How to Maintain the Drive
1. Accountability: Truth be told, if I had the option of driving past the gym without anyone knowing it, I'd probably speed up! Overcome this temptation by finding a way to become more accountable. These are all great ways to keep you from driving past the exit...

Schedule a workout with a buddy. Enjoying the company of a friend helps endure the torture.

Join a group exercise class. Looking around a kickboxing class helps you realize that if she can do it, so can you.

Hire a certified personal trainer. Rely on the expertise of someone who can educate you and design a custom program.

2. Prepare for Setbacks: Even the most committed health nuts will at one point experience some sort of a disruption to their workout schedule, diet or weight loss goals. Sickness, injury and business trips are just a few examples of events that may unexpectedly come up and get you off track. Realizing ahead of time that this will happen will enable you to get right back on track as soon as you can. When it does happen:

• Breathe, accept it and re-commit to the resolution you started on Jan. 1. Until your setback, you were successful. You were going to the gym on a regular basis, you were eating better than ever before, and you were feeling great about the fact that you were sticking with it.

• Remind yourself that you have done this before and know that you are capable of doing it again.

3. Change It Up: One of the biggest challenges with a new exercise program doesn't present itself right away, but rather several weeks or even months later. Let's be honest: 30 minutes on the treadmill while trying to read lips on the TV, followed by one or two sets on the inner/outer leg machines, may feel new and exciting for a while, but it won't last.

• Try something new! Not only will attempting a go at a new piece of cardio or resistance-training equipment keep the monotony at bay, it will also challenge your body to work harder.

• Changing up your exercise routine on a regular basis helps prevent staleness, and keeps your body guessing and burning more calories.

4. Choose the Right Time of Day: We all know exercise is good for us and needs to be performed on a regular basis. The problem is, many of us aren't able to accomplish this with regularity. If your goal is to wake up early and get to the gym three times a week before starting your day, but when the alarm goes off you convince yourself that beauty sleep is more important -- chances are you need to adjust your schedule.

PM exercise may be more effective. Exercising during your lunch break or right after work are great options. Many experts agree that exercising in the afternoon is associated with the ability to feel more warmed up, lift heavier weights and exercise longer.

AM exercise can be habit-forming. On the other hand, if you have been attempting to exercise in the evening but have found errands and other commitments getting in your way, AM workouts may be your best option. Many experts agree that people who exercise in the morning are much more likely to adhere to a regular exercise program due to the lack of possible schedule conflicts.

5. Hit the Reset Button: So you thought by committing to exercising every day you would create a new habit that would become part of your lifestyle. For most of us, going from 0 to 60 is simply unrealistic and unsustainable.

Adjust your expectations and goals. Don't be upset with yourself for not being able to "stick with it." Acknowledge what worked and what didn't. Take that information and set small, realistic goals.

Check in with yourself. Set a timeframe for re-evaluating your goal and make adjustments if necessary.

6. Find the Right Fit: Have fun, get off the couch, and remember that something is better than nothing. At the end of the day, if exercise feels like work, you are not going to follow through with it.

The most important thing you can do is figure out a way to find an exercise program that is right for you. Exercise is not a one-size-fits-all, but rather an a la carte smorgasbord of tasty entrees that should be tasted and tried until you find the dish that is right for you. Maybe you stick with the first dish you try, or maybe you taste until your palate is fully satisfied.

Remember: There is no wrong or right; fitness is not black or white. Something is better than nothing and stepping off the couch is a step in the right direction.


Ryan Baylor, CSCS, holds a B.S. in Exercise Science and is a fitness educator and certified personal trainer in Los Angeles, CA.