It’s not too late to get ‘Fit in ’15’ with the Oak Bluffs library

A check-in with Anna Marie D’Addarie’s motivational health and wellness program.

Siobhan Beasley teaches a yoga class as part of the Fit in 15 program. — Photo by Ralph Stuart

New Year’s resolutions come and go; diet plans fly out the window at the first pizza; exercise goals are forgotten when the alarm rings at 6 am. And reducing stress in your busy life? That’s just too stressful!

Anna Marie D’Addarie, program coordinator at the Oak Bluffs library, knows as most of us do that achieving goals takes more than good intentions and wishful thinking. In 2014, determined to take off some stubborn extra pounds that had been burdening her for several years, Ms. D’Addarie embarked on a serious weight-loss quest of exercise and healthy eating. But more than that, she began exploring and analyzing what it takes to stick with a plan and achieve a goal of any kind.

Now Ms. D’Addarie is trim, fit, and energetic after losing 50 pounds, and she still continues the healthy lifestyle habits that enabled her to get to her desired weight, strength, and clothing size. Ms. D’Addarie sat down with this writer in a comfortable corner of the library, and recounted the research and experimentation she had done.

With books, periodicals, and the Internet at her fingertips, Ms. D’Addarie read, digested, and compiled the most helpful information about setting and achieving goals. She set her personal weight and fitness goals, and utilized what she learned.

She read about cognitive behavioral therapy, and found useful tips and suggestions. An inspiring volume was “The Beck Diet Solution” by Judith Beck, a cognitive behavioral therapist.

She stuck to her goals, and as she began losing pound after pound, growing stronger and slimmer through a healthy diet, long walks, and regular workouts, library patrons took note and asked how she did it.

“I told them I ate less and moved more,” Ms. D’Addarie recalled. It’s a tip many of us are aware of, but rarely implement in our own lives.

Ms. D’Addarie wanted to share with others all the useful information she had learned about reaching her desired goal. And what better way than through a library program, which she could easily facilitate and which are free and accessible to everyone? Thus, “Fit in ’15” was born.

She began planning the program last summer, and aimed to begin it soon after January 1, to support participants in keeping New Year’s resolutions and to capitalize on people’s inherent desire to better themselves at that time of year. She envisioned it as a combination of presentations on achieving fitness and wellbeing for body, mind, and spirit.

When she introduced the idea of “Fit in ’15” to library patrons, she received enthusiastic encouragement. Professionals and experts she contacted had positive feedback, and were cooperative, glad to sign on to share their wisdom and experience. Library patrons suggested program ideas and speakers. Prospective presenters contacted Ms. D’Addarie, offering to take part.

Beyond presenting interesting talks and demonstrations, Ms. D’Addarie intended “Fit in ’15” to provide a framework and model that people could incorporate into their lives to pursue a specific goal.

A set of 15 easy-to-follow “rules” help participants stay focused. Among them: “Set a goal for 2015”; “Write 15 advantages of reaching your goal”; “Select two ways to achieve your goal.”Participants are encouraged to think of potential roadblocks, and devise a response before they occur, and to spend at least 15 minutes a day working toward the goal. Other creative suggestions: Make a vision board with photos and graphics; keep a daily “Fit in ’15” journal; decide on how to measure your success: and give yourself credit for hard work, often a gold star or a smiley face. Participants are encouraged to (anonymously) post their thoughts, affirmations, and progress on “The Fit in ’15 Wall” in the library, and to review goals and advantages frequently.

There is no official sign-up, no group meetings or reports. People may keep their goals private, though some share with Ms. D’Addarie or others. Ms. D’Addarie noted that presentations are open to those who just want to drop in occasionally, and not everyone needs to work toward a goal. But for those who wish to, there is plenty of support.

An experienced writer and editor, Ms. D’Addarie laid the groundwork for “Fit in ’15” with tempting emails describing the intent of the program, potential benefits, and highlighting some presentations. All communications and posters bore the jaunty “Fit in ’15” logo created by Tara Kenny of Illumination Design Group.

Library patrons were already excited about the program when the festive kickoff event arrived in late January. Presentations are held on weekend days and weeknights. Subjects have included nutrition, physical fitness, health and wellbeing, and emotional balance.

Even in the harsh weather, people turned out for “Boxing for Fitness and Fun” with Matt Cancellare, a “Brain Fitness” memory workshop by Nancy Langman and Victoria Haeselbarth, and “Guided Meditation” by Susan Desmerais. Jenn Chang demonstrated innovative vegetable creations in “Cooking with Color,” and served delectable samples. Springtime featured home organization with Kim D’Arcy, a healthy-eating presentation by nutritionists Lino and Jane Stanchich, and a “Yarn and Fabric Giveaway,” where participants shared materials while decluttering.

By late spring, “Fit in ’15” was observing its five-month anniversary with many active participants and a packed calendar of events. For those seeking to recover from a hectic July Fourth or settle into vacation mode, Ms. D’Addarie planned “Nurture Week,” featuring yoga with Siobhan Beasley, guided meditation, Nathan Luce’s “Reiki Demystified,” and a talk on tai chi and acupuncture. Jenn Chang was back recently with a bright lunch-to-go concept: “Mason Jar Portable Food.”

To help participants stay focused on a goal, Ms. D’Addarie sends regular emails with inspirational messages and photos, reminders about observing the rules, and descriptions of future events. She often shares her own process, too.

“I like the personal lists of what helps me be successful and what gets in my way,” commented Beth Toomey of West Tisbury. “To look at these tools daily is very powerful.”

“The overall benefits are a personalized positive process to help you stay on track,” Ms. Toomey added. “If you have an off day, and are not keeping to the plan, you easily get back on track by reading your own personally written ‘Fit in ’15 Rules’ and goals.”

Amber Hunt, a landscaper and part-time librarian from Oak Bluffs, gave a glowing review of the program and Ms. D’Addarie’s work in planning “Fit in ’15,” hosting events, and sending encouraging email reminders.

“I enjoyed the guided meditation,” Ms. Hunt recalled. “It was very relaxing, despite being in a room full of people, and I’ve even used the techniques if I’ve had trouble falling asleep. I mentally follow the steps the presenter gave, and have found it helps me fall asleep.”

Ms. Hunt, a first-time homeowner, said her goal is to become more organized, and “Fit in ’15” has supported her in continuing to work toward this goal, by doing a cleaning or other organizing chore each day.

“Participants try to give me credit for their success,” commented Ms. D’Addarie recently. “I gave them the tools, but they are doing the work. With ‘Fit in ’15,’ you have to show up every day: You recommit to your goal, you focus on the advantages of achieving the goal, and you give yourself credit for the work you do rather than beating yourself up for what you didn’t do.”

The upcoming calendar features “Vinyasa Open-Level Flow Yoga” by Yuliana Kim-Grant (Tuesday, August 11, and Thursday, August 13, 10:30 am),Keep on the Fitness Track” with Jaci Smith, physical therapist, athletic trainer, and wellness coach (Thursday, August 20, 6 pm). Kim D’Arcy presents “Organizing Your Paperwork” on a date to be announced.

When holiday time comes, Ms. D’Addarie is already planning for a “Holiday Recipe Makeovers” activity, a better and healthier way to make high-calorie holiday favorites. Participants are invited to submit a recipe for a traditional holiday delicacy, revised as a healthier, lighter version. There will be a prize for the best recipe, and recipes will be compiled in an ebook, available to all.

And when January 1 comes around again, will there be a “Fit in ’16” to help us keep those ambitious resolutions? Considering the popularity and success of this program, it would be a very welcome addition to the New Year.

For more information, contact, 508-693-9433, ext. 142.