date published: December 31, 2007

New Year’s Resolutions: every year, we make them in January and by March (or heck, by the end of January) we’ve usually broken them. This year, however, Panorama is determined to help you stick to your self-improvement regimen—while, at the same time, enjoying all Boston has to offer. What follows are five common New Year’s Resolutions, along with suggestions for the best places in Beantown to help you honor those hard-to-keep promises.

Exercise More
If you hit the figgy pudding too hard in ’07, you’re probably dreading a January spent on a treadmill. But rather than shackle yourself to a gym, there are plenty of ways to work yourself back into fighting shape while you’re in the Hub.
   At Healthworks for Women (441 Stuart St., 617-859-7700; 920 Commonwealth Ave., Brookline, 617-731-3030; 36 White St., Cambridge, 617-497-4454), ladies can opt for classes specially-designed for the female physique. Guests can pay a one-time class fee and experience everything from cardiovascular activities like Forza—which utilizes Japanese swordfighting techniques—to the muscle-toning yet meditative tranquility of yoga, to the ferocity of what Healthworks has dubbed “Punk Rope.”
   If you’re willing to brave the elements, the Charles River offers 17 miles of parkland and gorgeous views of Boston and Cambridge for joggers and bikers alike. Throw on some sneakers, head down to the paved path and combine a good workout with a free scenic tour. Or, if you still harbor dreams of being the next Michelle Kwan, you can strap on some skates and go gliding across the Boston Common Frog Pond, soaking up the beauty of America’s oldest public park, daily beginning at 10 a.m. Refer to ice skating listing.

Eat Healthier
After a solid month of eggnog, fudge, and Christmas ham, by January your body is craving some healthier fare. Calm those cries for nourishment by visiting some Boston eateries boasting options to soothe both your ravenous appetite and your guilty conscience.
   For healthily prepared foods with a Mediterranean flair, Back Bay eatery Vlora (545 Boylston St., 617-638-9699) delights diners with whole wheat pasta aglio, its juicy watermelon and feta appetizer and a range of fresh salads and light grilled fish dishes.
   If you need healthy eats on the go, the health-conscious fast food of B. Good (24 Dunster St., Cambridge, 617-354-6500; 272 Newbury St., 617-236-0440; other locations in Boston and Brookline) deliciously fits the bill. B. Good’s array of lean-beef burgers on whole-wheat buns and hand cut, oven-crisped (not fried) French fries taste so good you’ll refuse to believe they’re good for you.
   For funky, organic fare, Veggie Planet Pizza (47 Palmer St., Cambridge, 617-661-1513) and The Other Side Café (refer to back bay restaurants listing) are must-dine destinations. Choose from the organic pizzas with locally grown produce and inventive salads at Veggie Planet, or wash down your vegan chili with a wheatgrass smoothie at the trendy Other Side.
   There’s nothing healthier than high-protein, Omega-3 rich seafood, and Boston abounds with great options too numerous to list. The city’s most famous—Legal Sea Foods (refer to theatre district restaurants listing)—offers up grilled salmon, delicious lobster, fresh shellfish and pretty much anything else that swims, which will leave you feeling swimmingly yourself.

Spend More Time with your Kids
As the year winds down, you may realize that all that time in the office should have been replaced with playtime on the living room rug—or, better yet, by spending time with your brood out on the town.
   Expose your little ones to the wonders of the natural world at the Franklin Park Zoo (refer to wildlife listing), with its fully heated indoor tropical forest and state-of-the-art gorilla exhibit. Or, if sea-faring wildlife is more your child’s source of fascination, the New England Aquarium (refer to wildlife listing) lets them get up close to sharks, penguins, harbor seals and other flippered and finny friends.

Good to be Bad
So you say you’re not into self-improvement? That your single goal for 2008 was to stop denying yourself and to indulge your vices whenever possible? Sounds good to us. Here’s a few alternative resolutions you should have no problem sticking to.

Eat More Cupcakes: They’re sweet, delicious and portable, making them practically the perfect food. Calories? Hogwash. Resolve to pick up these frosted pieces of heaven and eat them in abundance at: Kickass Cupcakes (378 Highland Ave., Somerville, 617-628-CUPS); Lulu’s Bake Shoppe (229 Hanover St., 617-720-2200, pictured above); or South End Buttery (314 Shawmut Ave., 617-482-1015).

Drink More Alcohol: It’s a scientific fact that alcohol makes people funnier and more attractive. Honestly—look it up. If you want to be funnier and more attractive, spend some time at: Sunset Grill & Tap (refer to allston/brighton restaurant listing); Bukowski’s Tavern (refer to pubs and bars listing); or Match (94 Massachusetts Ave., 617-247-9922).

Take Up Smoking: Because of Boston’s smoking ban, the idea of shivering outside as you puff may not appeal to many. Solve that by hitting Stanza Dei Sigari (refer to north end restaurant listing) to engage in cigar smoking in warmth and comfort, or sample flavored tobacco through a hookah pipe at the Nile Lounge (70 Brighton Ave., 617-418-4173) or Tangierino (83 Main St., Charlestown, 617-242-6009).

—Josh B. Wardrop

   The Museum of Science (refer to museums listing) and Boston Children’s Museum (refer to museums listing) both offer myriad ways to enrich and unleash your child’s imagination. Check out amazing exhibitions and IMAX films at the Museum of Science, or share in your child’s creativity by joining them in the Children Museum’s interactive Play-Space or Art Studio.

Find Mr. or Ms. Right
Determined to find “the one” this year? Boston’s singles scene offers plenty of great places to meet that someone special.
   Hipsters looking for their better half can check out the romantic, Bohemian vibe at The Beehive (refer to nightclubs listing). Decked out in rich colors, heavy drapes and exposed brick, and boasting live jazz nightly, this South End spot offers distinctive cocktails and shareable appetizers, perfect for two.
   If a hardcore Red Sox fan is your ideal match, the legendary Cask ’N Flagon (refer to pubs and bars listing) is the best place to find one. Chill at the bar or head out back to the 400 square-foot dance floor to scope out the clientele. Or if you’re setting your sights even higher, Sox players and other local athletes have been known to frequent Daisy Buchanan’s (refer to pubs and bars listing) in the glitzy Back Bay.
   Felt (533 Washington St., 617-350-5555) has also seen its share of visiting and homegrown celebrities, but it’s the pool tables, party vibe and four levels of entertainment—including special speed-dating events scheduled for January 2 & 6—that make it such a popular spot for singles.

Learn Something New
Forget what they say about old dogs and new tricks. If you want to expand your mind in 2008, Boston offers plenty of spots where you can pick up some new skills and challenge that noggin of yours.
   Want to unleash the artist within? Try a crafty class at Spark Craft Studios (1963 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-441-5200) like Basic Bead Stringing (January 8 at 6:30 p.m.) where you can learn to make funky homemade baubles. Or visit the Museum of Fine Arts (refer to museums listing) where the fully interactive “Drawing in the Galleries” (January 9 at 3 p.m.) activities allow participants to sketch from live models and/or museum collections.
   Or, you can add to your repertoire of useless knowledge at any of Boston’s many weekly Trivia Nights. Compete for cash prizes and, more importantly, bragging rights at The Courtside (Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m., 291 Cambridge St., Cambridge, 617-547-4374), The Purple Shamrock (Mondays at 8 p.m., refer to pubs and bars listing) or T’s Pub (Thursdays at 8 p.m., 973 Commonwealth Ave., Allston, 617-254-0807).
   And if you’ve dreamed of being the next Rachael Ray, start by being part of the audience at a filming of the in-restaurant cooking show In The Kitchen at Rustic Kitchen (Fridays at 6 p.m., 210 Stuart St., call 781-575-1533 for reservations), where chef Alissa Bigelow teaches her trade, cooking up delicious seasonal dishes you can then try in your own home.

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