01/21/2014 02:31 EST | Updated 03/23/2014 05:59 EDT

Six Ways to Really Keep Fitness Resolutions


"Why am I doing this?"

That's what I couldn't help but think as -14 C winds stung the right side of my face.

Struggling to keep up with my run group is not something I'm used to. I'm the runner who forgets about the kilometres on long Sunday runs because I'm busy socializing. I met three of my closest friends running and love the feeling of finishing a big workout before most people start thinking about breakfast.

But a sore left foot and jet lag after two whirlwind weeks Down Under made me feel as though I was reliving my first run...ever.

"I...hate...this," I muttered softly enough so that no one would hear. A few metres later I chose to turn around and run home alone. The gal who used to cringe at the thought of running solo and thrives in a group atmosphere wanted to run home in silence rather than take one step further.

Something is wrong here, and I know I'm not alone.

This week is notoriously known as a tough one for Canadians. Credit card bills from the holidays have arrived, spring is nowhere in sight and it's around the time that enthusiastic New Year's fitness resolutions fizzle out and die.

Mine are at risk too.

Admittedly, I used to get annoyed each January as newbies flooded the gym. I'd resent the fact that I'd have to wait to use a treadmill and couldn't find a locker when just a few weeks prior, I had the run of the place. I knew it was only a matter of time before the gym would go back to the "regular" crowd. Immature thinking, yes, and now as I struggle, I understand how wrong I was to judge.

I take for granted how natural being active and sweating feels now, but it wasn't always that way. Like the majority of people starting out, I was intimidated in the weight room (still am!) and could barely run for 10 minutes when I decided I wanted to learn how to run. Factor in the busyness of having kids, a career and other responsibilities, and it's easy to see why so many people can't fit physical activity into their lives, or give up after a few weeks.

Before the holidays, I toyed with the idea of training for my second marathon. A distance I swore I'd never do again because of the time it takes to train safely and the havoc it wreaks on my body, I got wrapped up in the excitement of shaving a ton of time off of my previous PB and getting in the best shape of my life while doing it.

But like anything in life, goals have to change when the circumstances do. In my case, I have to heal an injury and that means a half-marathon will be more manageable than a full one. Quitting is not an option, but adjusting my expectations is. Here's six more tips I'm following to keep my fitness resolutions on track this year. What keeps you motivated? Let me know in the comment section below.

1. Do something different

Whether it's your first time in a gym, you want to lose weight, or you're looking to up the ante from a 5k to 10k, it's important to supplement the workouts you're used to with ones you aren't. If you're a runner, try to fit in some strength training with weights or a yoga class to increase your flexibility. A dance class, rock climbing or anything that gets you out of a gym setting once a week is another great way to shake things up. If you've joined a gym for the first time, everything will be new so enjoy learning how to use the machines safely. That alone is a goal. This week I'm challenging myself to five full-body plyometric workouts with the free Nike N+TC app. As a runner, this will take me out of my comfort zone.

2. Make the time

My colleague, Leanne Gibson, qualified to run the Boston Marathon last fall. She also has three kids under the age of 10 and a busy career in an executive role. If anyone knows something about time management, it's her. The 42-year-old mom found that the only hour she could train during the week was between 6 and 7 a.m. Gibson says she didn't feel as though she was missing family time because the kids were still asleep and she's glad that she took the time to do something for herself. "If you really want it, you just find solutions...a way to make it work," she says.

3. Keep it short

Now that you've found a time window that works, realize that workouts don't have to be an hour-long slog. They can be as short as 15 minutes -- like the ones offered on the N+TC app -- as long as you're doing exercises that target various areas of your body. Beginners should aim to exercise for 30 minutes three times a week. Try to find ways to walk more or take the stairs versus the elevator on rest days.

4. Draw up a plan and track it

It may sound silly, but putting your weekly workouts on paper keeps them top of mind. Take it one step further and create a workout calendar. Stick it on your fridge at home. You'll be amazed by how honest it keeps you. Warning! Don't put your workouts on your phone or email calendar. It's too easy to press delete. Track your physical activity with a Jawbone Up, Nike Fuel or Fitbit band. I check the status of my Jawbone throughout the day to make sure I'm hitting my goal of at least 10,000 steps.

5. Set a goal

I struggle to keep motivated when I'm not signed up for a race. For me, it's too easy to skip a workout when I'm feeling lazy, so I highly recommend setting a goal. Whether you want to lose a dress size or complete a 5k race, set a deadline or sign up for the race and create a work back plan that'll set you up for success. Fitness is more fun with a friend, so try to entice someone to join you.

6. Get support

Another colleague of mine recently documented her 20-pound weight loss journey before the holidays on Facebook. She was honest about the ups and downs of reaching her goal weight and I was delighted to see how her network showered her with messages of support. Start a blog, tell your friends or share your fitness goals on social media far and wide. You'll be amazed at what you get back.

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