BY ANNE STANTON
TRAVERSE CITY — No more cellphone chats while driving, vegging out on the couch, or frivolous spending.
This is the New Year and once again area folks are determined to do better for themselves and others.
Charlevoix resident Jenna Vanloo clutched a shopping bag at the Grand Traverse Mall on New Year's Eve. Her spending habits, she acknowledged, had to be reined in.
"I'm going to budget my money better," Vanloo vowed. "I'm a spender."
She also wants to improve her patience with her fiancé, who stood nearby and nodded in agreement.
Jeremy Waller, who watched three young children in the mall's play area, said he and his wife made a resolution last year to lose weight, and they stuck by it. He lost 25 pounds and his wife lost 30 pounds.
The Edwardsburg couple were guided by the 17-Day Diet, but don't let the name mislead — it took them about four months. Now that they're lighter, Waller said they are ready to get active.
Madison Wahl, a 5th grader at Westwoods Elementary in Traverse City, vowed to study more for better grades. Her mother, Sarah McCalley, also reminded her she needs to get along with her 3-year-old brother. McCalley resolved to get more organized because she'll soon have to juggle college studies with three young children.
Olivia Peters, a waitress at a local casino, wants to start giving herself a strict deadline for her projects so they don't drag out for months. Case in point: she was Christmas shopping on New Year's Eve.
Obie Kidd, an assistant manager at the Finish Line, said customers are fired up about getting in shape. People look at the New Year as a fresh start, he said.
Kidd plans to get in on the act; he's resolved to make good on his new gym membership.
"It's definitely an inspiration when you work here and are surrounded by great athletic footwear," he said. "I'm down about 25 pounds."
Others don't bother making resolutions anymore. Brad Noren, of Traverse City, said he doesn't keep his resolutions.
"Let's see: In the past few years, I wanted to lose weight, get closer to my family and find a better job," he said. "Once again, I gained weight and I didn't get any closer to my family."
Seventy-somethings Shirley Covey and Carol Meindertsma reported that they don't have to make a New Year's resolution
"We just do it," Covey said. "The health benefits are fantastic."
They arrive at 6:30 a.m. to walk three laps around the mall. Meinderstma said having a walking buddy provides motivation to show up each day.
Kelly Herbst vowed to refrain from talking on the phone while driving, stick to a stricter diet and become more active.
"I also want to take some things off the bucket list. Sky-diving. I really want to do that," she said.
Laurie Wildman, who was having coffee downtown with her friend, Nick LaRose, joked that she won't complain this year about folks using sketchy drugs and loitering next door to Federico's Jewelers, where she works as a co-owner.
"I don't want to get beat up in the alley," she said with a laugh.
On a more serious note, Wildman said she's going to continue with her vegan/vegetarian lifestyle.
LaRose wants to accomplish his long-held dream of hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. But he still must resolve the question of bathroom facilities before his wife finally agrees to it.