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Pen and Paper

Maki says progress is the best motivator. Keeping an ongoing exercise log is the best way for a person to see that they are getting more physically fit, he explains. In a journal or notebook, he recommends that people write down what exercise they did, for how long, and how they felt afterward. They should review their entries on a regular basis, looking for signs of burnout and sources of pride, such as increasingly longer and more enjoyable workouts.

College student Claudia Acosta of Chino, CA, has found that keeping a written list of her workout goals has helped her stay consistent. In addition, she prints out a weekly exercise schedule and posts it on her refrigerator.

"I check off the days that I exercise," she explains. "It makes me feel like I have to do it," she adds. And, when she isn't able to check off a workout, she is all the more driven to exercise.

Enter Technology

People can now take advantage of the advances in computers and other electronics to become more conscientious. The popular heart monitor, for example, alerts its owner when it hasn't been used for three days.

Judging by the variety of virtual training, which keeps tabs on people via email, it may be the wave of the future. Some web sites offer individualized training programs for a monthly fee that entitle the customer to benefit from workout planning and motivational phone calls from a trainer. These programs also offer email updates to the program based on the client's progress. Other sites sell fitness products and offer free assessments based on data entered by the user. Health indices such as the client's body mass index and waist-to-hip ratios are calculated, and nutritional and activity goals are recommended based on that data.

Whatever the technique, making a lifestyle change takes time, Maki says. But once people get into a routine, he adds, "the greatest motivation will be seeing the results."

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