Realistic fitness goals for 2010

Dec 11, 2009 at 1:49 p.m. ET

Pumpkin pie. Champagne. Gingerbread lattes. If these are the food groups that defined your holiday season, getting fit is probably at the top of your resolutions list. But don't risk fitness burnout by hitting the gym seven days a week just yet. Ginger Garner, a licensed physical therapist and specialist in women's health, offers her top tips for setting realistic fitness plans for the New Year.

Woman exercise partners

Start small

Take baby steps with your workout plan. "The surest way to failure is to set extravagant goals," she says. "If you must set goals, set a small, reachable one or, instead, set an intention. For example, instead of saying 'I am going to log 30 miles of walking a week,' you might say, 'I am going to get fresh air by taking a stroll during lunch today.' You might be surprised by how much further you'll go if you don't set strict rules."

My Body
  1. Sometimes it is good to play mind games with yourself – especially when it comes to forming new habits. Reverse engineering your thought process is key to changing the way you eat!
  2. Get zen with your fitness plan this year. It is proven that meditating is an excellent addition to an overall workout plan – and takes just 5 minutes (if you don't fall asleep)!
  3. Pushing up your routine by 10% will give you noticeable results but not cramp your fabulous lifestyle. Think 10 in 2010!

Ditch the gym

OK, don't cancel your membership just yet, but do get creative with your definition of "working out" so you have a better chance of keeping your resolutions. Garner recommends that you work physical activity into your daily routine. "Go for a walk to the park with your family, play a pick-up game of soccer with your dog, or spend 10 minutes dancing to Motown music with your kids -- 20 if you can last that long. And think of activity in terms of functionality. Instead of driving to the post office, try biking or walking."

Partner up

Choosing an accountability partner is the most important tip to sticking to yoru workout plans and achieving your fitness goals for the New Year, according to Garner. "An accountability partner is someone you will voice your intentions to. This person promises to help you stay on track when you lose sight of your goals. So choose someone you can depend on. Find someone who's made a similar resolution to get in shape.

Focus on gaining

"Typical resolutions are losing weight, getting rid of bad foods or cutting out certain bad habits that a person loves," Garner says. "But that really puts the emphasis on the negative. Instead, look at what you have to gain -- like adding a new healthful food to your diet, spending more time with the family instead of watching TV, having more money in your wallet from not eating fast food or cutting out smoking."


"Meditation's benefits are long-supported by research to decrease stress and risk of depression. It also improves mood and overall health. Even if you start with only five minutes a day lying down, it's a start," says Garner. Find a quiet spot, sit comfortably and focus on your deep breathing — in and out through the nose. If your mind begins to wander, just re-focus in on your breathing.

Lucky #10

"Increase your activity by no more than 10 percent per week," advises Garner. "This is the golden rule for designing a fitness program. If you are a walker or a runner, increase your mileage by no more than 10 percent every seven days. If you lift weights, increase your repetitions or weight by no more than 10 percent weekly. Take baby steps toward fitness rather than having a 'weekend warrior' attitude."