New Year's resolutions: How to quit, and how to get fit

One in a January series of anecdotes and advice from our readers for keeping New Year's resolutions.

The resolution: To get fit.

How I did it: Five years ago I started exercising for the umpteenth time. Historically, I would work myself up for weeks to hit the gym, but each time I worked hard, only to wake up the next day too sore to return. Three days passed, and I lost all gumption to continue.

This time I vowed my first workout would be simple so that I couldn't help but feel great the next day.

Day One, I did 10 minutes on the treadmill at Level 4 or took a swift walk. Day Two, I came back and did the same. I continued until I was able to leisurely lengthen the time and increase the speed. Within a year, I was at 20 minutes at speed 5 (medium jog). Today, I'm training for my first triathlon.

Here's how:

1. You have to have plenty of time; otherwise, forget it.

2. If you are older (I was 50), you've lost muscle, so be prepared to spend two to three years getting it back.

3. Commiting three-plus days per week to exercise will drive you crazy, but do it anyway.

4. Nine out of 10 trainers are a waste of money, unless you like chit-chatting.

5. Initially, [working out at] home is OK. Eventually, a good gym is priceless.

-- Mike Dunham, 56, Colleyville

The resolution: To quit smoking.

How I did it: On Dec. 20, 2011, little did I know I was going to have the chance of a lifetime to correct a really bad habit and make a New Year's resolution that I didn't know I was going to make. My husband and I were having lunch at a restaurant in Gainesville before going on to an overnight stay at WinStar Casino when I had a sudden heart attack. Following quick directions, I arrived at Gainesville Hospital and was subsequently taken by ambulance to Denton, where I received two stints, which saved my life.

As I lay recuperating in the hospital for five days, it dawned on me that I wasn't really interested in having a cigarette, and that by the time I was released, I would be well on my way to quitting smoking.

The main thought that ran through my head was that when my husband had open-heart surgery many years before, one of his nurses told me that when he got off the respirator and woke up, that the chemicals would be out of his body in three days, and that any other steps to quitting would simply be habit breaking and head work.

I left the hospital and never had another cigarette. I knew that my brain and will were strong enough to help me be in control of my habit. No cigarettes since then (over one year) and no desire to smoke. In February 2012, I packed up my leftover package, two brand-new cartons, several lighters and shipped them off to our American soldiers in Afghanistan after a Facebook plea from a friend.

It also helps that I had been considering quitting for a year or so beforehand.

-- Kay W. Davis, 49, Willow Park