle Kautzman. She added that most of those who talk New Year's resolutions say they're focusing on weight loss and stress reduction.

Billings said she's experimenting with various approaches to getting fit to maintain her resolution.

"The exercise is part of cutting down on stress, so that's my ulterior motive," Billings said.

joseph.burris@baltsun.com

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