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Hank Lange takes a group of people cross-country skiing at the Brattleboro Country Club on New Year's Eve day, 2015

BRATTLEBORO >> While many people set resolutions for the new year, some studies have shown that fewer individuals keep theirs. A local coach and athlete himself offers suggestions of how to set and reach realistic goals for 2016.

Hank Lange, of Brattleboro, a multi-sport athlete, triathlete and personal health, wellness and fitness coach, says the best way to conquer 2016 is often by revisiting"the basics." This involves evaluating what he sees as the four key elements to wellness: Eating, moving, sleeping and playing well (managing stress). Lange believes that when people come back to these categories and discover where they fall short, it allows them put their best foot forward in reaching an improved lifestyle.

"Each of us has an orientation for nature and nurture of where we are and we can develop more range," said Lange. "It's not being stuck in that one spot, it's sort of developing a range and sometimes that means listening more to our hearts and less to our heads, but it's all highly individual."

Lange helps people discover which areas in their lives could be enhanced and he has done this through his company, "Personal Best," since 1984. He works one-on-one with his clients, typically for a year-long basis and has coached everything from the Master Swim Group at the Colonial Motel and Spa to Olympic triathletes, cross-country skiers and individuals competing in the Hawaiian Ironman, the Boston Marathon and the English Channel swim. However, he has also worked with individuals who are simply seeking to drop a few pounds or "feel good."


No matter what the task, Lange finds that the most rewarding part of the job is watching his clients thrive while facing challenges.

"It's just great to see somebody thrive, particularly if they've struggled, and we all struggle, and to see them fire on all cylinders and see life come together in an integrated way."

Lange says that the four fundamental elements to wellness are attributes that all of us as humans need in order to prosper and that addressing them goes beyond preventative medicine.

"There are all these cultural imperatives, you can look at any number of illnesses or disease states and see that many of them with lifestyle and behavior modification can be influenced," said Lange. "That's not that it's an end-all, but there are fundamentals."

When it comes to ideas for new year's resolutions, Lange believes that all of these ideas come into play when trying to change habits. He says that most new years's resolutions are personal about something that individuals realize they should change, yet many throw in the bag when they feel a sense of failure. Lange says that if individuals cheat their diets, skip the gym or are not following through with whatever goals they have set, they should see it as an opportunity and not a time to punish themselves and give-up. He also emphasizes that it's easier to reach these goals with support or accountability.

"I think we need to recognize that you're probably going to fall short of your goal, but more that you have a strategy and a support system, the more likely it is that you will see success," said Lange. He believes that structure can be widely found in the Brattleboro community from yoga classes, to dance, swim sessions, gym memberships and more. "That type of structure can help,"said Lange. He also noted the advantage of the great outdoors in Vermont and suggested that individuals seek fresh air, perhaps by traversing the network of trails in the area.

For some, the luxury of organized classes does not seem feasible given their limited time and/or money. For the early birds or those that are feeling their wallets to be a bit lighter this year, Lange offers a free community-track workout at 6 a.m. every Tuesday at Brattleboro Union High School. Others might feel disadvantaged from reaching a goal by a physical setback such as injury or disability. However, Lange says sometimes the key is getting in touch with self motivation.

"I have no clients who don't struggle with these same issues. They find that sweet spot, but then the balance changes, things get busy at work, there's a health issue in the family — but it's having that conviction of being able to keep coming back with a certain clarity," said Lange. "With clarity, you can make a stronger commitment, and as your commitment gets stronger, the capacity to change becomes great, but it doesn't happen in one sitting."

Overall, Lange believes that self improvement is highly individual and when setting a goal for the new year, not to be discouraged by failure and give-up. He says that reaching a goal, ultimately involves adapting to changing circumstances and seeking the appropriate resources to help get there- strategy and support. Lange added that success is not based on will power, because that is a finite supply.

"We are the author of our own lives," said Lange. "As your commitment get stronger, your capacity to change gets greater," said Lange.

Maddi Shaw can be contacted at 802-254-2311, ext. 275.