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Goals, not resolutions, for 2014
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It's been a full week of 2014, and I finally made my New Year's resolutions list. Actually, I don't believe in resolutions, as it's too easy to say, "well, I failed so there's no point in keeping it," so I made a 2014 goals list. A goal is something you strive for on an ongoing basis, not a pass-fail concept like a resolution.

My first goal for 2014 is one that 90 percent of Americans probably made: to eat healthier and exercise more. As you may remember, in August I took a fitness challenge along with Journal reporter Nancy Angel. For 30 days, I ate a strict Paleo diet — no grains, no dairy, no legumes, no potatoes, no processed foods of any kind. I also participated in a Latin dance exercise class three times a week and went hiking on the weekends. At the end of the month, I lost 10 pounds and one pant size. I am happy to report that even after I switched from a Paleo diet to a more balanced, yet healthy diet, I continued to lose pounds. By mid-November I had lost 18 pounds! Woohoo!

Then, I turned 40 — and it all went downhill from there.

I was so proud of myself for losing the weight that I decided to indulge for my birthday, which was only a week before Thanksgiving, which led right into the holiday season. Needless to say, I've been trying to recover from my holiday blitz eating since.

My second goal for the new year is to hike as much as possible. Hiking is the perfect exercise for me. It's like using the elliptical machine in the gym, with a better view. It's also a do-or-die situation. You can't decide half-way through a hike that you've had enough for today and go home. Once you've gotten to the bottom of Bear Gulch, the only out is to hike the mile and a half back up to the trailhead.

Also, it's almost a crime not to take advantage of the awe-inspiring state and national parks — all within a few hours drive of Turlock. I've already gotten a good start on this goal. On New Year's Day, my husband, sister-in-law and her husband and I, all trekked to the top of one of the mountains in Del Puerto Canyon.  Last Saturday, the four of us visited Pinnacles National Park, about 20 miles south of Hollister. It was amazing!  The park features an ancient volcanic field with massive monoliths, spires, sheer-walled canyons and talus caves. My next trip will be to the coast and Muir Woods.

My third and final goal for 2014 is to be less stressed. Stress is a good thing; it helps us to make deadlines, think on our feet, and escape attacking bears. But too much stress on a daily basis can mean short tempers, insomnia, and stomach problems. A return to my healthier diet will help with this goal, as will my weekend hikes. When you're atop a canyon wall, you aren't thinking about work deadlines or house chores. There's no cell service, so others can't ruin your commune with nature by asking if you saw your cousin's recent Facebook post. I also plan to use meditative breathing techniques and prayer to help ease my stress load.

While I was making my personal New Year's goals list, I started thinking about the Journal. Of course, like any other business, I have to prepare a yearly budget plan, but New Year's goals are a little different. So, after discussions with the Journal editorial staff, we came up with the following goals for 2014.

First, use the Journal website and social media sites to let our readers know what's going on in the community on a daily basis. We've been using these multimedia platforms to deliver news, features and sports for quite awhile now, but in 2014, we will post an update first, then write a more in-depth story for our print editions.

The Journal's second goal is to use video on a weekly basis as another means to tell the stories of the people and issues affecting the community. This is not a new concept for the Journal, either, but one that will be expanded in 2014. We also look forward to using reader-submitted videos to help tell stories from your perspective.

The Journal's final goal for the new year is you. People will be the main focus for 2014. We will feature the accomplishments, accolades, struggles, tragedies, ambitions,  and day-to-day lives of the people in our communities. You will see these features in our Student Spotlight stories on Wednesdays, Community Spotlights on Fridays, and Know Your Neighbor segments on Saturdays.

Business leaders will be featured in the Journal's Entrepreneur special section in February, local brides and grooms in our Wedding section in March and the area's movers and shakers in a special Most Influential section that will publish later in the year.

Every City Council action and new business opening affects the people who live and work in the Turlock area. We will keep you in mind when we tell the stories of 2014.