Keep on Working On

20 ways to stay on a healthy track.

Every relationship has its ups and downs. Every-thing starts fresh and new before you get into the groove of a normal routine—the spark is fading, but the fun is not. Then, before you know it, ennui sets in: How could I have loved this a year ago?

No, we’re not talking about your significant other. We’re talking about your workout and healthy eating plans. Even if you swear by your three-times-a-week trip to the gym and can’t live without your Luna bar, every routine needs a boost or a revision to make squeezing into those bike shorts exciting again.

Here are 20 easy ways to revitalize yourself, your health and your workout:

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1. Take a cooking class. Learning new ways to prepare good-for-you foods will put inspiration back into your cooking and your meals. It’ll cut down on fast-food runs, too—and that’s always good for the waistline.

2. Shop. Get rid of those old, baggy workout clothes and pick up some stylish, new, sweat-ready duds. You’re making an investment. And if you’ve been wearing the same old, ratty cotton T-shirts to the gym, switching to dry-fit clothing provides a fashion kick and keeps your body better ventilated.

3. Shrink your tunes. Sure, your iPod carries every song you ever thought was groovy, but a full-sized version can clunk on your arm or in your pocket and slow you down. Lighten your music load by picking up an iPod Shuffle instead. It carries 240 songs, clips to your shirt, weighs .55 ounces—and, at just $79, you can get one in every color to match your new workout gear.

4. It takes a village. The gym should be more than just a place to work out—it’s a support system and an outside motivator. Get to know your cardio machine buds.

5. Get measured. Forget the scale. Ask your doctor or trainer to do measurements. This will help you keep track of how much fat you’re losing as opposed to weight. After all, muscle weighs more than fat, and as you replace the flab with the firm, you might not see the scale budge. Getting measured and metered can show you progress a scale can’t, especially as you replace that fat with denser muscle.

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6. Read up. Through your ears, that is. Download the latest bestseller and take the words with you on your next workout. You’ll go further if you need to figure out whether the butler really did it or not. Or download a mega-series like Harry Potter and work your way slim while figuring out what a “muggle” really is. Books are available for download on iTunes.

7. Schedule it. It’s easy to say that you’ll work out right after work, but go a step further and put it in your day planner. “Schedule an appointment to work out, just as you would any other appointment—and keep it,” says Kevin Nolan, a triathlete and CEO of Nolan Painting in Havertown.

8. Date. It’ll inspire you to shape up.

9. Sign up for a race. Go ahead and give that 5K a shot. With a set goal in mind, you’ll have something to work toward.

10. Hire help. No one expects you to be an expert on the best ways to stay in shape. That’s what trainers, nutritionists and dieticians are for—and there are plenty around. If you’re worried about cost, see if your health plan covers these extra services, or if your doctor or hospital has someone on staff who could help you out.

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11. Redo your get-togethers. If girls’ night out typically involves a lot of wine, pasta, chocolate and cheese, suggest a change. Nothing says bonding like sweating. So head to Valley Forge National Historical Park for a bike ride or power-walk the King of Prussia Mall (yes, both sections).

12. Do a 180. Tough guy? Sign up for yoga or Pilates. Girly gal? Give boot camp or karate a try. Who knows? You might find that discovering your inner lotus flower keeps you more centered than kickboxing, or that boot-camping gives you extra motivation to work on your core.

13. Get real. A lot of reality television shows are little more than brain candy, but fitness-focused programs like NBC’s The Biggest Loser and Bravo’s Workout provide drama and inspiration. TiVo a few episodes to watch back-to-back for longer workouts.

14. Occupy your mind. Speaking of TiVo, recording your favorite shows for a workout can keep you on track longer. “I watch them while walking briskly on the treadmill,” says Cristina Giannandrea, an aerobics instructor at Devon Fitness Club. “It’s a great workout, and the time flies because it’s easy to get absorbed in what show you’re watching.”

15. Make a note of it. “Put your goals in writing by saying, ‘As of this date, I will accomplish _________,'” suggests Kyle Steward, another triathlete and vice
president and manager of commercial lending for Malvern Federal Savings Bank. Writing down your goals makes them more real and gives you a visual target to strive for.

16. Keep a journal. Don’t just document what you do and what you eat—write about how you feel. That way, you can link your mood to your workout and eating patterns. Does “bored” always go with “snacked on potato chips,” or “skipped gym” with “sad”? By recognizing these patterns, you can do something to change them.

17. Get a dog. And anything that can fit into a purse doesn’t count. For maximum fitness output, try a dog that likes to walk, like a Labrador, or something hyper, like a Jack Russell Terrier.

18. Get backup. We know—some days you just can’t get to the gym. So keep a few fitness DVDs on hand for at-home workouts, because something is better than nothing. “The website offers a wide variety of fitness DVDs and videos, which are searchable by type of workout and ability level,” says Laura Koster of Berwyn, who has a fully stocked DVD collection. “Anyone can post reviews, which give you a good idea if any of them are purchase-worthy.”

19. Listen to your body. If an injury is keeping you down, get it checked out or change your workout. “I’m still a runner, but my left knee isn’t. I don’t run much anymore,” says Terence Feury, chef at Maia in Villanova. “So I started a few years ago practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which is an ultimate cardio workout.” And much kinder on the knees.

20. Reward yourself. But not with food. What’s the point of working out if a cheeseburger is going to blow away your calorie burn? Putting things like spa treatments, shopping and even short trips at the end of your workout tunnel can keep you on track to reaching your goal.

Our Best of the Main Line & Western Suburbs Party is July 25!