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So you’ve made the decision to increase physical activity this New Year. That’s great! Exercising is a rewarding endeavor, which keeps you healthy and provides all-around good feelings. It’s also an arduous endeavor.

Now, don’t let that discourage you. Its difficulty is part of what makes it rewarding. You truly have to earn exercise’s rewards. Adopting a healthier lifestyle takes time and hard work. You don’t become ready for a marathon or a CrossFit competition overnight. Many people flock toward the fitness resolution come January, and a third won’t even make it to the end of month – so how do you ensure your resolution sticks?

The first step to maintaining this goal is simple: proclaim it. That doesn’t mean you have to become a “Facebook Over-sharer” or anything. Tell close friends and family of your intentions – better yet, find a partner with similar fitness goals. Keeping a resolution secret makes it easier to abandon it the moment the going gets tough. Have someone to hold you accountable. It doesn’t mean you’re mentally weak or incapable of monitoring yourself; it’s just better to have a team behind you for added encouragement. Additionally, start a fitness journal. Write your goals down, log your exercise. Everything becomes far more tangible this way.

And speaking of goals, consider making both long- and short-term goals – and be specific about it. A broad goal like “exercise more” is open for interpretation and difficult to fully grasp and track. Creating levels to your resolution makes it more manageable and less overwhelming. Furthermore, it’ll be more realistic and easier to log. This way, you can see the momentum build, which helps instill exercising as a firm part of your daily routine.

Properly staggering your exercise is a major key to reaching this achievement, however. Trying to do too much becomes discouraging and is an easy setup for failure. Much of exercising is about building a base, and slow and steady wins the race. In running, for example, you might start out with a few 15-minute runs a week for the first few weeks before you add frequency and duration. Start small, and build: it’s the critical equation to reaching the precipice of success. 

And finally, incorporate what you enjoy. Now, maybe it seems far-fetched to say exercise is enjoyable – but it can be! Everybody has different preferences when it comes to fitness and you may come to find something you enjoy about your new physical journey. Perhaps it’s a favorite running route, a preferred weight machine or go-to recreational activity like swimming or basketball. Hard days will come where you don’t feel like working out. Supplant those feelings by implementing something from your arsenal of favorites. Some type of workout is better than no workout at all. 

You’ve made the resolution now go out there and kill it!