In a fitness funk? Tips on keeping your resolutions


It's now been two months since you made that New Year's resolution to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

Might your resolve be wearing thin, or might the resolution conveniently have slipped to the back of your mind along with your hopes of getting back into those skinny jeans?

Well, we're not even to March yet, so you've still got time to regain the momentum you enjoyed on Jan. 1.

Here are some tips on how to get back on track and maintain that momentum for the rest of 2007.

Start slowly:

When you begin to work out, you have to remember to start off slowly.

"People who make resolutions hit it full-force and end up quitting," said Ann Raulerson, operations manager for Gainesville Health and Fitness Center for Women. "Taking it slow helps and builds up the endurance to exercise."

Start with a few weight machines and gradually build up, rather than starting with every machine in the gym.

Find the right time:

Raulerson recommends picking a time to exercise that works best for you. A lot of people exercise during certain times of the day, even though that's not when they feel at their best.

If you usually exercise before work, but aren't feeling it, try going after work.

Raulerson warns, however, that exercising too late could throw off your internal clock, leaving you wide awake or not sleeping soundly.

Start a buddy system: Sometimes it is hard to motivate yourself to be physically active. That's where exercising with a friend or relative comes in.

"Buddy systems are good because they keep people accountable," Raulerson said.

Exercise buddies provide motivation, support and make it a lot more difficult to skip a workout.

Does it appeal to you?

If a fitness center isn't your cup of tea, there are plenty of other activities to participate in. Bowling, swimming, yoga and dancing are all forms of exercise.

You can also combine exercise with other activities you enjoy. For example, if one of your interests is photography, why not walk around town taking pictures of nature for a day?

Move more: Make it a daily challenge to find small ways to move more.  Anything that moves your limbs isn't only a fitness tool, but it is also a stress buster.

Simple ways of adding movement to your daily life are taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking your dog, changing television channels manually and mowing the lawn.

Be willing to indulge:

When on a diet, many people try to completely avoid foods high in calories or foods they consider tempting. Complete avoidance, however, doesn't work.

"An occasional small indulgence may help people to maintain a healthier style of eating if they know once a week they can have a special dessert or meat dish," said Elaine Turner, associate professor in food science and human performance.

Turner also emphasized that a diet shouldn't be about giving up favorite foods but preparing them in a healthier way.

This could mean eating smaller portions or preparing them with healthier ingredients.

Drinks have calories, too:

Many people order a salad to be healthy, but at the same time order a regular soda or an alcoholic beverage. People seem to forget that drinks also have calories.

According to a McDonald's Web site, a large Coca-Cola, for example, has 310 calories, which is about 15 percent of your recommended daily intake of calories.

Drinking water, diet soda, unsweetened tea or coffee are wise alternatives with fewer, and sometimes no calories.

Eat like a kid:

Remember those peanut butter sandwiches and waffles you loved as a child?

Turner suggests putting those foods back into your diet ... with a grown-up twist.  If you loved grilled cheese, for example, put it back in your diet, but try using reduced fat cheese and a low-fat butter spread.

Add color to your diet:

Fruits and vegetables come in all different colors and most people would benefit from having more of them in their diet, Turner said.

"Sometimes we get stuck in the same (fruits and vegetables)," she said. "Trying something new once a week could add interest to the diet."

Along with adding variety, foods that are bright in color tend to have more antioxidants, which provide beta-carotene, lycopene and vitamins C, E and A.

Brush your teeth:

If you're a late-night snacker, try brushing your teeth, flossing and using mouthwash right after dinner.  Many people find it less appealing to eat more when they have a clean mouth.