Why is it that most of us wait until New Year's to make our resolutions? We resolve to get more exercise or to eat healthier foods or to cut out the sweets. But let's think about for this a moment - is that really the best time to make major changes?

January tends to be one of the coldest months of the year. It's probably not the best time to start a new fitness program when there is no part of you that wants to leave the warmth of your house. Unless you have a home gym or treadmill, take part in winter sports such as skiing or sledding or are committed to doing workouts on YouTube, your tendency will be to stay under the covers and watch TV.

If you are anything like me, by Jan. 1, you most likely have a boatload of leftover delicacies from the holidays - chocolates, dips, chips, cakes, candy, gingerbread, etc. Will power can only take you so far when the "enemy" is lurking just inside your refrigerator or pantry.

Many times January resolutions only set you up for failure, which tends to discourage you from getting back on that horse again.

It makes far better sense to begin a new fitness regime in the fall. Think about it - the weather is just right; not too cold but not too hot. The autumn colors are spectacular this time of year, inviting you to spend time outdoors. Accept that invitation! There are no major holidays in October that require baking or receiving gifts of baked goods or calorie-laden goodies. (I won't mention Halloween!)

The secret to eating healthy is not to use the "D" word. No, not that "D" word! I was referring to "diet." A diet implies temporary. A lifestyle change - now that is what we are going for. A long-term change for the better to increase good health and well-being in your life. Doesn't that stack up pretty well against the "D" word?

Similarly, exercising doesn't necessarily have to mean five days of weight training in a gym. So many activities provide great workouts and don't involve arm curls. Incorporate activities that you think are fun - dancing, biking, walking - into your daily routine. Or grab a friend and try something new. Yoga, Tai Chi, Zumba … there are many options.

So, how does one make healthy lifestyle changes and make them stick? Our goal is to create habits that stick rather than rely on impulse. A habit is merely following an acquired behavior until it becomes almost second-nature.

I chose this topic now for a reason. There are about six weeks before Thanksgiving and 10 weeks until Christmas. If you begin now to form better habits, by the time these holidays roll around, you will be armed with better self-control and be less likely to put on those extra holiday pounds.

If you would like a little help, I can offer some support. In 2006, I created a weight loss program called "Weigh 2 Go" to help residents at Brittany Pointe Estates retirement community to shed weight. Since then, it has been consistently successful in helping dozens of people collectively drop hundreds of pounds. This free program is available online at www.weigh2go.net. I am currently updating it for a new session, which will begin on Tuesday, Oct. 21. For details, you can contact me at the email address below. I'd be happy to help! You can also participate independently.

Aristotle said, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." Smart guy, that Aristotle.

Terry is the fitness instructor at Brittany Pointe Estates, an ACTS Retirement-Life Community in Lansdale. Send thoughts or comments to talburger@actslife.org.