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Getting fit in the new year

With the new year right on our doorstep, the idea of making resolutions is at the forefront of many conversations. The intentions of making resolutions are almost always good, but often the results of these lofty goals are less than favorable. This can result in feelings of failure. Trying to transform your life all at once can be overwhelming and defeating. Instead of making drastic changes, I prefer to try to set small, attainable goals that can be carried out over the entire year.

After the overindulgence of sweets and other goodies associated with the recent holidays, many people resolve to get fit for the new year. Yes, it is always good to be active and make lifestyle changes, but if they are drastic, time consuming and exhausting, the success rate of those goals will plummet. So before you head off to the local gym and sign a 2-year contract, or invest in a shiny new treadmill, try to come up with a manageable plan. Before starting any plan, though, remember that it is always a good idea to consult with a physician.

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If you have not been consistently exercising before the new year, a new routine should be started incrementally. So, instead of planning to lose six inches off of your waist for the year, it may be better to plan that you are going to take a 15-minute walk, three days a week during the month of January. In February, the amount can increase to a 20-minute walk, four days a week.

With this scheduled activity, working out will not just be a bonus; it can change into a fact of life and part of your routine. Every week we have planned activities such as work lunches, kids' soccer games, meetings or nail appointments, so why not make a time slot in your calendar for exercise? When I started working out, my goal was to do some kind of aerobic activity three days a week and do 45 minutes of exercise each time. During the first few weeks, I was going consistently, but around week four, I would start putting off the workouts until later in the week. Other things in my life would start taking priority, and then Friday would come around and I would have to go to the gym the next three days in a row to keep up with my goal. It became overwhelming. This is when I decided to add my workouts to my calendar, just like I do my meetings, dentist appointments and haircuts. I now know that Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings from 7:30 to 8:30, I am scheduled for the gym. This doesn't mean that sometimes I cannot keep the appointments, like when I have an early meeting at work or something at my son's school, but instead of canceling the appointment, I change it. This written appointment for exercise keeps me accountable, and in the long run, keeps me consistent.

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Finding the right time to exercise can also help you stay on track. Initially, I was working out in the evenings after I picked up my son from school and made dinner. This may be a good time for some, but for me, after eating a meal and helping with homework, I became pretty tired. At first I would fight through it, but I found that exercising so late at night made it hard for me to relax before bed. I am not a morning person, but I decided to give morning workouts a shot. The first few mornings were tough, but at the end of the day, it felt great that I could come home and relax having already gotten in my exercise for the day. The adrenaline the workout gave me, which hindered me in the evening, was great in the morning to get me going. The morning exercise time may not work for everyone, but finding a good time that is conducive to your lifestyle is important.

Another benefit from exercising on a consistent, scheduled basis is meeting people to exercise with. Having a workout partner is a great way to keep you motivated and hold yourself accountable. This person can be someone you already know who is currently exercising or a friend or family member who wants to start a fitness routine like you. The person does not have to be at the same level as you, but it is important to find someone with the same motivation as you so that they do not drag you down or help you make excuses for not working out. If you do not have anyone to go with, it is easy to meet a workout partner at the gym or in one of the exercise classes they host. If you are on a routine, you may meet someone who walks in your neighborhood at the same time as you every day. Some good conversation can make exercising seem effortless and the time will fly by.

Yes, it is good to schedule exercise time, but it is also good to include some variety in your workouts. I do go to the gym many mornings, but I also like to walk in my neighborhood, ride my bike or go to a local park on the weekends and hike. If you are doing the same workout day after day, your motivation is bound to deteriorate.

Keeping motivated can be a challenge, but when your pre-holiday jeans start feeling looser, or you notice more definition in your arms, it is hard not to get hooked. If you can ease into your exercise routine, set a schedule and surround yourself with motivating people — the physical transformation and renewed energy will follow.

Kelly Scible is a Reisterstown resident and can be reached at kellyscible@gmail.com.

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