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Resolve to avoid these four common fitness mistakes

In this column, I often field a variety of questions on how to achieve certain fitness and nutrition goals, such as how to train for a half marathon or the best post-workout foods to speed recovery, and while the focus is typically on positive, pro-active steps for achieving these goals, it's also important to be aware of the things that can undermine your efforts.

According to an article in the December issue of USA Weekend, there are four common fitness mistakes that can sabotage your goals: Viewing your regimen as temporary, focusing on the negative, dwelling on failure and discounting walking.

Establishing a healthy fitness regimen should not be viewed as a means to an end; it's a lifestyle to be adopted and practiced for the rest of your life. There is no finish line, no infinite certificate of accomplishment. Once your goal is met, it must be maintained, so the habits you form must be ones you can sustain indefinitely. No one can eliminate carbs forever or survive on carrots and lemon water alone. No one can resist an occasional dessert, nor should they have to; and no one can change everything all at once. If you've always eaten meat, start by eliminating only read meat or experimenting with meatless Mondays. If you aren't a fan of Brussels sprouts or kale, be sure to eat a variety of vegetables that you do enjoy and occasionally try new ones. The key is to make changes that you can live with for the long haul.

Negative thinking is a detrimental and sometimes self-fulfilling prophecy. It's important to use positive statements such as "I am strong and determined" instead of "I am overweight and unmotivated." When I discuss our family's physical and nutritional values with my daughters, I never use the words "fat" or "weight;" instead, I teach them the importance of exercising and eating well to stay healthy. Focus on what you're doing right rather than what you're doing wrong, and avoid thinking of exercise as a way to lose weight or to look better, but rather as a way to live longer and feel better.

Shervin Pishevar, a managing partner at Menlo Ventures, a leading venture capital firm in Menlo Park, California, says, "If you don't fail, you haven't tried hard enough." Many successful people, from Steve Jobs to Stephen King, have failed while attempting to achieve their goals. Failure is a part of life and we humans are intended to learn from our mistakes. If you gain a few pounds, skip a few workouts, or eat too much cake, forgive yourself, learn from it, and move on. Identify what derails you from your goals and make a plan to avoid similar pitfalls in the future.

Mayoclinic.com notes that walking is a gentle, low-impact exercise that is safe, simple, and accessible to almost everybody, and can ease you into a higher level of fitness and health. Walking lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes, helps you manage your weight, and improves your mood. According to the site, "regular, brisk walking can reduce the risk of heart attack by the same amount as more vigorous exercise, such as jogging." So don't underestimate the value of a brisk walk around your neighborhood.

So, this year, resolve to avoid these fitness mistakes and remember that we must all learn to walk before we can run.

Please email your fitness and health questions to me at leimlight@verizon.net or mail them to:

As I See Fit

201 Railroad Ave.

Westminster, Md. 21157

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