Ten ways to keep your fitness goals this year

It's January, and admit it. You made a New Year's resolution to get healthy. It's also almost February, so before you toss those resolutions out with the Christmas tree, take a look at these 10 tips from local fitness experts, tricks to help you keep your goal on track.

1. Change the way you set your goals.

Don't just set realistic goals. Create an environment for success with how you achieve those goals.

“Instead of setting a goal like, ‘I want to lose 10 pounds by the end of the month,' say ‘I want to increase the number of days I'm physically active,'” said David Wellman, the head cross-country and track and field at Santa Rosa Junior College. “Make sure your goals for the workouts are set around the process rather than the outcome.”

Being specific is an important aspect of the process.

“It's too easy for anyone, and especially beginners, to slide on vague, nonspecific goals,” said Patrick Temple, a Santa Rosa-based private running coach. “Pick a well-defined goal.”

2. Focus on a routine, not the scale.

We all know the feeling. We step on the scale after eggnog, Grandma's Christmas cookies and NYE parties, and the number flat out scares us.

“Step away from the scale, at least for a few weeks,” said Chris Alejos, owner of Envirofit Gym on Piner Road in Santa Rosa. “Getting back to fitness or just moving again is huge.”

3. Don't do too much too soon.

You just bought new running shoes or a cute new workout top. You feel so great you could run a marathon. But all that energy could be problematic.

“Don't start out too fast,” said Catherine Dubay, general manager of the Montecito Heights Health Club in Santa Rosa. “Americans hate delayed gratification, so they are always looking for that instant gratification. Being patient is crucial to the success of a long term running/fitness program.”

It's OK to be frank with yourself about what kind of shape you're in.

“You need to be realistic and start where you really are so you don't push yourself too hard at the beginning, because you'll just wind up not liking it,” said Deb Greenfield, a running coach with Team in Training, Sonoma County Galloway and Fleet Feet Sports.

“Start where you are, not where you want to get to.”

The goal is to be encouraged, not discouraged.

“Going out too fast or too long in most cases results in individuals getting discouraged, so they stop,” said Luis Rosales, the head cross-country and track and field coach at Piner High School in Santa Rosa. “The plan is for them to be looking forward to the next workout because of the success they had in their previous one.”

4. Plan ahead.

“Each workout should lead to the next workout, building sustainable habits that will eventually turn into a lifestyle,” said Alejos. “Learn what your body needs from a physical standpoint and focus on the basics.”

5. Commit.

Even if you're fiscally responsible, it's easier to pay $50 a month for a gym membership than it is to spend 50 minutes exercising. That's because we're more afraid of committing to a workout than a millennial is of committing to a romantic relationship.

“Put your workout on your calendar as an appointment,” said Shelli Main, owner of Fitness on Fire NorCal in Santa Rosa. “Commit to getting fit.”

6. Get uncomfortable.

There is such a thing as good pain. Good pain is what your lazy muscles feel when they need to be reminded what exercise is.

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone,” said Main, quoting a popular fitness mantra. “Remember your workout is only about 4 percent of your day. No excuses.”

7. You need an accountability partner. Or two.

Someone has to text you to get you out of bed in the morning when it's 28 degrees and California frost is bristling the ground. Your muscles may complain, but if you have someone cheering you on (or commiserating with you), chances are you'll get more done.

“Peer pressure can be a positive influence,” said Temple. “You should have a workout buddy, someone to meet with for workouts who will hold you accountable if you don't show up or start to flake out.”

8. Time your eating and drinking.

We know we're not supposed to eat a bowl of ice cream late at night or have a second cup of coffee past 3 p.m., but what about everything else?

“The top tip I give our clients when starting a new regimen is to avoid iced drinks when exercising and losing weight,” said Deacon Oakley-Carpenter, the owner of YogaOne Santa Rosa. “Sip hot water throughout the day, and drink room temperature when exercising. The system absorbs hot water in under an hour, whereas iced water can take up to six hours.”

Hot water also can boost metabolism and reduce toxins. He also recommends eating your largest meal at lunch time.

“Our metabolism functions most optimally between noon and 1 p.m.,” said Oakley-Carpenter.

“After that, it slows, so if you're eating a large meal after 6 p.m., you might be prone to lethargy in the morning and hyperacidity in the middle of the night.”

9. Learn what motivates you, and write down your goals.

Is it a glass of wine? A better mile time? Your wedding dress? Whatever your goal is, channeling your energy toward it will make a big difference.

“Whatever it is you need, recognize it and set yourself up based on it,” said Dubay. “Is it looking good in an outfit? Then put that outfit on your closet door so you have to look at it each time you contemplate exercise.”

Physically writing down your goals also can make a difference, said Greg Curoso, owner and head strength coach at Sports Performance Training Center in Santa Rosa. “In fitness, you need something to work toward every day to keep you focused and motivated. Writing down your goals gives you a physical, tangible item to put up around the house or at work.”

10. Don't accept negative feedback.

New routines are hard, and chances are good that you will fall off the wagon at times. Forgiving yourself when you mess up is key. Beating yourself up produces nothing but negative mental habits. Words have power.

“Constructive feedback is good, but negative feedback is bad,” said Lawrence Phillips, owner of Team LP's Fitness Playground in Santa Rosa. “The words ‘constructive criticism' kind of cancel themselves out, but constructive feedback can help build the foundation.”

Phillips preaches a mantra called “C.A.N.I.” The letters stand for “Constant and Never-ending Improvement,” as well as “Cannot Accept Negative Input.”

“When you get knocked down, you need to get back up,” he said. “I try and instill this in the athletes I work with.”

Melody Karpinski is the marketing manager for Fleet Feet Sports Santa Rosa and writes a monthly running column for The Press Democrat. Contact her at

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