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Article - health and fitness

Creating Health and Fitness Goals Year Round

You don't have to wait until New Year's Day to implement resolutions to improve your health and fitness. Regardless of the month or day, you can take action now to achieve your health and fitness goals. Here are some tips to get you started:

* Select one area to work on: Many people make the mistake of trying to make himself or herself into a new person overnight. It's unreasonable to expect yourself to, at the snap of a finger, change habits that you have spent years cultivating. Instead, select one health and fitness area to work on.

* Select a specific goal: Saying that you "want to lose weight" or "get in shape" is too vague. You need to come up with a concrete goal in order to measure your progress and celebrate your success.

* Select a realistic goal: If you've been a sugar junkie for 20 years, you can't expect to go cold turkey overnight. You may be able to cut sugar out for a few days or even a few weeks, but you won't be able to keep it up for the rest of your life.

* Opt for incremental change: In the sugar scenario, outline a series of steps you can take over time to achieve your goal. The first step might be to switch from regular soda to sugar-free soda. After successfully doing that for a month, tackle the next step - maybe a switch from regular to sugar-free ice cream, or restricting desserts to weekends only. Incorporating small changes over time dramatically increases the chance that you'll make it a permanent lifestyle change.

* Get some support: In a society that supersizes everything, it's never easy to stick with your health and fitness goals. Enlist the help of a friend, family member, or co-worker - someone who will help you stay with the program. If your goal is to go to the gym three times a week, for example, knowing that your friend is waiting there for you might be just the incentive you need to make sure you follow through. For extra motivation, put a dollar in a jar every time you go to the gym, then treat yourself to something special at the end of each month.

* Celebrate your success: We're quick to beat ourselves up when we don't reach our health and fitness goals, but we rarely celebrate our successes. When you've achieved one of your goals, give yourself a pat on the back. Treat yourself to a massage, a new pair of shoes, or a night out with your friends.