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The Best Way Out Is Through

When you add exercise to your life, the toughest part can just be making sure you keep doing it. As many a New Year’s Resolution-maker knows, it’s easy to get sidetracked — by work or family emergencies, by injuries, or even just by feeling punished by your workout. You may feel particularly anxious about success — if you have a large weight-loss goal, a few weeks of working toward it can make it feel unattainable.

Here are a few big-picture ideas to keep in mind:

Great journeys begin with a few steps. Don’t try to do everything all at once. Do one thing at a time, and spend at least a few weeks making sure it sticks and feels right before you add in something else.

Feel like you can’t even do the basics? You can work up to it. For every tough, demanding movement — from push-ups to yoga poses to lifting weights — there are lots of “progressions,” modifications and intermediate versions to help you get there. Take a look at the right-hand column at Start Bodyweight for examples.

Find things you enjoy. Hate running? Don’t run! There are plenty of alternatives, including walking, biking, swimming, rowing, dancing, gardening, jumping rope, yoga, video exercise programs, joining a sports team, martial arts, and old-school calisthenics, like sit-ups and push-ups. The best exercise is the exercise you actually do.

You don’t have to have a detailed, long-term goal or program. You can start by taking the stairs more often, parking in the furthest spot in the lot, or adding a couple of short walks during your work day. Like more structure? Take a class, and see how it feels – maybe even try a new class a month for a while. If you’ve never really exercised, almost any activity will do you good, as long as you do a little something every day.

Perfect is the enemy of good. If you can’t get to the gym or do a “full” workout, that’s OK. Do something brief during the day, like take a couple of 10-minute walks, and get to the regular plan when you can. You’ll get more out of a daily commitment to a little more activity than 1 or 2 “perfect” workouts a week, especially if you end up feeling sore every time you do get to the gym.

Give yourself the gift of rest. It’s easy to get overcommitted, and for many of us that means not enough sleep — ever! Eating better and exercising more are great, but sleep is equally important. A sleep tracker can give you information about how well (or not) you’re sleeping. At least get your eyes away from computer and TV screens well before bedtime (the light from the displays can make it harder to wind down).

Do you have a favorite way to stay on track?

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