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Customize your workout plan

Molly Cerreta Smith loves writing about all things mommy, parenting, food, health and travel. When she's not staring into the face of her Mac, she loves to hike, read, do messy crafts with her kids and compete in BBQ competitions with he...

Workout plans that work for you

Exercise: Some women love it, and some hate it. It's an essential part of keeping us looking and feeling young, healthy and confident, so we all need to make working out a priority. So where do you start if it's been awhile since you've broken a sweat? Customize your workout plan so it truly fits you.

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make time

Most experts recomment approximately 30 minutes of exercise daily (at least). If you can't fit exercise into your schedule every single day, try working out four days a week for about 50 minutes.

Set goals

Determine your goals prior to starting your custom workout program. Your workout should be geared toward helping you reach those specific goals. And whether you are looking to lose weight, tone and slim, or add muscle, your workout should include both aerobic activity (like cardio) and strength training (such as lifting weights) in every session.

Love it

Do what you like. Summoning the energy to work out is hard enough, but the task will seem even more daunting if you just hate the workout program. For instance, if you don't like being yelled at, don't sign up for a boot camp program; the positive reinforcement atmosphere of a yoga class might be much more your speed. Think about the things you like to do, and more importantly, what you don't like to do. The good news is that ways to get out there and move your body are infinite, and you don't need an expensive gym membership to get a workout:

  • Nature lover? Walking, hiking and mountain biking are all amazing workouts that shape and tone various parts of the body.
  • New mom? Programs such as Stroller Strides incorporate baby and buggy right into a fitness routine, so you get the benefit of a workout without leaving your little one.
  • Mover and shaker? If you love to dance, try hula dancing, belly dancing or even pole dancing.

Get out there and discover something new!

Solo or social?

Determine whether you like to exercise alone or if you need the social interaction of a group workout such as a tai chi class. Regardless, you should enlist a "workout buddy" to whom you will be accountable, and vice versa. Even if you don't work out together, you can support each other as you get closer to attaining your workout goals, and keep each other motivated along the way.

Check in

Tracking your progress is a crucial part of your custom workout plan. Before you begin your program, take measurements, weigh yourself and take a "before" picture. Re-measure yourself once a month, and weigh yourself once a week to see how far you've come, then evaluate your workout to see if you need to ramp up your game -- or if you can take a day off.

Make it happen

Don't make excuses! If you are running short on time, consider how you can "combine and conquer." Ask yourself how you might be able to incorporate your workout into another task. If you need to pick up some milk at the store, why not bike there? When a friend invites you to happy hour, ask her to join you for a hike instead. You'll save tons of calories and still get your friend fix.

Reward yourself

Go ahead and splurge a little once you've seen some progress, but avoid using food as a reward. Get your nails done or buy some new workout shoes -- you probably need some by now!

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