Change Is Good

The start of a New Year brings out our idealistic side, the yearning to be our very best self –– happy, healthy, wealthy, and wise.

But, without a plan, resolutions to quit smoking, make new friends, and finally get in shape fall by the wayside all too soon.

For those of us outside of the mainstream, success comes easier when our escape routes from old behaviors are tailored to fit our lives. Here are some tips to making your New Year’s resolutions become reality.

Tips for making your New Year’s resolutions stick

Quit Smoking –– According to the American Lung Association, lesbians and gay men are 1.5 to 2.5 times more likely to smoke than straight folks.

Whether your smoking sprang out of socializing in gay bars, the need to fit in, rejection, or dealing with name-calling, the Center’s SmokeFree Project can help you quit. This six-week program works to identify your reasons for starting, eliminate roadblocks to quitting, and arm you with some tips to handle relapse pressure.

Visit or call Adam Steiner at 646-556-9300, ext. 485.

Lose Weight/ Work Out — Do you long to be one of the buffed, shirtless masses or to just trim away the extra ten lbs. you gained over the holidays? Take advantage of January’s no-cost enrollment at David Barton Gym (, with three locations in Manhattan –– Chelsea, Cooper Square, and the Upper East Side.

Or, get 30 days for $30 at New York Sports Clubs (, with 53 locations in the five boroughs.

Those on a tighter budget can check out free open houses at 2020 city branches of the YMCA ( on January 30 from noon–4 p.m., and see if the 12-week Y Personal Fitness Program is for you. The 92nd Street Y at Lexington Ave. ( offers a free trial workout.

Lesbians can head to Park Slope to get fit and empowered while learning karate and tai chi with your sisters, at the Center for Anti-Violence Education (, on Fifth Ave. at Seventh St.

Join a Team — Were you a jock in high school, just a benchwarmer with hoop dreams, or someone who now wants to claim your place on the field? Flex your muscles and find solidarity by joining a gay sports league.

Smack a puck with fellow gays at Or get in the scrum with the Gotham Knights Rugby Football Club (

Cycle around town or out in the country with Fast & Fabulous (, or hit the pavement and prepare for that marathon with the Frontrunners ( Frontrunners offers a beginners clinic starting in March to help new members prepare for the five-mile Pride Run in June. Look for notice of the information sessions in late February at the LGBT Community Center, at 208 W. 13th St., and at the AIDS Service Center, at 41 E. 11th St.

Take it slower with like-minded hipsters playing dodge ball or bowling at

From flag football to swimming to crew and sailing, check out the wide variety of LGBT sports teams at Out of Bounds (

Eat Healthier — Most people don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. For people living with HIV, this can be life-threatening. GMHC’s Nutrition Education & Wellness Program offers six classes a month on topics including food and water safety and eating healthy on a budget, with nutritionist Chef Carlin Greenstein appearing monthly to demonstrate the preparation of healthy recipes. For information, visit, call 212-367-1259, or email

For folks on the run, the fast-food chain Energy Kitchen offers ten locations in Manhattan and Hoboken to pick up high-fiber, high-protein meals. Visit

You can join a community of folks interested in nutrition at the right price –– particularly if you live in Brooklyn –– at the legendary Park Slope Food Coop (, on Union St. just off Seventh Ave. It’s one of the oldest such enterprises and is the largest member-owned and operated –– which means you’ll contribute about three hours a month of work there. What that buys you, though, is a huge selection of foods, including an enormous array of organic produce, at prices you won’t beat anywhere –– and a very good vibe from other members.

Not sure if you should be counting calories or carbs? Gay Men’s Boot Camp can help you navigate the world of healthy eating with Nutrition 101, a free seminar. To register, call 646-454-0777 or (Dean Wrzeszcz’s June 2009 article “Boot Licked” in Gay City News recounted his experiences in the four-week Boot Camp shape-up regimen.)

Find Your Soul Mate — If you’re a fan of online dating, pass by Craigslist and opt instead for sites like and, specifically for New Yorkers, and

If you prefer the up-close and personal, check out the Center’s Date Bait sessions, Single Men Dating, Deeper Dating, or Date-a-Palooza Mixers. Ladies, visit or, or register for the Center’s Dating Madness or Girlfriend Material workshops at

Improve Your Relationship — Found true love, but it’s hit the rocks? Learn how to deal with intimacy problems, anxiety, and conflict, and improve communication in a gay men’s gestalt psychotherapy interactive group, with two groups beginning in February. For information, visit or call 212-645-1152.

A wide range of therapists are also available at the Lesbian Therapists Referral Network. For information, visit or call 212-206-1589.

Advance Your Career — Get the most out of your career and your money by joining Out Professionals (, an LGBT networking group that offers monthly seminars and workshops preceded by a cocktail social hour, professional development, and cultural events, plus career-building workshops and a job bank. Let Out Professionals’ expert panelists help you stretch and protect your gay dollars and your partner’s well-being with their financial, legal, retirement, and estate planning workshops.

Women can enjoy social events and networking opportunities with the group’s women’s affiliate, OP.LYNX.

Make New Friends — New to town or lost all your friends in the break-up? Good news –– New York offers eight million potential new buddies! Do you enjoy theater? Get hooked up with Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS ( to work side by side with theater folks fighting HIV.

Want to get in on those elaborate dance numbers? Join New York’s royalty in the Imperial Court of New York (

Are you passionate about gay marriage? Team up with Marriage Equality New York ( and get involved in the grassroots fight to make civil equality a reality here.

Wish you could meet more leather daddies? Pop into the Eagle (554 W. 28th St.; or check out the next Truck Stop event (, a floating party that takes you around town and around the country.

Help others — Volunteering helps you feel good about yourself and better about making a difference in the world around you. So lend a hand by becoming a friendly visitor to a gay senior through SAGE, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (contact Bertis Shankle at 212-741-3592 or

Or gay it forward by becoming a positive role model to LGBT youth at FIERCE, the Fabulous Independent Educated Radicals for Community Empowerment (, or at the Ali Forney Center, which provides housing and social services for homeless queer youth (contact Bill Torres at 212-991-0853 or

You can pitch in for people living with HIV/ AIDS by lending a hand at a Housing Works thrift shop or used bookstore. Visit