Fitness & Health,  Motivation,  Workouts and Exercises

Keep Your Exercise Goals On Track

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How are those exercise and health related New Year’s resolutions coming along? If you’re like most people, they went by the way side about three weeks ago.  We have such good intentions, yet often fail to keep them. We don’t make them a priority or life intervenes and we get off track and just give up. Here are some of my personal tips I use to keep my exercise and healthy eating goals on track.

Set Realistic, Achievable Goals

If you’ve not had an exercise routine in the past and all of a sudden you are setting the goal of five times a week it can seem overwhelming. After one failed week, you may give up all together. Instead, set a goal you know you can keep. Even if you start with one day a week, it’s one day more than you were active before. As you progress, and begin to enjoy the benefits of exercise, you’ll want to add more days.

Personally, I dislike running. Yet it is one of the most convenient, accessible cardio workouts available. Even though my goal is to run at least 30 minutes each cardio session, I tell myself I only have to run for ten minutes. If after ten minutes I want to quit, I can. Guess what? I rarely do. On the other hand, if I know I have to run for thirty minutes, I procrastinate or come up with reasons not to. A goal of ten minutes gets me on the treadmill or out the door, and once I’m in motion, I stay in motion.

Lastly, don’t think about how long it will take you to reach your weight or health goals. Rather think about how you will feel after today’s workout or not eating junk food for a week. Visualize your cholesterol levels going down (I know, you have to look into your arteries for this!). Setting short term goals provides quicker successes and keeps you motivated for the long term.

Know what you are doing the next day. Be prepared!

Make a Plan 

Know what you are planning to do each day. Yes, unforeseen obstacles may pop up, but a plan keeps you motivated and allows you to prepare. For example, if part of your plan includes going to the gym before work in the morning, have your gym bag packed and ready to go and your clothes laid out the night before. My husband gets up at 4:30 am twice a week to head to the gym. His gym bag is set out and clothes are ready. If he had to open drawers and pull shoes out of the closet at that early hour, chances are he’d elect to stay in bed. And I’d kill him for making noise so early!

If you are working out at home, know what your routine will be so you aren’t’ coming up with it as you go. If you are using a video or DVD, set a time you are starting it and get to class on time!

One other key point about having a plan is to never allow the thought that you don’t have to do it enter your mind. Thoughts like that are insidious and can sabotage the best of plans. If the thought, “I’m going to take today off” or “It’ll be ok if I don’t exercise today” try to sneak in, don’t even contemplate them. Banish it immediately! Audibly if you have to. Be gone you wretched temptation!

Make Exercise Your Friend, Not Your Enemy             

A healthy lifestyle truly is a mindset. Whether it be exercise or eating healthier, you have to view it as something positive, not negative. Instead of groaning about going to the gym or ordering chicken instead of the hamburger, think positive. Phrases like “I’m so glad I get to exercise”, “I’ll feel so good after I’ve worked out” and “This chicken/salad/etc. is so good for me” help you view a healthy lifestyle as a blessing, instead of a curse. You don’t even have to believe it at first! It may take some time, but keep thinking of a healthy life style as your friend, and after a while you won’t be pretending anymore!

You Will Stumble , Get Back Up

Unless you’ve got willpower of steel, you will stumble and have a few setbacks. That’s okay. Mary Pickford, an early film star and co-founder of United Artists, once said, “Failure is not the falling down, but the staying down.” Get back up! While I’m not recommending it, if you listen to that inner voice telling you it’s okay not to exercise for a week you haven’t failed. Just don’t keep listening. Get back on your plan.

A few years ago, I resolved to eat healthier. Part of that plan was to eliminate chips from my diet.  Guess what? I eat chips. Not every day or every week, but occasionally. But giving into the temptation of them once (or twice…) doesn’t mean I tell myself, “Well, you’ve eaten that bag, you might as well eat the next one.” No. I stumbled because the salt was calling me, but the next day I resolved again. And I’ve resolved many times since. So get back up, dust yourself off, and proceed with your plan.

Remember the old cereal slogan?  – Today is the first day of the rest of your life. It truly is. Yesterday’s mistakes don’t limit today’s successes.

I hope these tips I use to keep moving forward with my own fitness and health plans help you stay on track with yours!


I am a certified personal trainer with a specialty in Women's Fitness through NASM, a writer, and a dreamer.


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    Susan Lindsley

    Getting started is so hard and yes, you need to make it manageable. I started a few month ago with a goal of three times a week at the gym, just starting to work out again. Then, I worked on increasing the time and now I’m up to increasing the incline to make it harder. It is hard though. Your background would come in handy.

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      Penny Merritt

      Thanks for the comment Susan! Getting started is the hardest part and you’ve already done that! If you’d like to receive an exercise library and new workouts twice each month, subscribe to my blog. I don’t have them ready yet, but they’ll be available soon.

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      Penny Merritt

      Thanks for the comment Heather! I hope the tips help you. Remember, fitness is a journey. You can start fresh every day, week, or month. The important thing is to not stay down.

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    Well, I already failed at step #1, but I’ve got the rest down! This a great article and a good reminder that everyone has days that aren’t perfectly aligned with our goals, but we can always get back on track. You got me. I’m subscribing!

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      Penny Merritt

      Thanks for the comment Kathy! And for the subscription! You’ll be receiving my Exercise Library and twice a month workout plans as soon as they’re ready.

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    Cheryl Bailey

    Great tips, planning ahead, always makes it easier. I know I have to plan to start my exercise when my husband leaves for work at 6 am. If I don’t then I will sit on the couch drinking coffee and watching the news.


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      Penny Merritt

      Thanks for the comment Sarah! I’m glad you enjoyed it. Come back soon, as I’ll be posting more fitness information and subscribers will receive an exercise library and workout plans twice monthly.

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