January is notoriously filled with New Year’s hopes that often dwindle as winter weather and realities of post-holiday life set in. But this year, the College of Charleston is committed to helping community members fulfill their resolutions with help from our faculty, staff and facilities. Check out how the College can help you stick to your goals, according to USA.gov’s list of most popular resolutions.

1. Lose Weight


The George Street Fitness Center is free to all students and available to faculty and staff.

First things first, Professor of Health and Human Performance Wes Dudgeon advises, don’t use a scale if weight loss if one of your goals. “Body Mass Index is a good, easy tool to use, but it cannot differentiate between fat mass and non-fat mass. If, for instance, you are building muscle from exercising, your positive results may not show up on the scale because muscle weighs more than fat per unit volume. A lot of good weight loss programs base outcomes on girth measurements of selected body parts (e.g. waist, hips, thighs, etc.), rather than total body weight.”

RELATED: Learn more about the College’s Public Health and Exercise Science Programs.

Furthermore, Dudgeon explains simply moving can work wonders. “Sitting is one of the worst things you can do for your health.  Stand up more.  Walk around during study breaks.  Any physical activity is better than none, so don’t get intimidated if you don’t have an exercise routine yet. However, when you do get started on an exercise program, interval training programs seem to be the best for weight loss.”

If you’re trying to break into an exercise routine, check out the George Street Fitness Center (50 George St.), which is conveniently located in the middle of campus and free to students.

 2. Quit smoking.

Thanks to the College’s new (as of July 1, 2014) Tobacco-Free policy, this resolution made much easier to follow. No tobacco of any kind is allowed on campus, and to help smokers quit, several offices and local organizations offer supportive resources.

3. Get a better education.

In addition to the College’s many courses for full- and part-time enrolled students, the Bachelor of Professional Studies program offers degree-completion classes for those striving for an undergraduate degree, and the Graduate School at the College of Charleston boasts several master’s programs.

 4. Get a better job.

The College’s Career Center has you covered! The Career Center publishes job listings through CISTERNonline in addition to hosting professional preparation events and appointments for students, like career counseling and decision making, cover letter critiques and career fairs.

5. Save Money

It’s hard to save money without first knowing exactly how you spend your money. For that, services like Mint.com are helpful.

If you’re interested in gaining a more in-depth understanding of how to save and earn money, consider taking a personal finance class like the College’s FINC 120. It’s described as “an introductory course analyzing the characteristics and relative importance of common and preferred stocks, mutual funds, municipal and corporate bonds, Treasury obligations, U.S. Government agency issues and real estate.”

6. Get fit.

Here, Dudgeon chimes in with more interesting advice: “While losing weight is a fine goal, studies show that it’s better to focus on fitness rather than weight loss,” He said. “You can be overweight but still be fit. The reason fitness is important is that with every measurable increase in fitness, you see a decrease in all-cause mortality, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some cancers. Weight loss is important, but becoming fit is crucial.” You can test your aerobic fitness in a lab (like the Human Performance Lab in the Department of Health and Human Performance) by looking at your oxygen consumption or using a number of field tests that estimate aerobic fitness based on how long it takes you to run a mile (age and gender specific).

Beyond exercise, Wes contends, “Sticking to a healthy diet is one of the hardest parts of becoming fit. The best tip would be to avoid processed foods,  including  fast foods and almost all packaged foods. This way, you are cutting down on the harmful chemicals used to process foods as well as reducing sugar intake. More and more we’re discovering the detrimental effects of diets loaded with sugar.”

7. Manage stress.

Whatever kind of stress you’re dealing with, the College’s Counseling and Substance Abuse Services can be an effective first step to relieve it. You can set up appointments with staff members or engage in peer counseling depending on your preference. No matter what, these services will help students and community members deal with anything from homesickness to mental health concerns and anything in between.

8. Take a trip.

Book flights early and often. That’s one point in frequent traveler and Dean of the Business School Alan Shao’s travel advice article. He also suggests establishing a loyalty account with a specific airline, getting a morning flight to your destination rather than a later one, and most importantly, making the most out of a trip by exploring locally recommended restaurants and attractions.

 9. Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

You’ll see evidence of the College’s sustainability initiatives all over campus – from the bike-share program to the zero-waste events to water bottle refill stations located on Physicians promenade, in Maybank Hall, Nathan and Marlene Addlestone Library, the Rita Little Hollings Science Center and elsewhere at the College (take a look at this map for specifics). Additionally, you can join clubs and organizations on campus, like the Alliance for Planet Earth or Green CofC.

We hope these resources will help you have a happy, healthy and productive 2015!