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12 Tips to Help You Stick With Your Fitness Program

It's easy to talk yourself out of working out. Even the best intentions to exercise can be overridden with excuses. “I’m too tired,” or "I have to work," or "It's too cold outside." What you need is motivation to turn inspiration into perspiration.

Use these motivational tips to keep yourself on track:

1. Learn to love it. . Studies show that people who are externally motivated -- that is, they're working out just to drop 10 pounds or shrink their beer belly into a six-pack -- don't stick with it. Those who are internally motivated -- meaning they exercise because they love it -- are the ones who stay in it for the long run.

Exercise shouldn't be a chore. The more enjoyable your workout is, the more likely you are to stick with it. Don't limit yourself to weight machines and treadmills. Try different programs -- like yoga or taekwondo -- until you find ones that are more fun than work.

2.Mix it up. Cross-train to keep things interesting and to exercise different muscle groups. Switch from the elliptical to the stair climber. Alternate between machines and free weights. Don't reinvent your entire routine every week; just shift it around a little.

3. Keep at it. No one has perfect form the first day they start strength training. Every workout takes practice. If you trip over your wheels the first time you try inline skating, do it again, and again. Eventually, you'll get the hang of it.

4. Start slow.Running 10 miles your first time on the track won't make you an Olympian; it will just leave you sore, or worse, injured. Take it easy when you're getting started. Maybe you only run a quarter of a mile your first week of training. Add distance and intensity in slow but steady increments.

5. Don't push yourself too hard. There are a few reasons why half of the people who start a new exercise program ditch it within the first year, and one is that they can't keep up with the boot camp pace they've forced on themselves. Learn your limits, and know when you've reached them.

6. Use the buddy system. When your inner demons are ordering you to the couch instead of the treadmill, a workout partner can steer you back in the right direction. It's easier to bail out on the gym than on the friend who's waiting for you there. Studies show you'll also work out longer when you have a friend along.

7. Exercise on your time. Health experts say you need at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, but try telling that to your crazy schedule. It's a lot harder to make excuses when your workout is convenient. If you work too late to get to a gym, keep a set of weights at home. If you can't do all 30 minutes at once, break exercise sessions up into 10- or 15-minute bursts.

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