Making the Most of Your New Year's Resolutions

For people everywhere, fitness is always high on the list of New Year's resolutions. Everyone knows that exercise is necessary to keep fit and healthy but somehow finding the time and place got in the way during the past year. There is something about the New Year that makes us feel that we have a second chance to make things right. However, in spite of the fact that the motivation to exercise is at its highest, New Year's resolutions remain just that…resolutions. Even the grandest of fitness intentions usually go to waste. The following tips can help you make sure that 1997 will the year that you will, finally, get fit!

Ask yourself some questions.
It sounds like a stupid question but ask yourself: "Do I really want to get fit?" The reason you have to do this exercise in introspection is that a lot of people say they want to get fit but, in reality, are not willing to make the necessary changes in lifestyle to achieve it.

Why didn't you get fit last year? What went wrong? Was it lack of time? No place to exercise? Lack of knowledge about what kind of exercise? If you don't find the solutions to these obstacles, chances are 1998 will find you making the same resolution all over again.

Ask yourself what kind of fitness you are looking for. Do you want to get strong? Have more stamina and endurance? Lose fat? Build shapely muscles? Get flexible? Your fitness routine should match your goals; otherwise, you will not get the desired results, lose your motivation, and stop.

"People don't plan to fail, they fail to plan."
It isn't enough to just say you want to get fit. You need a plan. In fact, studies have shown that you need a written plan if you really want to be successful. A good plan will be realistic, achievable, and measurable. Write down why you want to exercise, how you intend to achieve it, and how you are going to measure whether you achieved it or not.

For example, you want to exercise because you would like to fit into your old clothes again. You intend to achieve this by walking briskly five days a week for one hour. You will also drink two bottles of Coke a week instead of everyday at lunch and dinner. Burgers and French fries will be reserved for only once a month. You will measure your progress by trying your old jeans every six weeks at a set date.

Don't be overly ambitious when you start.
You cannot correct overnight the damage done to your body from years of being sedentary. You have to be patient and start slowly. Do only what you are capable of. Exercise doesn't have to hurt to be effective. It is useless to immediately throw yourself into a grueling strenuous exercise routine because you will probably get injured and burned out in a few weeks. You will probably also get thoroughly disgusted with the whole idea of exercising and swear never to exercise again!

Get the support of significant people in your life.
Don't just announce your fitness resolution to all the significant people in your life (if you have said this every year, expect some snickers and snide remarks!) but actually ask them for their support. You'd be surprised how many fitness plans get derailed because a wife gets irritated that her husband goes to the gym first before going home from work. For many people, fitness is not a priority in their lives. Unless you explain to them that you would like to make it a priority in your life, they may, unwittingly, sabotage your plans.

You can be your worst enemy so don't forget to support yourself too. You may feel selfish for working out because it takes time away from your friends and family. Remind yourself that if you keep fit, you will be able to have more time with them while, at the same time, be able to juggle the other demands on your life.

Expect to stumble.
No one is perfect. Sooner or later, you will miss a session or two. Don't panic, it doesn't mean you are a failure. On the other hand, don't let too much time pass before you start exercising again. The longer you delay, the harder it is to start.

Creatures of habit.
We are all creatures of habit, whether good habits or bad ones. Psychologists say it takes around 21 days for an action to become a habit. Try to arrange your schedule so that, by hook or by crook, you complete about a month of exercising. Hopefully, at the end of that month, working out will become a part of your usual routine.

Have realistic expectations.
Motivation starts to wane when desired results are not reflected in reality. If you have been as stationary as a rock for the last twenty odd years, don't expect dramatic changes in six weeks or, maybe, even six months. You will get the results you are looking for but it will take time. The more realistic your expectations are, the more encouraged you will be by the results.

Exchange a big goal for a series of smaller ones.
If your fitness goal is to lose 50 pounds, it may take you a long time to achieve it. Along the way, you may get discouraged and give up. Instead, try setting smaller achievable goals. Congratulate yourself when you lose the first five pounds, celebrate when you lose the next five, jump for joy when you lose the next five, so on and so forth, until you reach your grand goal of 50 pounds. Doing this, you will be encouraged to continue pursuing your dream every step of the way.

January isn't the only time to start exercising.
January doesn't have to be the only time to start getting fit. Any day of the year can be January 1. Every day can be the first day of a new lifestyle. It's never too late to start even if you have been trying to get fit for the last ten years.

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