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How to stay committed to exercise

Sarah Wassner Flynn is a New York City-based writer. She's contributed to magazines such as CosmoGIRL!, National Geographic Kids, Runner's World, Women's Health, Prevention and MetroSports New York. She is also the author of The Book of ...

How to... focus on fitness

Sure, it's simple to promise yourself you'll work out more... Then come late nights at the office, bad weather, and all of the other distractions that may keep you away from the gym. Next thing you know, your workouts are waning, or worse, nonexistent. But there are some simple steps to keep those motivational fires lit -- and keep you hitting the gym regularly. Here are four ways to stay committed to those workouts.

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Step 1: Set a goal…

No one will argue that goal-setting is a great way to get you to an accomplishment. So when you're brainstorming those big ideas, don't just keep them in your head: Write out a list or statement indicating exactly what you want to get out of your workout routine.

Want to lose 15 pounds? Bring down your blood pressure? Finish a 10K? Pick one big (but reasonable!) goal, write it on a sticky note, and display it somewhere where you'll see it on a regular basis -- like on your fridge, on your computer desktop, or on your car's dashboard. Routine reminders of your ambitions will keep you from ignoring them – and keep you returning to the gym.

Check out 4 warning signs that your workout isn't working

Step 2: …and share a goal

Aside from giving yourself little reminders about what you're working out for, share your goals with your family, friends, or gym buddies. The more you let it known that you want to break four hours in the marathon, say, the more support you'll have as you train. Especially on those extra-cold days when the last thing you feel like doing is going for a run, a little encouragement from a friend may be all you need to push you out the door.

Step 3: Grab a friend

No doubt, you'll be more motivated to work out when you know there's someone waiting for you at the gym. So whether it's lifting weights three times a week or just meeting up for a Saturday morning spin, try setting up a standing exercise date with a friend, family member or colleague. Not only can you work on achieving your goals together, but you'll probably be surprised how quickly time passes when you're chatting away!

More on workout buddies: Why a fitness support system works

Step 4: Shake things up

It's easy to just step away your sweat sessions when they get boring. So keep things exciting by adding variety to your workouts. Try out a new class at the gym or test out a different cardio machine (don't be afraid to ask gym staff for help!). You can also spice things up by creating a new workout playlist every week so you'll look forward to hearing a fresh set of tunes and the different beats will help you plow through the tougher workouts.

Also see: Revive your workout: Get back into the fitness groove

Step 5: Find More ways to stick to your workouts

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