5 Secrets to Fitness Success in 2012

Have you set any health and fitness New Year Resolutions?  Studies show that by mid-February, most people have fallen off the wagon or gotten off it completely with no desire to return.  Here are my top 5 health and fitness tips to live by in 2012.  Ready?  Here goes: Tip #1 - Set realistic goals.  I have to start with this one because without realistic goals you're bound to fall off the wagon sooner.  Goals have to be S.M.A.R.T; Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-specific.  There's no other way to succeed; the more vague your goal - for example, I need to lose weight - the less likely you'll achieve it.  For example, if you want to rev up your workouts set a goal that says this; for the next 3 months I'll do 3 high intensity interval sessions a week.  My cardio sessions will last 45 minutes and be done first thing in the morning.  I will measure my body fat every 3 months to check my progress. Setting a goal like this is serious calls for commitment.  In that case, check-in with your spouse or babysitter to watch the kids or get up early to make sure you do your workout.

Tip #2 - Invest in some stylish workout clothes.  Research shows that the more put together you look in the gym the better you feel about yourself.  I'm not suggesting that you break the bank but I recommend that you get some mix-n-match gear that emphasizes your great body parts (we all have them) and plays down the areas we're working on.  Don't forget good quality fitness and running shoes.  Be sure to take care of your clothes too; wash them in Woolite, hang dry whenever possible, and avoid fabric softeners to extend the life of your clothes.

Tip #3 - Embrace your muscles. There's no way around it, muscles are the in thing.  You can do long bouts of cardio every now and then, but the only way to a sleek, firm body is weight baby; lifting weights that is.  You have to use some form of resistance training 2-3 days a week to become a fat burning machine.  There are a variety of ways to get in strength training but some of my favorites include, bodyweight exercises, kettlebells, bands, and BOSU exercises to name a few.  Don't worry, you won't get bulky.

Tip #4 - Keep a journal.  I can hear you already, I'm not a writer.  Okay, now pick a journal and start writing.  According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) we understate what we eat on a regular basis.  In a nutshell, you eat more than  you realize especially if you're going from memory.  How many of you remember popping that little handful of M & M's in your mouth?  Everything you eat, no matter how small adds up so unless you're keeping a record of it, you can't be sure of your daily intake of food.  If you don't like to write, there are other tools like Sparkpeople to help track your foods.

Tip #5 - Design some creative incentives.  I wish more people would reward themselves for accomplishing their goals.  Rewards can be as simple as getting a massage, attending a concert, or splurging on a wanted item (e.g. golf clubs, city tour).  Whatever you decide make sure those incentives are redeemed every  quarter; every three months you'll receive your incentive.  That's a great way to keep your eyes on the prize!

There you have it!  If you follow these tips in 2012 I assure you that you'll reach your goals.  Remember to be conservative though; 1-2 health and fitness goals are plenty, you don't want to get overwhelmed.  Achieve small successes in order to stretch yourself in the future.

Share your 2012 health and fitness goals.