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article imageOp-Ed: Avoid becoming another fitness failure statistic

By Lori Weaver     Feb 12, 2014 in Health
While wanting to look better is a common motivator behind those New Year's resolutions to lose a few pounds and get into shape, the need for improved physical fitness continues to be a very weighty issue.
And a costly one, to the tune of several billions of dollars in the U.S. alone. The National Association of Sport and Physical Education estimated that by 2018, obesity is going to cost about $344 billion annually in that country alone—a staggering 21 percent of total healthcare costs.
There is no shortage of reasons why people with the best of intentions on January 1 end up abandoning their fitness routine before spring's first robin is spotted. But fitness experts agree there are certain practices you can adopt to get back in the swing of working out and on your way to a healthier you.
1. Make fitness a priority.
Probably the most-often heard excuse for abandoning a new fitness regimen is, "There just isn't enough time in my busy day!" Does that seem like a refrain that rings far too true for you? Maybe the real issue isn't that you don't have enough time in your day. Maybe you simply haven't made health and fitness the priority it should be, so you aren't managing your day in a way that allows for crucial gym time.
One of the most effective ways to give your daily workout the priority it deserves is to fit exercise into the morning hours, before other obligations and conflicts can take hold, according to Gym Source.
That may mean setting your alarm for a sooner wake-up time, but the payoff will be well worth it. Are you normally a night owl? Once you get in the habit of rising earlier, you may find you are able to get to sleep at a decent hour the night before and get a better night's rest, meaning you won't miss any shuteye.
2. Map your progress.
Schools give out grades, employers give reviews...why not give yourself some regular feedback on your fitness efforts? According to Women's Health magazine, weight loss efforts are generally more successful when you take them seriously. So, think of weight loss or getting fit as your personal enterprise. Instead of avoiding the bathroom scale every morning, hop on and assess your progress.
Contrary to the advice of many popular weight-loss programs, studies have shown that people committed to tracking and recording weight loss progress on a daily basis are more successful in reaching their fitness goals. Plot your daily weigh-ins on a graph and watch your weight trend down over time. Being able to refer to a line graph that provides a visual of longer-term progress can help you get through difficult times when the pounds don't seem to budge.
3. Ditch the junkfood.
When you first began your new fitness program, you probably made a conscious effort to rid your home of as many unhealthy foods as possible. It's not unusual, however, to find those empty calorie foods sneaking back onto your pantry shelves as the weeks roll by, particularly if you share your household with children or a spouse who are not as eager to give up sweets or salty snacks.
But when unhealthy foods creep back into your home, they have a way of finding their way onto your plate. If you live alone or with a like-minded fitness enthusiast, your solution is to take an objective look at your pantry and fridge, then go through the task of throwing out anything that cannot be considered a part of a healthy diet. Replace the junk with some of your favorite healthy foods.
If you share your household with others, try to minimize the amount of unhealthy food brought into the house. After all, you want your loved ones to be healthy, too. If you do feel you need to have snacks in the house for others, try to keep them all in one area of your pantry or fridge.
4. Break the boredom.
If your diet and exercise routine has lost its attraction, you may simply be bored. It's easy to fall into the same workout routine, whether it's following the same path on your morning run or going through the same circuit at the gym at the same time of the day. If you're exercising outside, try a change of scenery or new route.
If you work out at home or at a gym, switch up your usual routine with new moves or by changing up the order. Try a new video for at-home fitness. If you go to the gym, exchange the treadmill for the stationery bike.
The same holds true for your diet. Whether you're counting calories, cutting carbs or just trying to eat healthier, you may find yourself in a bit of an eating rut, especially when you feel pressed for time. After a long work day, it may seem simpler just to prepare a meal you're already familiar with. It's quick, easy and you already know its nutritional value.
But even meals you enjoy can lose their appeal over time and your body can also get used to the same foods, which has been known to slow weight loss. Instead, try some new recipes or even new foods. Cook a meal with a spouse or friend. Anything that breaks up your usual routine is likely to spark your interest in achieving your fitness goals again.
5. Keep a food diary.
It's easy to grab a handful of candy or a couple of chips and think nothing of it. But cheating on your goal of eating healthy, even if it seems infrequent, can be taking its toll on your progress—and few things can ruin your commitment to a fitness plan faster than not seeing the scale move or your body getting toned.
You need to be honest with yourself. The best way to do so is to write down everything you eat, from the moment you wake until you go to bed at night. Chronicling everything you eat has a way of helping you to avoid unhealthy eating habits. It can also be a real eye opener as to your true caloric intake. Best of all, it can be a true motivator by helping you to get your diet under control and helping you to begin shedding those extra pounds again.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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