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EXERCISE! Where do I Begin?

7 Easy Steps to Help you Commit to a Healthier Lifestyle



Does this scenario seem familiar to anyone out there? You set out to start an exercise program with the best of intentions. Over spending on a gym membership? Check! A trip to the mall for new running shoes and athletic apparel? Check! You may even make it through a few weeks without missing so much as one workout. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way you hit a bump in the road that knocks you off your path to healthy living. Life tends to get in the way sometimes and kids, work, illness or injury can make it difficult to get back into a routine.

If you have lost your way and are looking to make your health a priority, consider these tips as you press reset, re-evaluate, and refocus on your health.

1. Set your Goal. Ask yourself what you are trying to achieve. There are numerous benefits that come with exercise and healthy living, but what are you working towards? For me personally, exercise is my passion. I use exercise, in various forms, to improve my overall level of fitness as I prepare for and compete in triathlon and endurance competitions. However, for others, exercise may be the means by which they stay healthy enough to coach their child's sports team.

It doesn't matter if you are an athlete or an average Joe, a gym rat or a beginner, if you do not a goal you will never truly achieve anything. Take a moment to consider what you are working towards and what you are willing to do to make that vision a reality.

2. Set a Timeline. Setting a date by which you intend to reach your goal, and creating a plan that will allow you to obtain it, will help you prioritize your responsibilities and stay focused on success. Be realistic when you create your timeline and include possible roadblocks you could encounter along the way. Then, place your timeline somewhere you will see it each day, like the refrigerator door, so it can serve as a constant reminder of what you are working towards.

3. Devise a Plan: Prioritize your schedule to be sure you are making time for your workouts. Identify days and times when you will be able to make it to the gym or head out for a run. Consistency will be what transforms a chore into a habit.

4. Be Prepared: Consider what type of clothing and equipment you might need as you begin your exercise regimen. If you are taking up walking or running, it is a good idea to visit a local running store to get properly fitted for shoes. If you are thinking about bicycling for exercise, assess your interest with a spin class at your local fitness center before going through the trouble of purchasing a bike, helmet, and car rack.

5. Be Flexible: If you become uninterested in your workouts or lose motivation, reassess your goals or try a new activity. Consider joining a running club or a master's swim team. Try working out with friends or entering a local sporting event or league to help increase motivation.

6. Track your Progress: Consider keeping an exercise journal to record your workouts. Tracking your progress will help you monitor your goals, which allows you to see when you are making improvements or if you need to increase your exercise duration, frequency, or intensity to continue improving.

7. Celebrate your success. The first day, weeks, and month are often the most difficult. Do not down play your accomplishments along your journey towards a healthier lifestyle. Share your success with others and be confident in yourself and the positive changes you are making. Reassess your goals as it may be time to tweak your timeline or set your sights on additional goals.

By: Joe Vennare, ATD Sponsored Triathlete