Most people who make New Year's resolutions make the same one Ted Stinson did: Get in better shape.
Gyms are crowded, salads are consumed, runners in new gear take to the trails. But a couple of months later, not so much.
"By March, most people will give up," said Megan Silva, a trainer with Custom Built Personal Training in Turlock.
But Silva and others offered some ideas to help Stinson and others like him who need to get started on a fitness plan — and stay on it. The Modesto man, 56, has some physical limitations and needs to lose about 100 pounds.
"Send him to me," said Debbie Wolski, who operates Village Yoga Center in Modesto's McHenry Village. "I'll get it off him. He won't even know what hit him."
The key, experts agreed, is not to view the process as a diet. It's a lifestyle change. And it doesn't have to be an overwhelming one.
Start with small steps, says the United States Department of Health and Human Services, which started a program by the same name aimed at reducing the skyrocketing obesity rate.
The Web site, SmallStep.gov, suggests tips such as washing the car by hand, walking on your lunch hour and eating half your dessert.
It's not about deprivation, said Signe Darpinian, a family therapist who runs the Meghan's Place Eating Disorder Center in Modesto. She helps people learn how to eat intuitively; in other words, to eat when they're hungry and stop when they're full.
People who feel deprived are more apt to give up on their goals.
In her system, "There are no off-limit foods. It's just that you can't eat doughnuts, or chicken breasts, without a hunger cue. ... A calorie is a calorie."
Darpinian said she works with people to be more aware of why they're overeating. She suggested viewing disordered eating as a house of cards.
"If you want to bring the house down, food is nothing but the top card," she said. "What are the structural pieces maintaining the system?"
Yoga, Wolski said, is a great way to start.
"Yoga puts you in touch with yourself," she said. "You start acknowledging feelings that especially men don't know how to acknowledge that cause you to binge or overeat or eat the wrong things."
And, she said, anyone can do it. Wolski said she can work with people of any age or ability level. A recent class included people who have practiced yoga for years, some relatively recent converts and one newbie.
"If you have 100 people, you have 100 different levels of yoga," Wolski explained. She demonstrated each move and used a strap to pull a wayward back into alignment.
Susan Owens, 60, is a believer.
Owens started coming to yoga last March to lose weight and get some exercise.
"I did that. I lost 25 pounds and a total of 16 inches," she said. "But the other thing you get from yoga is it teaches you to know yourself better."
Owens said she'd tried diets and gym workouts before, but yoga worked like nothing else. Now she's becoming an instructor and plans to open her own shop in Manteca, where she lives.
Owens' experience is not unusual, Wolski said.
"Once you start yoga, it's kind of a lifetime love affair," she said. "I have brand-new people every day and I haven't lost one yet."
Though not everyone can afford to go to a yoga class, almost anybody can walk.
Silva said that's a good start for people such as Stinson.
"Just doing something will make a huge difference," she said. She suggested he walk a little farther every day, working up to 30 to 45 minutes most days of the week.
Stinson said he's trying to walk more and eat healthier.
"I'm not going to put an end date on it," he said of his weight-loss efforts. "I put it all on in one year; I know it's going to take longer to get it off."
Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2343.