You may have started a fitness program at New Year’s with the intention of losing a few pounds gained over the holidays. That’s great and we hope your efforts were rewarded. But, as you probably know, to keep them off a combination of diet and exercise must remain part of your daily activities. It is not that hard to integrate both and the unexpected outcome is not only a body you are proud to inhabit, but also an improved quality of life. In this article we offer tips and steps to get your mind, body, and health back on track and incentives to stay there.

Experts in the fields of nutrition and exercise physiology recommend that you start slow and keep your initial goals small. Many fitness and wellbeing professionals encourage fitness and nutrition newbies to reward themselves when they have lost those first 5 lbs. Rewards cannot take the form of food or drink, however. Buying that new workout top or sneakers underscores achievement and provides additional incentive to continue. It is also a great psychological approach. After all, when you are new to working out, losing five pounds is doable; saying you have to lose 50 lbs or more to achieve your goal is an invitation to be intimidated and quit.

Did you know? Sports and exercise-related injuries are the leading cause of fitness-routine abandonment. You can prevent or minimize muscle strains and sprains by performing stretches both before and after your workouts. Also it is very important to know your limitations. Using free weights? Start with the lightest possible and advance to heavier equipment only when your muscles are strong enough. You and your trainer will know when you are ready.

There really is strength in numbers and no one has to go it alone. This is not the time, however, to enlist the help of your best friend, the ex-model with the legs and metabolism that will not quit. (Yes, Kel, I am talking about you!) Instead, hire a certified personal trainer who will customize a workout plan and both consult and guide you throughout your journey. Another way to succeed is to join an exercise group of like-minded individuals who will provide the understanding and support you need to reach and maintain your goals.
Make a Grand Entrance at Your Reunion

Another great way to lose weight is for a future event such as a reunion or family wedding. Such occasions mandate that we look our best, and also offer temptations in the form of alcoholic drinks and fatty or sugary foods. It is important to prepare both mentally and physically as they present challenges to our resolve. For an optimal outcome do not think, “By August I will have lost 50 lbs!” Instead, “By August I will be looking and feeling my best to date. I can splurge a little bit at the reunion, but will have to get back on my regimen immediately thereafter.””

Okay now, we’re covered long term incentives. Be sure to remind yourself daily of your goals. Since our weight fluctuates throughout the day, we do not advocate jumping on the scale very often. Numbers are not as important as continuance and resolve. Try to banish activities that will cause you to feel guilty. You know to take a vitamin supplement daily and not to stock your fridge with unhealthy foods and snacks. Cull your wardrobe also, and remove clothes that are not flattering. If you have a thick waist, while you work to whittle it down, wear middle-skimming tunics instead. Ditto tight jeans. Store these items that make you feel bad away in a drawer or trunk. When you see that you have lost sufficient weight and have also toned our personal trouble spots then you can reunite and enjoy wearing them without shame.
Forgive Yourself and Get Right Back Up

Everyone plateaus. That is the easiest time to fall off the wagon and to lose hope. When the scale is not your friend, when your fat clothes are hard to zip up, look instead to your feeling of vitality, as well as the improved quality of your hair, nails, and skin tone. Step up your initiative by drinking more water and strive to focus on the positive. Treat yourself to a lean seafood dinner instead of chicken; mix a colorful salad with more than three healthy ingredients and include nuts and seeds as well as orange sections. Delight your taste buds: try mixing a new dressing with yogurt and fresh herbs. When you feel discouraged, pamper yourself in healthy ways and always keep your goals in sight.

Before we forget, be sure to work in some ‘cheat days’ where you can splurge a bit, or slack off a tad, but remember not to wallow in guilt. There is just no point in turning down a dinner invitation just because you are trying to become fit. If the food is not on your diet, drink a glass of water to fill you up and take small portions and just sample. Decline dessert and ask for black coffee or tea instead. Or did you dine out and eat everything on the menu? Then next day, just get back on your horse and ride over the finish line. Finish line? There is no finish line. Your journey is never over, however if you keep your routines and diet fresh and interesting you’ll never want to return to your old sedentary ways.

Okay now! Your efforts have finally paid off and you have reached your goal. You’re looking and feeling great. Not so fast, however! Maybe now is not the best time to throw out your wardrobe and buy a new one. You’ll stay focused longer if you treat your entire self, not just the cosmetic. All right, go and purchase that designer dress you’ve been longing for, but also consider buying that piece of commercial exercise equipment and staying the course. Many offer hundreds of exercise videos as well as live classes around the world so you’ll never have an excuse that you’re tired of the ‘same old, same old’!

We hope these tips have facilitated your resolve to remain as healthy as possible for as long as possible. After all, we need to take care of our bodies- it’s where we live!