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It’s easy to think you’ll stick with an exercise program every day. But even the most well-intentioned fitness seekers often find their exercise routines derailed for any number of reasons. But professional athletes, personal trainers, and people just like you who have been successful at reaching their fitness goals say the key is to have a plan and stick to it. Here are 6 tips from those in the know to help you plan your fitness program and achieve your goals.

1. Put it in writing

First things first, decide what your fitness goals are: Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to build muscle? Do you want to run 5ks? Do you just want to feel healthier? Once you’ve answered these questions, and determined what activities will help you get there, put the plan down on paper as a way to inspire you to you to stay the course.

2. Build up to it

Don’t try to run a marathon in one day if you’ve never sprinted a day in your life. Be realistic about your fitness level and start out slow or you’ll set yourself up for failure before you get started. You can do this by gradually increasing the minutes your work out, or adding an extra lap, or the amount of weights you lift. Just be patient and you’ll get there.

3. Try something new

Just because you put a plan down on paper doesn’t mean you have to stick with it if it’s not working for you. Maybe your goals have changed or the activities you thought you liked – you found out you don’t. Always be on the lookout for new exercises or techniques that will motivate you to keep going.

4. Measure your success

Whether your goal is to lose weight, build muscle mass, increase stamina, or train for a marathon, be sure to measure your results. Do weekly weigh-ins, take your measurements, or clock your run time so you can see your results. And don’t get discouraged if your progress is slow; you’re building up to it.

5. Take a break

Don’t feel guilty if you have to take a day off. There will be days when your body is telling you to stop or slow down. Whether you’re not feeling well or you just aren’t into it, give yourself a day off to re-energize and recoup.

6. Enjoy it

Just because it’s called ‘working out’ doesn’t mean it should feel like work. The best way to have fun exercising is to make sure your fitness program is something you enjoy doing. And it doesn’t have to be in a gym. If you love the outdoors, try yoga in the park or join a paddleboard group. If dancing in your thing, try a barre or Zumba class. The more fun you have exercising, the more likely you are to meet your fitness goals.

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