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Kicking off the New Year right

— It is that time of year again — time to “set New Year’s resolutions,” “get in shape,” “work on the waist line,” “go on a diet,” “start fresh,” whatever you want to call it, most people feel the need to reevaluate their habits in January after all the holiday hoopla is over. Usually diet and exercise habits rank high on the list of “needs improvement.”

On Jan. 1 (or maybe Jan. 2), the “hard core dieters” and the “gung-ho gym members” begin their quest. They sweat, grunt, groan, “give up carbs” and step on the scale every day. A month later, most of them find themselves exhausted, sore, injured, hungry, deprived, miserable and frustrated (maybe even a few other adjectives). They may or may not be in better shape or weigh less. If you plan on trying this approach, please reconsider. If you want long lasting success and really want to feel better emotionally and physically, please try this approach…

Exercise:

Set realistic goals. If you cannot see yourself exercising at home or in a gym six days per week for the rest of your life, then do not set that pace to begin with. Instead, choose a frequency you will most likely be able to maintain. For some of you it may be three days per week; for others it may be four or five days per week. Even if it is not as much as you would like, at least you will feel successful following through with your goal. You will probably feel less sore as well (days off allow for much-needed recovery).

Start off at 50 percent. If you have not exercised in a while or have never exercised at all, then begin at a pace that is actually slower than you think you can handle at that moment. Gradually increase your intensity over the course of a week or month. There is nothing worse than working out as hard as you can on the first day of your new mission and waking up the next day so sore that you cannot exercise for the next five days. That is when feelings of frustration and negativity creep in.

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