RICHMOND, Ind. (AP) - Still thinking about New Year's resolutions? Most people make them, and the first day of the new year seems an appropriate time.

If you are making resolutions or plan to, here's some advice from community experts that might help you get started.

"The biggest mistake that people make is they make a resolution without making a plan or their goal is too big," said Kim Smith, an American College of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer with Family Fitness Works in Richmond.

Smith said that every year she sees people who join a gym in January, then spend their time "tinkering" - trying "a little bit of this and a little bit of that." Those people quickly can become discouraged at their lack of progress.

"Map out a goal and a plan," she told the Palladium-Item. Do it yourself or get the help of someone like herself.

"It's a myth that having a personal trainer is expensive," she said. "You don't have to meet with a trainer every time you work out."

Smith describes her role as creating a program for her client. The client follows the program for an agreed upon period of time, then the two meet again to adjust the program as necessary. There is a great advantage for the client, she said.

"They don't have to figure it out ... they just have to get to the gym."

It's perfectly acceptable, Smith said, to interview potential trainers. Find someone you are comfortable with, she said, but also someone who will "push you a little bit out of your comfort zone."

Whether you hire a trainer or develop your own plan, it's essential to address eating habits as well as exercise.

"You cannot out-exercise a poor diet," Smith said.

Christie Ferriell, diabetes and nutrition education coordinator at Reid Hospital & Health Care Services, encourages people to "try to find what works for them instead of going with a one-size-fits-all diet. They need to think about what motivates them and what creates results for them."

Ferriell, a registered and certified dietitian, said there is nothing wrong with a New Year's resolution to lose weight, but "I ... encourage people to focus less on the number of pounds they want to lose and more on how they want to feel."

Specific and measurable "smart goals" can help change daily habits and create a feeling of success.

Ferriell gives vegetables as an example. Instead of just saying "I will eat more vegetables," she suggests saying "I will eat one serving of vegetables every day." Once that habit has been established, the goal can be changed to two servings a day, and so on.

"Research shows a person is more likely to reach specific goals," Ferriell said.

Smith agrees.

"Instead of asking 'What am I going to do this year?' ask 'What am I going to do this week?'" she said.

But Smith also warned anyone setting goals that some failure is inevitable.

"You are going to screw up," she said. "The idea is not to be perfect but to learn from your mistakes."

"Any time we make a resolution ... that's good for spiritual growth, that's good emotionally," said Martin Holman, pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Richmond.

The start of a new year is a good time to make resolutions, he said, recommending that people take up some daily practices based on scripture.

First, Holman cited the call for daily study of the Bible in Acts 11:17 to suggest that everyone set aside some quiet time every day.

"We need a time to get away from the stress of relationships, jobs and financial worries," he said.

Secondly, Holman recommends daily prayer.

"It's a way of saying, 'Hey, we can't handle some of this by ourselves. We need a greater strength,'" he said.

Thirdly, "resolve to encourage somebody every day," Holman said, referring to Hebrews 13:3 in the Bible. "People get beat up on a lot these days," he said. "We need to help each other out."

Another good resolution, Holman said, is to "live every day as if this is the day Christ will come." It's human nature to put things off until the last minute, but as a Christian he believes we do not know when the last minute will be. Resolve now to live the life you would want to be living then, he suggested.

Finally, cherish and cultivate the family and family relationships, Holman said.

"In our culture today, I think the most important thing we have in our lives is family."

Michelle Fields of Centerville, who spent time enjoying the snow Sunday at Roosevelt Hill in Richmond, offered her spiritual resolution: "To become more grounded in my faith in God."

Steve Borchers, executive director of the Wayne County Foundation, advises "everyone who's over the age of 18 and has stuff" to have a will and an estate plan and to revisit those plans regularly to keep them up to date.

"Life happens," Borchers said. "Things change. People get married. People get divorced. People die."

Changes that are not reflected in wills and estate plans "can cause unnecessary problems and heartache" for loved ones, he said.

Changing to a new calendar can act as a reminder to update arrangements, but Borchers suggests something more.

"Write a love letter to your kids," he said. The "love letter" he describes is about more than affection.

"Explain what arrangements you have in place and what you want done" in case of your death, Borchers said. "Let people know where everything is and who to call."

Many people give this information to their spouses, but what if a couple dies together?

"Think about what would be helpful to your children if they had to wrap up all your affairs," Borchers said. "Hopefully the letter will never be read."