When I first decided to get healthy and change my unhealthy ways, I joined a small gym.  So many of the people at the gym were supportive, friendly, and kind, and it really influenced me to come back, day after day.  A January Joiner (JJ) is a person who jumps on the fitness bandwagon as part of their New Year’s Resolution.  I’m always a little sad to hear healthy livin’ veterans complaining about the gym influx of JJs between January and March (when, sadly, most people give up on their goals).  Sure, it sucks to have to wait for the treadmill and fight the crowds, but the truth is that everyone starts somewhere, and some of the JJs will stick around and become regulars… and a friendly atmosphere goes a long, long way.


Every year on HTP, I spotlight a handful of JJs – both people who were JJ and are now workout regulars, as well as people who are 2012 JJs and need some extra motivation.  I hope that by sharing their stories, you can be inspired to stick with your own 2012 resolutions.  Perhaps you’ll even offer up a smile or hello to a JJ.  After all, if friendly stranger hadn’t taught me how to work that darn treadmill, I might’ve never gotten into running!


E5Jennifer wrote, “Annoyed with feeling tired and rundown ALL the time, I began thinking about the good-old-days of feeling healthy and beautiful and on top of the world.  Just yesterday I stopped by a gym on the way home from work to get some prices.  I’m a 32 year-old wife and mom.  In my mid-20s I succeeded as a JJ, dropping 45 lbs.  Once mommyhood struck, I was never able to get back into the gym routine.  As time passed, my work days got longer and family responsibilities grew.  Sometimes it feels like my butt is planted in a chair 90% of the day!  Needless to say, the weight is slowly creeping back on, and I feel more and more blah.  I’ve tried to diet but it isn’t working.  I know my metabolism is just too slow due to my lack of physical activity… and the truth is… I miss the way I felt when I was working out…healthy, confident, and way less stressed. Truthfully, I’m past the point of doing it to lose  weight.  What I want most of all is to get my energy back!”


IMG_0817Bethany wrote, “I’ve been in and out of healthy living for the past two years and decided in October to really kick it into gear.  I have about 20 – 25 pounds to lose, and really want 2012 to be the year that I find and stay in my healthy way of life.  I am also subsequently training for my first Half Marathon in March!  So I have a goal that I need to meet, but I want to get there as strong as I can be, and that means fueling the right way, which has always been my problem.  I’ve been recently trying to go half vegetarian and half omnivore.  I am trying to eat less meat for my health and the planet.  While I know for me personally, I can’t go full on vegetarian, I can go a couple of days a week without it.  I want 2012 to be my Healthy Tipping Point year!  I plan on blogging at least daily about my training, and will post daily menus, new recipes and my personal struggles/triumphs for how things are going.” 


Jess was featured last year as a 2011 JJ.  At the time, she said, “Somehow, thanks to a combination of job/life stress and an unfortunate default to laziness, I have gotten out of the exercise habit over the last couple of years. I’m turning 30 this year and it seems like a good milestone to tie to getting back in shape again…”  I emailed Jess for an update, and she said, “The Ups: I’ve gotten better at incorporating exercise into my life on a regular basis and the mental health benefits alone are something I still can’t quite get enough of. The Downs: Derailed with a fractured leg, with accompanying knee damage meant a few months of crutches, with no exercise allowed and/or possible, and then a slow (slooooow… knee injuries suck) return to full mobility.  Overall: I am definitely not taking for granted how lucky I am to be healthy and capable of movement any more. So no running for me at the moment, but yoga, swimming, bike and am slowly moving back to the kind of fitness level I want to be at.”


BeforeafterfaceRebekah wrote, “I was a January joiner in 2011 and about this same time last year, I worried that I would yet again let my New Year’s Resolutions fall by the wayside after a month of two.  Here we are 12 months later and thanks to a Christmas gift of a gym membership, finding the health-centered blog world, and some newfound determination, I am down 35 pounds this year.  I am also the healthiest, lightest, and most confident I have been since starting high school.  I ran my first half marathon in November, and when I started in January I couldn’t even run for 30 seconds.  People ask me all the time "How did you do it?"  They look at me like I am crazy when I say "eating right and exercising."  It is true though, there is no magic pill, it is a constant learning experience, and it does takes work.  A year later I can’t recall a single item of food I wish I had eaten or an extra hour of sleep I could have gotten, I just know how happy I am with the progress I have made!”


340803_10100226929019476_25506222_45805933_346534713_oSara wrote, “My husband and I have been doing a free week trial at the gym near our house before we join. I decided we just have to make it fit into our budget somehow. Our waistlines aren’t going down and we recently had blood tests done for our life insurance policy and it pointed at some things that need to change. I was always very anti-gym. I just felt they were a waste of money–why not just put on your shoes and go run down the street? Walk the dogs? Use the stationary bike? Use weights at home? Well, I know why. There are so many distractions! Cute puppies, sweet kitties, TV shows, laundry, cooking dinner, making lunch and breakfast for the next day, a phone call to make … you name it. Now I completely understand. You put on your shoes, turn everything off and declare "this is for us!" and run out the door to the gym. No distractions-just other like-minded people. Plus, spending money on your health is always a good thing. And so far, this has been a great bonding experience. We are exercising together and helping each other along.  We have signed up to jog the Richmond Monument Avenue 10K! This will be our first "race" and we hope to be able to finish in the 76-90 minute category (that’s how we signed up). It’s in March and hopefully we can do better than 14 minute miles. But we’re not stressing over it, we just want to enjoy ourselves and get our feet wet. But we hope to start training for that in January.”


Can you relate to any of the JJ stories?  Any advice for a JJ?



  • Johanna B December 20, 2011, 3:48 pm

    I just have to tell you that I registered for a 10K. It’s one of my fitness goals for 2012. I haven’t done anything further than a 5K in about 15 years. Can’t wait. I’m also planning on buying an outdoor bike. I think I’d like to ride somewhere other than in my bedroom. Those are a start for 2012.

  • Pam December 20, 2011, 3:53 pm

    Yay commitments! I love that Jennifer is all about getting her energy back – but it seems like everyone else is focusing on weight! I banned myself from using the scale recently (now-husband has long banned it … I can only use it at the gym). I decided to get into long distance bike riding, keep up the weights and the yoga, and just do it for fun.

    I looooove the gym “me” time. But the scale? Sure, I plan on making note of it before and after I leave for my bike tour, but whatever. If my pants don’t fit, I should probably just buy new pants. Because bodies change. And I suspect muscley bike butts might make jeans tighter since my belly looks flatter.

    • Sara December 20, 2011, 5:31 pm

      I’m doing it more so for overall health and a part of that is weight. This extra 30 pounds I’ve been carrying around for the past few years isn’t helping me any and I feel slow and sluggish. My husband is in the same boat. Plus I’d like to be a healthier person and healthier weight before getting pregnant. I don’t step on the scale–I’m going by pants size and how I feel 🙂

      • Charise December 21, 2011, 8:51 am

        I agree with you, Sara. Not everyone needs to lose weight as part of their exercise goals, but a lot of people DO need to lose weight as part of getting healthier, and that doesn’t have to mean fixating on a number on the scale.

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat December 20, 2011, 3:57 pm

    Great post!! I love the positive attitude of all of these ladies and wish all JJs the best of luck for 2012!! I think my best advice would be to take baby steps and reward yourself for even little accomplishments, and to surround yourself with as much positive inspiration as you possibly can. 🙂

  • Nena December 20, 2011, 4:05 pm

    I was sooo nervous last week when I joined the Y. I got into the step/sculpt class and looked completely lost. This one woman came up to me and helped me out. I went to three morning classes last week and everyone has been VERY nice and VERY helpful. It makes me feel good about going to the class everytime I go.

  • Sarah December 20, 2011, 4:08 pm

    I have a completely different view of January Joiners, I love them!!! The main reason is purely selfish… I love JJ’s because it gives me the opportunity to try a new class that I am too scared to try (b/c I’ll embarass myself) the rest of the year. I actaully started doing BodyPump last year as a JJ and have not stopped!!! This year I am hoping to join a spin class. We’ll see how it goes!

  • Paj December 20, 2011, 4:17 pm


    Thank you for being so inclusive and understanding that people at all different levels of fitness can be considered healthy. I agree that everyone has to start somewhere and applaud all the ladies profiled. Congrats on being so motivated & good luck on your journeys!

    • Caitlin December 21, 2011, 10:10 am

      You’re welcome 🙂

  • Sarah M December 20, 2011, 4:31 pm

    This post was really motivating! Thanks for being so positive! Best of luck to these ladies and everyone else out there!

  • Sarah @ w30 December 20, 2011, 4:32 pm

    Hooray for January Joiners – in the post and in the comments!!! 🙂 I wasn’t a JJ, but I had my own moment of resoluation last July (another kind of JJ I guess) that has totally transformed my life. My advice for the JJs:
    – find something you have fun doing (so it’s not just about your looks but how you feel)
    – like Caitlin suggests, create your own reasonable goals so you have something to work toward
    – ignore those that give you the stink-eye – it’s their problem if they never learned how to share, and most people will think you’re a rockstar for just getting out there
    – don’t stress if you eat that extra piece of cake or get busy and skip the gym for a week. This is a lifestyle change so there will be ups and downs – don’t let momentary indulgences derail your ultimate goal. It’s only a “failure” if you never get back in the groove again.
    – go get it, girl (or boy)! 🙂

    • Amber K December 21, 2011, 1:21 pm

      Basically…what she said! These are great tips!

  • Tricia December 20, 2011, 5:06 pm

    Really want to encourage the joiners. I wasn’t a January joiner but after seeing myself twice the size of a friend I was once the same size as I realized something was wrong. I went off to school and got my freshman 15… except for I lost it within a month instead of gained!!! I started working out, eating right, sleeping well. By the time the year was over I had lost 40 pounds and gone from a 12 to a 4. It’s been 2 years and I am still maintaining the weight loss. But most importantly, I’m healthy! My motto is “healthy is the new skinny”! Don’t look for weight loss, look for health and a long life!

  • Ari @ Ari's Menu December 20, 2011, 5:08 pm

    The thing I wish I knew when I began my journey towards health is that it does get easier. I remember trying to start working out and giving up so many times because it just felt so overwhelming and even 10 minutes on the elliptical left me exhausted. Slowly, but surely it will get easier. I would also say (and I don’t mean this to be rude at ALL, just how I feel) why wait until January 1? If this is your goal now, take action today and start early. That way by 1/1/12, you will already be on the road to your goal instead of just starting out! Oh and also, join with a buddy if at all possible! The accountability is so helpful!!

  • Steph @ A Life without Ice Cream December 20, 2011, 5:17 pm

    In January 2009 I didn’t want to be a JJ and let my resolution fall by the side so I decided to “start small.” Add healthier eating in Jan, fitness in Feb and by March I’d be on my way.

    Well… by March I was 6 lbs away from my heaviest ever! But, I got so disappointed in myself I started – it was a Thursday in mid-March. Not “I’ll start next week / month / year.”

    So in a way, being a failed JJ helped me! (almost 3 years and 98 lbs later)

    Welcome to all the JJs!! I hope you kick your goals butt!

    • Caitlin December 21, 2011, 10:10 am

      Good point that small failures don’t mean you have to quit forever! Congrats on your accomplishments.

  • Kristin December 20, 2011, 5:51 pm

    I work at at gym (the YMCA) and I just have to say i love these posts bc it reminds even ME to love the JJ’s! I still dread working Jan-Feb though!!!! haha

  • Corrie Anne December 20, 2011, 5:54 pm

    I loved that put on your shoes and do it for yourself comment.

    Thanks for encouraging us to be nicer to JJ’s. 🙂 They deserve it!

  • Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife December 20, 2011, 6:52 pm

    Beautiful!! I love this 🙂 I work at a gym (I teach fitness classes), so it is FUN for me to see the influx!

  • Shelly @ EpicOrganic.net December 20, 2011, 6:57 pm

    I was a JJ! (Well, does December count?) In Dec 2009, I went whole-foods organic, and a few months later, went vegetarian (and a few months after that, vegan). 2 years later: I’ve lost 107 pounds and ran my second half-marathon last weekend, so it definitely turned into a lifestyle for me. I don’t mind the January Joiners. I wish the best of luck to every one of them and wouldn’t mind seeing the gym MORE crowded – because that’s more people making healthier choices and giving themselves more opportunities to live life to the fullest!

    • Caitlin December 21, 2011, 10:09 am

      AMAZINGGGGGGGGGGGGG. You are so awesome.

  • Lindsay December 20, 2011, 7:35 pm

    I love this post and was waiting for it, so inspiring!! I had a baby this year, so it’s been an adjustment for sure. Thankfully I have an amazing and supportive husband that supports my healthy lifestyle. I think if I have any advice it would be to find a support person, whether that’s a husband to watch your kids or a friend who has been successful and can keep you accountable.

  • Sara December 20, 2011, 8:01 pm

    I love this feature on your blog!! (I started following you this year, so I didn’t catch it last year.)

    I was a “JJ” myself at the beginning of this year, except I didn’t join a gym (my local YMCA) until March. I started with Weight Watchers on January 2nd and then started working out on a near daily basis in February. In March, I joined the Y and in June, I started running. I’m not 70 pounds lighter and ADDICTED to running! (I did five races at the end of this year and am signed up for TWO half marathons next year!)

    Your blog has been a HUGE inspiration for me this year. So, THANK YOU. For this awesome feature and for being someone I could always count on for motivation and food/workout/life ideas!

    • Caitlin December 21, 2011, 10:08 am

      Wow, Sara! Congrats on all your efforts. 🙂 YOU are amazing.

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin December 20, 2011, 8:28 pm

    I love this post! I hope you do more of them. Congrats to all the ladies who were successful JJs. And good luck to the new ones! 🙂

  • Tina @ Best Body Fitness December 20, 2011, 9:16 pm

    LOVE this! It always bothers me how much people complain about the JJ (diggin that term). I always give them major credit! They’re taking steps towards better health and no one should fault them for that.

  • Emily December 20, 2011, 9:20 pm

    WOW Rebekah’s story is very inspiring, congratulations for sticking to your goals! Great job!! Also – all the women are gorgeous. Its great to know that weight is a just a number, women of all sizes can be (and are!) beautiful.

  • Liz December 20, 2011, 10:54 pm

    Thank you so much for highlighting the JJs, Caitlin! I am one of those people who get nervous about going to the gym with all of the people who ‘belong’ there & it’s great to see people supporting everyone being at the gym. 😀

  • Bridget December 20, 2011, 10:55 pm

    Jennifer-Just think of the wonderful example you will set for your kids by taking care of your physical self. I would have loved to have seen my mom take time for herself. Best of luck!

    Also, to all JJ, not all us at the gym that look annoyed, really are. I’m so in my own zone that I look like a total b*tch!

    • Jennifer December 21, 2011, 9:03 am

      Thanks for comment. I know you are right.

      I am watching my parents struggle with their health and I know it’s because of their lifestyle…a lifestyle I inherited. I don’t want to pass those problems on, nor do I want them for myself.

      Thanks for the support.

  • Khushboo December 20, 2011, 11:15 pm

    Great post and congrats to all those successful JJ’s!!

  • brooke December 21, 2011, 12:59 am

    Not a JJ necessarily, but same idea. Ex-athlete and then a second pregnancy, 30 extra lbs. for years – you get the picture. http://actionmama.blogspot.com/2011/12/marathon-motivation-1.html

  • Carolina John December 21, 2011, 8:20 am

    Here in Raleigh we’re so close to the beach we actually get more people joining in march trying to get ready for swimsuit season than we do in January. Yea I do hate seeing the crowds roll in. But it’s encouraging to see so many new faces in there.

  • Samantha December 21, 2011, 8:38 am

    My advice is to not try everything at once! If you decide to limit your intake of food, change the kinds of things you eat, and go for a run every day, you will be exhausted. What worked for me was working up to great exercise habits, then changing how I ate, then reducing the quantity. Everyone is different, but I’ve lost 40lbs by taking it slow.

    • Caitlin December 21, 2011, 10:07 am

      Definitely great, sound advice.

  • Charise December 21, 2011, 8:47 am

    Because I’ve been an on and off gym go-er over the years (although very regular these days!), I am always nice to JJs. What’s the point in being mean to people, anyways? Best wishes to all the JJs and congratulations to those that turned it into a habit – very inspiring.

    I also want to add that I SO agree with Jennifer – when I remind myself how much happier, healthier, energetic, less stressed, and “on top of the world” I feel when I’m working out regularly, it’s much easier to get my butt to the gym than when I say “but I need to lose that extra weight”.

  • Jennifer @ Happiness Here December 21, 2011, 9:12 am

    This will be the first year in FOREVER that I don’t have a resolution to lose weight in the new year. Since I’m 19 weeks pregnant, it’s hard to come to terms with the fact that I’ll have to wait until the baby’s born before I lose a few pounds. I won’t be a January Joiner (my town doesn’t have a gym), but I am planning on starting a walking program in 2012. Hubby and I are also going veg this year. Can’t wait to try some of your awesome recipes!

    • Caitlin December 21, 2011, 10:05 am

      Oh those are great resolutions for a preggers lady 🙂 Happy 2012!

  • Whitney December 21, 2011, 9:21 am

    I have to admit that I am a regular at the gym and I do get irritated in January/Feb when it is slammed and no machines are available. This is a good reminder that everyone has to start somewhere and at the gym is the right place. It is sad that by February it is back to the regular members though 🙁

  • Heather December 21, 2011, 9:53 am

    congrats to the successful ladies here! You are so right, everyone has to start somewhere. I an my first ever half marathon in January 2010 after deciding the january before that i was going to do it in a year. SO I guess I am a JJ to the running community!

  • Irina G (Fit Flexitarian) December 21, 2011, 10:50 am

    I love reading all of these stories! I’ve definitely been a January Joiner (and subsequent quitter) in the past, so this year I actually started training for a New Year’s Eve run in early December as a way to get me started. I know that I’ll DEFINITELY be able to accomplish things this year since I’m literally running into the new year and have been maintaining some exercise for the past month. It’s exciting and I really hope fitness goes well for all of these JJs!!!

  • Alyssa December 21, 2011, 11:59 am

    I do get annoyed when the gym gets crowded, but considering at the season premier of the Biggest Loser my husband and I are always like “HOW do they let that happen? It’s so sad!” I better get my act together and stop whining about having to wait for an elliptical or lane at the pool. My advice is: Exercise is hard. Those of us who exercise regularly don’t have a special power that makes it easy. I have friends who complain about wanting to lose weight, but then say they “don’t like sweating” or “hate walking uphill” (actual quotes). If you do it right, exercise will always be hard, but stick with it, it’s worth it. There’s no easy fix.

  • Amber K December 21, 2011, 1:22 pm

    If you ever “fall off the horse” you can always jump right back on. There’s always a way back up. 🙂

Previous post:

Next post:

Healthy Tipping Point