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MintStyle with Rachel Weingarten: How to Set and Stick to Realistic Fitness Goals

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I recently joked to friends that late last year most of the updates on my social networks involved mass food consumption (and accompanying pictures.)

For the first week of the New Year, most of the updates involved or included exercise and diet updates — proving that getting in shape seems to be a universal resolution.

People were also complaining about how expensive it was to attempt to achieve that goal. Junk food is cheaper and gym memberships and Pilates or Yoga classes can be incredibly pricey as well.

The Long-Term Approach

So how exactly can you balance the cost of getting in shape and attempting a long-term healthier lifestyle with your bottom line?

Well, it isn’t easy.

Dr. Derek Ochiai, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in Sports Medicine says, “A lot of times people have New Year’s resolutions to get in shape. They start exercise regimens or try to get too far, too fast, too quickly.”

Dr. Ochiai says this is partially a by-product of living in America: “Sometimes we get excited and motivated for a brief period of time and sometimes we lose interest just as quickly.”

For that reason, he cautions against a rapid increase in activity, which can cause tendonitis, stress fractures and overuse injuries, all of which are avoidable if you take a more long-term approach to exercise.

He says, “Don’t plan on getting in shape in a month, but rather start a regime that you will keep up on for many years.”

As for pricey and trendy equipment [he mentioned Vibram shoes], Dr. Ochiai says, “It depends on your style, goals and reasoning. What are you trying to gain?”

Are you trying to simply get back in shape – or would you rather lose a few pounds? Are you impulsively signing up for classes or buying the latest and greatest equipment instead of investing in what you really need and will use?

Stop before you start and take some time to truly figure out your fitness goals.

The Bottom Line: Don’t try to compete with the goals or equipment of your friends. Work out at your own pace – and on your own budget.

The Mind/Body Connection

If you’re committed to trying something new, why not consider more than the immediate or expected results?

Yoga has been said to allow you to shut off the outside distractions and concentrate on the here and now. So not only do you gain strength and poise, you will ultimately gain a calmer state of mind, too.

Zumba addicts talk about the fun of dancing, spending time with friends and getting back in shape — all at the same time.

If you’re looking for something different, though, boxing seems to be making a big comeback. Danny Campbell, founder of Title Boxing Club, says that while boxing has been popular for centuries, it’s only recently become more accessible.

He also cites the incredible health and stress-busting benefits. “You develop power, timing and stamina and gain results from conditioning the body, which include confidence and weight loss.”

An added benefit of boxing is stress release. “When you’re hitting something, all that stress building up in your shoulders and neck are released.”

Campbell says that when sitting at your desk, you can barely clear your mind for 30 seconds without distractions. “When you get on that heavy bag, all you can think about is that heavy bag. Not bills or kids, only thinking left hand, right hand, left hook, and proper balance. What a mental release.”

The Bottom Line: Instead of choosing a fitness routine that leaves you comparing your exercise clothing, aerobic routine or weight lifting stance with everyone else, choose a regiment that allows you to concentrate on nothing but the task at hand.

Thoughts Become Actions

Sometimes you can have a strong desire to start a new routine, but your brain isn’t as committed as your heart is. For example, you might be so busy worrying about work or relationships that you aren’t able to embrace change.

“Sometimes we’re just stuck in negative ruts and then we become annoyed that we didn’t go out and exercise,” says Savannah DeVarney, VP of Products at mybrainsolutions.com.

DeVarney also says the demands we make on ourselves compete with the demands from others including home, family and work. These stressors “deplete the reservoir that we have for making good choices and if we don’t sleep or eat well, it hinders our ability to make healthy decisions.”

So instead of simply trying to change, try teaching your brain to change instead. A tool like Mybrainsolutions uses a series of interactive games and exercises to discover how your brain works and then creates a behavioral change enhancer based off those findings.

That is a complicated way of saying: This interactive tech tool finds out how your particular brain works and then helps change the way you think.

The Bottom Line: Sometimes external pressures can work against your best intentions. It’s important to exercise your body and brain by eliminating externals that stand in the way of personal goals.

Inspiring Motivation

Sometimes it’s something small that motivates you to get fit and keep working at working out.  So if your ratty old sweats don’t inspire you to work out, consider investing in a great pair of workout pants.

The MovingComfort Sprint Tech Capri (movingcomfort.com) helps compress your various jiggly parts and has a stay put waistband, moisture wicking core and hidden pockets for keys, money and ID.

In this way, you’re not giving into peer pressure — you already feel better, look better and are continuing to work toward your fitness goal.

Rachel Weingarten would love to hear about your fitness goals for the new year. She’s a noted style expert and author of Career and Corporate Cool and Hello Gorgeous! Beauty Products in America ‘40s-‘60s. Visit her online at http://racheletc.com or on Twitter @rachelcw Write to her with your burning style questions at mintstylerachel at gmail.com