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Try Setting Fitness Goals

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As we prepare for the start of a new year, we have an opportunity to set goals, no matter where we are in the fitness spectrum. Almost everyone can take fitness to another level.

Goals can help us create a fitness plan for the year.

Some of us exercise better knowing there's a reward waiting when we accomplish our goal.

We need to ask ourselves to look through the eyes of a child and find our equivalent of that gold star.

What would give us the greatest feeling of triumph and satisfaction that we can afford?

Rewards are so personal that what works for one person may not work for another.

Brides-to-be sometimes are motivated into working out hard by the thought of fitting into a particular wedding gown.

Others who want to lose weight try to reach a specific number of pounds.

Some athletes look to achieve a personal record or best a rival.

You could reward yourself with a gift something you've always wanted to buy for yourself.

Or sometimes, the reward could be intangible: You feel vibrant, strong, healthy and fit.

Here are some ideas on possible fitness goals:

Compete in an event. If you're a walker, sign up for a fund-raising walk once a month. You might even be able to train with a group. Most popular sports have groups or clubs that you can join so you can train safely and receive great instruction. If you're a cyclist or a runner, get a schedule of races by checking with local stores specializing in these sports.

Or you can combining separate sports and compete in duathlon or triathlon. Some people think triathlons are completely unachievable. Remember that there are much, much shorter races than the famous Ironman in Kona.

Go on an active vacation, and train for it. One of my neighbors planned a vacation in Utah. He took a mountain-biking expedition in Moab with friends, then joined his family for hiking and sightseeing. He trained for the mountain-bike portion by riding every day on local trails.

Try something that you've always been curious about. You've stood at the door, watching others at group exercise classes. It's time you stepped through the threshold. Yes, it might be tough at first, so get over your initial embarrassment at being the beginner in the group. Remember that almost everything gets easier with time. Among the most satisfying experiences for me over the years of taking cardio-dance classes is seeing colleagues of all shapes, sizes and ages who once could not dance having a ball. They never gave up and kept on attending classes until they finally found their groove.

Work on your weakest link. What's the aspect of your fitness that needs a lot of help? Is it your strength? Cardiovascular endurance? Flexibility? Balance? Chances are, it's the one you spend the least time on. Yet, neglecting the weakest component of your fitness may actually be what's holding you back from realizing more of your athletic potential.


(Lisa Liddane is a health and fitness writer for The Orange County Register and an American Council on Exercise-certified group fitness instructor. Write to her at the Register, P.O. Box 11626, Santa Ana, Calif. 92711 or send e-mail to


(c) 2003, The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.). Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.

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