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How to Stick to a Fitness Program

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Norcross steers clear of giving specific strategies on what could help people with their resolutions. He says research shows it's best to give people broad strategies and methods and let them figure out the particulars. What works for one person may not work out for another. Plus, there are variances as to what's available and what's realistic for each individual.

For instance, chocolate might be a good reward for someone, but not for the person who is allergic to it. Writing a to-do list may help someone focus and be ready for change, but the task might overwhelm somebody else.

Tools for Change

Three years ago, Melissa made a New Year's resolution to get in shape. At 5 feet 8 inches, she weighed 200 pounds and felt extremely sluggish. To lose weight, she stopped taking antidepressants, which she says contributed to her growing waistline. She began walking a lot and eventually took up yoga. She visited a holistic doctor, who prescribed herbs and supplements. Then she started to follow the eating habits promoted by Weight Watchers, even though she did not officially join the group. She says her mother was a member and shared the literature with her. She learned how to choose her foods, eat at a slower pace, and watch meal portions.

Today, Melissa is at least 50 pounds lighter. She has stopped checking her weight all the time because she feels fit, and that's good enough for her.

"When I reached my goal, it built up my confidence," says the 26-year-old. "It was very empowering."

Melissa credits her success to a strong desire to be a healthier person and to the various nutrition and exercise plans she has tried. Her weight loss story is, indeed, a complicated one, not like other success stories that usually highlight the effectiveness of one or two methods.

Different techniques work for different people. For some, a diet and exercise buddy may be helpful. For others, quiet time to review their resolutions and write in a journal may be preferable. There are people who are inspired to move with tools such as pedometers and heart monitors. Others prefer to share their progress with a personal trainer, a dietitian, or an online fitness coach.

There are many techniques and resources available for lasting change. There are also various roadblocks to transformation. The trick is figuring out how to deal with obstacles and make change happen in a manner that's right for you.

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Reviewed on December 20, 2005

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