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Fitness goals losing allure? February is good time to “resolutionize” your life

February 18, 2002

Now that the hustle and bustle of the holidays has subsided, it's time to think seriously about your fitness goals. Sure, you made a resolution to get in shape on Jan. 31, but that lasted about as long as the Godiva chocolates you got for Valentine's Day.

Forget New Year's resolutions. February is actually the best time to commit to a fitness goal. It's a relatively calm, short, slow month. The perfect time to take stock, focus on a goal and plan how to make it happen.

Here are a few simple tips to increase your chances of success:

Think. What positive change do you want to make? Why? Look back to past successes and failures, not just in gaining or losing fitness but in every aspect of your life. In what situations and circumstances were you successful? What did they have in common? Did you have someone who held you accountable? Were you part of a group? Now, think about the times you weren't so successful. Why? Can you find a pattern? How might that pattern, those experiences, apply to your current objective?

Commit. Now that you've chosen a goal, write it down. Putting a goal on paper makes it real, concrete.

Plan. With your goal at the top of the sheet of paper, work backward, noting all the steps it will take to get there. Be specific. If you want to start exercising, decide what exercise you'll do, when, where and how often. The first step may simply be putting on your walking shoes!

Applaud. Many of us are chronic, negative self-talkers. Break the habit. Tell yourself “Good job,” after an especially trying workout. Yell “Lookin' good!” into the mirror. Now go further. Promise yourself something pleasant for each step you accomplish along the way. Work out 12 times this month? Buy yourself a small gift. Eat healthy all week? Treat yourself to a piece of chocolate. Small rewards will help you stay motivated.

Check in. Constantly evaluate your progress. The easiest way to do this is by maintaining some kind of journal. Note progress and problems. Try to see patterns and make the necessary adjustments. If you have a setback, note why and what you can do differently in the future. Look at your re-evaluations as a time to repair what isn't working and to restart if you've gotten off track.

Get support. Let others know about your goal and ask for their help. But watch out for saboteurs. Believe it or not, people closest to us can unintentionally and subtly sabotage our progress because it threatens to change the relationship they have with us. Again, look for patterns. If you find yourself getting off track, consider whether it might be related to someone else and their needs and expectations.

Celebrate. When you've reached your goal, have a blowout! Forget restrictions for the moment. Heck, forget them for the day and just enjoy! You've done it!