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Q: Every year in January I make a resolution to get fit. Do you have any tips or advice on how to stay motivated throughout the year to continue on a fitness regimen?

Rebecca A. Feist, MA, ACSM-RCEP

A: Everyone must find their own methods for making healthy behavior changes, but three of the most effective are to write it down, change your perspective, and consider what is at stake.

You must write down when you plan to include fitness. If you say "I will work out Monday or Tuesday sometime" - you skip Monday because you figure you can do it tomorrow - and then Tuesday you feel really tired in the morning so you will just go after work - but in the evening you have too much going on then just figure you will catch up with it next time – a next time that never comes. Workouts must be as important to you as a doctor's appointment or child's sporting event. Write it in your planner and DO NOT schedule over it. For a minimum of the first 3 months you must force yourself to never miss your fitness appointments. Let your friends and family know your goal to exercise regularly, when you have it scheduled, and invite them to join you in finding things that are fun to do and can give you variety to keep it interesting.

Change your perspective. If you think about exercise as a chore, as time away from your family that you feel guilty about, or as something that is impossible to fit in then those excuses will most certainly end in failure. If you think about a regimen as positive time for you, an investment in your quality of life, and as a good example for your children to see a healthy behavior you can succeed.

Finally, to give yourself the best chance of making this important lifestyle change, think of why you want to make the change. Being sedentary is the new smoking! A study from Australia in the Journal of Sports Medicine from 2012 showed that every hour sitting takes 22 minutes off our life span and smoking takes about 11 minutes per cigarette. Get up and get moving not only because you declared it as your New Year's Resolution, but because it will save your life!

Rebecca Feist, MA, ACSM-RCEP , Fitness Operations Director, Washington Health System Wilfred R. Cameron Wellness Center

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