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Q & A

Got a question about some aspect of mind-body-spirit fitness? Ask! It can be as earthly as "Can a heart monitor really enhance my workout?" (the short answer to that is yes) or as heady as, "Don't I need to sell all my worldly goods and go live on a mountain top to find enlightenment?" (the short answer here is no). Needless to say, we can't answer every question we receive, but we will take one every month and answer it here. If you've got a burning need to know about something, email us, and you may find your query featured next time around.

Last year I resolved to lose the extra 25 pounds I've been carrying. Everything went well with my exercise program for about two weeks, but by February I was back to my old, lazy habits. I'd like to try again, but I don't want to wind up feeling like a failure like last time. Is there any way to create an exercise program that I can stick to?

(Article continued below.)

Don't fret - just because you dropped out of last year's exercise program it doesn't mean you're lazy or a failure. It just wasn't the right exercise program for you. The choice of activities was wrong, or the approach didn't work for you. Maybe you picked the wrong days or time for your activities. The great thing about fitness is that there are no rigid rules - there are endless ways to get fit and stay fit. Let's look at some ways to build an exercise program that will make you look forward to your sessions.

First and foremost, check your goals. While losing extra weight is certainly a noble goal, and something to work towards, it's really not as compelling as you may think. In fact it's rather abstract. What do those pounds really mean? What's going to happen when you lose them? Do you think your life will immediately improve, or do you want to look like you did ten years ago? Don't confuse your desire to lose weight with unrealistic expectations. Fitness involves a lot more than just how much you weigh, so your focus should involve more than just dropping poundage. While you're working on losing those two dress sizes, add a couple, more practical goals - work on being able to easily lift a bag of groceries that was once difficult for you, or walk two miles instead of just one. An even better goal is one that's activity-specific - do you want to learn tennis, or improve your game? Have you always wanted to learn a specific type of dance? Create a fitness program that will help you achieve something, or that will help enhance an activity you are already doing. A trainer can help design an activity-specific program to help you.

Speaking of tennis, dancing, or any other activity that may appeal to you - a fitness program should have a big dose of fun. If you perceive your workout to be all work, then you're going to dread doing it. The human body was made to move and just about everyone has some sort of activity that they have enjoyed doing at one time or another. If you think you don't, then you just haven't discovered it yet, or you do but you've buried it away in the long-ago recesses of your youth. A lot of people who don't think they are athletic find they have a natural aptitude for dance. Others, once they are far away from the competitive frustrations of school discover that they love to run. Quieter types learn that practicing Yoga or Pilates makes them feel strong and serene. Whatever you enjoy deep down inside should be included in your fitness program. What if you're so unfit right now that you can't even think of doing anything fun? Well, make it a goal to work towards being fit enough to enjoy a favored activity - it all starts with taking a few simple steps. What if the only thing you seem to enjoy is walking? That's fine - in fact, walking is one activity that people are most likely to keep doing over time. After a while, you may find that adding a few strength exercises actually helps you feel better when you walk.

Next page >> More Tips on Starting Your Exercise Program >> Page 1, 2

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