Meriden fitness and nutrition experts give tips to start a healthy new year

Via Peters

MERIDEN – One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is weight loss, but people tend to quickly fall off track.

We spoke with experts in the nutrition and fitness industry to help you set realistic lifestyle goals for 2022.

Carrie Marquardt, health & wellness director for the Meriden-New Britain-Berlin YMCA, said “the best way to be successful is to set small goals.” 

She explained that people start the year wanting to do it all at once, cutting calories, exercising and giving up cigarettes and soda, something that often ends up not being successful.

She suggested starting out with one thing at a time, such as making better choices when it’s time to eat.

After being successful with the first objective, more goals can be added.

Esmeralda “Annie” O’ Farrill is a fitness trainer and CrossFit coach at the Meriden YMCA.

She is also a student at Southern Connecticut State University, with a major in sports science and a minor in nutrition. 

O’ Farrill, who was born in Puerto Rico, said food is a very cultural thing.

“You cannot tell a person who grew up eating bread and rice to not eat bread and rice because that’s their culture, that’s how they relate,” she said.

She explained that it is better not to give up on foods but to have a limited amount, depending on each individual’s goal.

She said some people try to give up an entire food group, such as carbohydrates, and that doesn’t always work out because the body needs those nutrients and people end up having cravings.

For O’ Farrill, consulting with a professional before making drastic diet changes is important.

O’ Farrill noted that choosing brown rice instead of white rice, sweet potatoes rather than regular potatoes and whole grain bread instead of white bread, are all small but positive changes people can start to incorporate into their diet.

O’ Farrill said she used to be almost 100 pounds overweight, something she got under control after hiring a personal trainer.

She said those small changes are what started her on the path to becoming a healthier person.

When it comes to supplements, she said people should be careful, do research and consult a professional. In addition, supplements should be consumed along with a healthy diet and exercise.

Dr. William Lunn, a professor at SCSU, is one of the individuals she has been learning from when it comes to supplements and nutrition.

Social media plays a big role in body image. O’ Farrill said people should be careful not to believe everything they see on social media as influencers are normally just trying to sell a product.

Marquardt said exercising is important but it is better for people to do an exercise they enjoy.

“If you like to walk, by all means you should walk, you shouldn’t run if you don’t want to run,” she said. “You have to find something that you enjoy doing, that you will stick with.”

Exercise apps and videos can help guide people in a good direction, she said.

Nancy Payne, of Meriden, joined the YMCA in 2014. She said she was one of those people who chose new year’s resolutions but didn’t manage them properly.

When it comes to fitness and nutrition, she said she has been able to gain healthier habits.

“It’s a learning curve,” she said.

When she joined the YMCA, she was new to Meriden and she wanted to be involved in the community. 

She said she joined O’ Farrill’s classes, where she told clients about her experience being overweight.

That caught Payne’s attention and she continued to work with O’ Farrill, who gave her exercise and nutrition tips. Payne ended up hiring O’ Farrill as her personal trainer.

“Doing that and following what she was telling me, I was able to lose some of my weight,” she said and praised O’ Farrill for helping so many others.

Payne has Puerto Rican parents and she enjoys when her family cooks.

She has learned to ask her family to make healthier choices, such as baking rather than frying. 

Michael McDowell, general manager at Club 24 fitness center in Meriden, said one of the most important aspects of health is nutrition, which is why his gym offers nutrition help.

Part of their goal with clients is to have them meet with a trainer to help them set up a personalized plan.

“You want to find something that fits you personally,” he said.

One of the things that help people who want to start a healthier lifestyle is finding a workout partner or taking a group class where they could meet people with similar goals, he said.

[email protected]: @KarlaSantosNews

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