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How to get fit and keep your New Year's resolution

Liz Noffsinger

Now that we are in the first weeks of the new year, it's important to make new health and fitness goals and stay determined until we reach them. When summer comes, we will be prepared for warm weather and skimpy beach clothes, and can stay inspired all year-round. It’s easy to start piling on the thermal Henley shirts and sweaters now, and not worry about muscle tone, but what matters much more than looks is our health. Even if no one else can see the extra padding we put on, our body knows. To help remind ourselves about how important it is to be healthy, it's great to get healthy doses of inspiration from anywhere we can find it.

One way to get that nudge to stay on track with health is from your family. A wonderful form of exercise is actually shopping! Try shopping with family members for an extra fitness kick. If you walk far enough at the mall, it really is exercise. Many walkers go to the mall just to use it as an indoor track. They arrive right when it opens and make a couple of circuits before sitting down for a delicious salad. If you are retired, take advantage of your free time to eat right and start exercising. Many mall-walkers are retirees, and it is free!

Friends are a great source of inspiration, too. One new mother, Jaime, recently had her second child, and she worked hard to get back to her pre-pregnancy weight. She joined a moms’ exercise club on the internet, and led a team of moms. By exercising every evening and cutting out desserts and nighttime snacks, she reached her goals and fit into her favorite old jeans again. Friends can be so helpful and encourage each other for every healthy step you take. List your accomplishments on social networking sites and give each other a big thumbs-up when someone says they ran at the gym. Co-workers are awesome, too. They are always ready to encourage you, or to tease you if you're not eating right.

One other way to find inspiration is to inspire yourself. Keep a sheet of construction paper on your wall at home or work, and every time you exercise, put up a sticker that adds to a scene you create. There are Hawaiian-themed stickers that are really neat, and many other fun scrapbooking stickers you can use. It just makes it a little more fun to record your exercise that way instead of on a chart, and you can look at how much progress you’ve made every day.

You can also keep a healthy outlook by reading inspiring books. Some excellent inspirational fitness books are Gabby Reece’s biography, Big Girl in the Middle, Running: Getting Started by Jeff Galloway, and Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner by Dean Karnazes. It really gets you motivated when you read about athletes like Gabby. Books by the health guru Andrew Weil are inspiring as well. He is a proponent of the Mediterranean Diet. And what about magazines? Running and Fitness magazines have inspiring stories, such as one about a 76 year-old Ironman champion who had had open heart surgery and went on to do even more Ironman triathlons! Talk about inspiring! Commit to exercise, and stick with it. Pretty soon you will be running all the time, too, and who knows, maybe someday you'll be in a marathon, or in the Ironman at Kona. Hey, if you’re going to dream, dream big!