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Maintain motivation

March is a big month for New Year’s resolution dropouts. The gym overflows with new exercise enthusiasts January and February and then all at once, it’s back to only the regulars who have been exercising for years. If you want to avoid becoming another one of the disappearing exercisers, here are a few tips to reignite that fire and keep you moving.

1) Reassess your progress. Instead of pondering this for one minute and going onto the next thing on your agenda, write it down in your exercise logbook (if you don’t have one, please get one). How long have you been exercising? Have you lost weight and/or dropped a dress or pant size? Do you feel more energetic and less anxious? Do you sleep better at night? Are you stronger and more able to do daily living tasks with ease? Have your blood sugar, blood pressure or other health markers improved? A yes answer to any of these questions is proof that exercise is benefiting you and should give you some inspiration to keep going.

2) Avoid exercising only for weight loss. With exercise, benefits tend to become cumulative. You usually notice the small things, such as sleeping more sound at night or having more energy. Significant weight loss, often a prime motivator for starting an exercise program, is a worthy goal but the most difficult to achieve and may require dietary changes along with several months of regular exercise. If you’re not losing weight right instantly, don’t drop out. Call on the support you need from a medically supervised weight loss program and a personal trainer so you can reach your goal. Recognize that thinness isn’t a prerequisite for health. Studies show that active overweight (even obese) people are usually healthier than sedentary slim people. Activity and health go hand in hand.

3) Regroup and keep going. If your workout program is getting stale, reconstruct it so it’s more interesting. Maybe replace one of your strength workouts with a TRX group exercise class for a change for your muscles and your mind. Now that the weather’s starting to warm up, you can do most of your cardiovascular conditioning—hiking, walking, jogging, swimming and much more outdoors where you can look at the mountains and breathe fresh air when exercising.

4) Ask for help. Enlist friends, trainers and group exercise instructors to help you stay motivated. Exercise is always more fun with others. Take a three-mile walk with a neighbor, head to the gym for a yoga class with a tennis friend or pedal away on a noodle in the pool next to a friend while bringing each other up to date on what’s happening with the grandkids. Trainers and instructors want you to succeed so don’t hesitate to call on them to give you that little push to get over the hump. You can get through it. And once you do, you’ll become one of the gym regulars instead of another dropout.

Author:  Susan Dawson-Cook