Best places around Atlanta to keep your New Year’s resolutions

Runners, walkers and bikers use the Beltline’s Eastside trail. Staff photo
Runners, walkers and bikers use the Beltline’s Eastside trail. Staff photo

With the beginning of a new year and a new decade, why not work on a new you? Creating New Year’s resolutions may seem like a cliche to some, but it's a great way to boost motivation and set positive goals. However, sticking to these ambitions, and accomplishing them, can be a challenge. So, for a little empowerment and a push in the right direction, here are some of the best places in and around Atlanta to help you fulfill four of the most common New Year’s resolutions.

A delicious and nutritious bowl of greens, veggies and chicken served at Upbeet Atlanta. CREDIT: Upbeet Atlanta
A delicious and nutritious bowl of greens, veggies and chicken served at Upbeet Atlanta. CREDIT: Upbeet Atlanta

Eat healthier 

Whether it's to lose weight or to maintain good health, a healthy diet offers endless benefits for the body and mind. Fast food is a convenient option for the tight schedules and chaos of daily life, but luckily Atlanta has many affordable, quick service and healthier dining choices that will make those greasy, fatty foods a thing of the past. Upbeet Atlanta (1071 Howell Mill Road, Suite A, Atlanta. upbeet.com) serves fresh and organic food all day with fruit bowls and smoothies for breakfast and made-to-order bowls topped with a variety of veggies, meats, nuts and dressings for lunch or dinner. They also have house-made flavored lemonades and protein-packed superfood lattes and bubbly kombuchas to drink. Another nutritious spot to check out is Gusto, where for under $10, guests can make their own salad, rice bowl or flat bread served with crispy sweet potato chips and a savory sauce selection including chipotle mango avocado and chile sesame BBQ. There are locations across metro Atlanta in Buckhead, Midtown, Decatur, West Midtown and Chamblee.

The tahini cucumber feta flavor combination at Gusto is one of the most consistent, and tastiest, Mediterranean salads in town. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS
The tahini cucumber feta flavor combination at Gusto is one of the most consistent, and tastiest, Mediterranean salads in town. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS

Resolutions can be more easily achieved as well as more fun with others, so involve friends and family in the healthy eating venture by hosting a cooking class dinner party. Learn how to prepare and enjoy healthy recipes from a professional cook right at home through Cozymeal.com.

Incorporate more nutritious and organic food items into the home kitchen by shopping at Sevananda Natural Foods Market in Little Five Points (467 Moreland Ave. NE, Atlanta. www.sevananda.coop). This independently owned grocery store incorporates local vendors and describes itself as a "vortex of health and wellness." They also host wellness education events, food tastings and yoga classes. Some easy-to-make recipes are even featured on their website.

Exercise more

Exercising is not only essential to healthy body functioning, but has wondrous effects on mental wellness. It can ease depression and anxiety, promote better sleep and improve overall brain performance. While there are numerous gyms all over metro Atlanta with memberships to fit different lifestyles, the motivation to go can often be difficult to rally as well as finding a gratifying form of exercise. An excellent place to start is at the YMCA of Metro Atlanta (ymcaatlanta.org). With multiple locations, they offer programs for all ages including weight loss management, one-on-one personal training and sports such as basketball, swimming, tennis and soccer. They have an extensive list of group exercise classes for all different work-out styles from cardio and flexibility to strength training and resistancey. There are even yoga, pilates, running, kickboxing, water aerobics, Zumba and dancing classes.

Soak in the sunshine and admire the colorful street art along the Atlanta Beltline where they host a variety of free group fitness activities including bike tours, yoga, aerobics, fitness and circuit training, Zumba, barre, pickup soccer, sunrise and sunset hikes, and even a walking and running club. View the full schedule and register online at beltline.org.

Climb right into shape at Stone Summit Climbing and Fitness Center (ssclimbing.com) for an exciting and empowering full-body workout. Learn how to maneuver up and across their massive, indoor rock climbing walls to burn calories, increase flexibility and utilize the body's entire core while challenging the mind and eliminating any fear of heights. Their Atlanta and Kennesaw locations also offer yoga, Pilates and ab-strengthening classes.

Grab a deal at Twisted Taco on Tuesdays. CONTRIBUTED
Grab a deal at Twisted Taco on Tuesdays. CONTRIBUTED

Save more money

The holidays can be expensive so planning to save some extra cash during the new year is a resolution everyone can get behind. Get the most out of each dollar and worry less about breaking the bank by checking out weekly restaurant specials. Wahoo Grill in Decatur (1042 W. College Ave., Decatur. wahoogrilldecatur.com) has two for one cocktails on Mondays, half priced bottles of wine on Thursdays and two for one appetizers from 5-7 p.m. on Fridays. Enjoy an appetizer and sushi special and $13 wine bottles every Monday and Tuesday at EAV Thai and Sushi (467 Flat Shoals Ave. SE, Atlanta. eavthaisushi.com) in East Atlanta. Fontaine's Oyster House (1026 N. Highland Ave. NE, Atlanta. nightcapfoodandspirits.com) has $5 during lunch on weekdays, half off seasoned shrimp every Monday, half off oysters on Tuesday nights, half off crab legs on Wednesdays and $4 bloody marys and mimosas on Sundays. Many Mexican restaurants do $2 taco Tuesday deals such as Zocalo (187 10th St. NE, Atlanta. eatzocalo.com) or the multiple locations of Twisted Taco (twistedtaco.com), Pure (puretaqueria.com) and Tin Lizzy's Cantina (tinlizzyscantina.com). With several metro Atlanta locations, Mellow Mushroom Pizza (mellowmushroom.com)offers daily lunch and drink specials.

Behind the high-level security at the CDC is the David J. Sencer CDC Museum which displays old technologies and highlights information and history of AIDS, smallpox, Legionnaires’ Disease, venereal disease, ebola and much more. (Jenni Girtman / Atlanta Event Photography)
Behind the high-level security at the CDC is the David J. Sencer CDC Museum which displays old technologies and highlights information and history of AIDS, smallpox, Legionnaires’ Disease, venereal disease, ebola and much more. (Jenni Girtman / Atlanta Event Photography)

Another excellent way to save a few bucks is to pack up a picnic and spend the day immersed in Georgia's natural beauty at Sweetwater Creek, Red Top Mountain, Sawnee Mountain, Sope Creek, Kennesaw Mountain or any of the many other parks at just the cost of a $5 parking fee. Find info on these and more at gastateparks.org and nps.gov.

Learn all about the city's roots without spending a penny with free tours of the Georgia State Capitol, the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank's Monetary MuseumHistoric Oakland CemeteryMartin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park and on weekdays explore the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's David J. Sencer Museum.

Buy, sell and trade new and recycled clothing items at Buffalo Exchange in Little Five Points. CREDIT: Buffalo Exchange
Buy, sell and trade new and recycled clothing items at Buffalo Exchange in Little Five Points. CREDIT: Buffalo Exchange

Spice up your wardrobe for cheap by checking out some local thrift stores. Out of the Closet (1858 Cheshire Bridge Road, Atlanta. outofthecloset.org), Intown Thrift (2869 Lakewood Ave. SW. Atlanta. facebook.com/Intownthrift), Buffalo Exchange (1057 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE, Atlanta. buffaloexchange.com) and Rag-O-Rama (in Sandy Springs and Little Five Points, ragorama.com) all sell vintage, used, but still comfortable and fashionable clothing and accessories for a great bargain.

Read more

Nothing relieves stress and takes one far away from reality's troubles quite like a good book can. So, take the new year as an opportunity to dedicate some time to relax, unwind and get lost in a new story for a while. One of the best places to do so is at the Read Shop (4300 Paces Ferry Road SE, Suite 125, Atlanta) in Vinings Jubilee. This quaint little coffee shop has shelves lined with books to choose from, as do several other peaceful coffee shops perfect for reading such as Joe's (510 Flat Shoals Ave. SE, Atlanta. facebook.com/JoesCoffeeEAV) in East Atlanta, Hodgepodge on Moreland (two locations, hodgepodgecoffee.com) or Academy Coffee (660 Irwin St. NE, Atlanta. academycoffeeatl.com).

Katie Ellis thumbs through a book at A Cappella bookstore in Atlanta, a local staple for decades. CREDIT: Jonathan Phillips
Katie Ellis thumbs through a book at A Cappella bookstore in Atlanta, a local staple for decades. CREDIT: Jonathan Phillips

Ring in the new year not only with a new book but with new friends as well by forming or joining a book club. Many independent bookstores host them including the beloved A Cappella Books in Inman Park (208 Haralson Ave. NE, Atlanta. acappellabooks.com) featuring several clubs for all different genres. MeetUp.com also lists multiple local book clubs to join ranging from sci-fan fans to booze and books.

RELATED: Best places to curl up with a book in Atlanta

If in need of some new literary recommendations, Goodreads has awarded the best books of 2019. For fantasy lovers, "The Starless Sea" by Erin Morgenstern tells the story of a boy who discovers an ancient library of another realm. After reading "The Handmaid's Tale," dive into the fictional, highly anticipated sequel "The Testaments," which continues the tale of Margaret Atwood's dark, theocratic, dystopian future. If exploring time travel, déjà vu and the meaning of memories is more of interest, open up Blake Crouch's science fiction hit, "Recursion."