Tips on how to stick to your good resolutions

Here are some suggestions to help keep you on track this year:

No more excuses. We often justify our behavior with what we like to think are reasonable excuses. The most commonly heard of these is lack of time or money.

Getting into shape doesn't require a health club membership, expensive equipment or putting aside hours of your time each day. It can be achieved by making a few simple changes that will get you up and moving.

At work use your breaks to take a walk and stretch out. If your building has stairs, use them. Create a small fitness group with co-workers. Being around others with similar goals is supportive and encouraging, and provides the accountability necessary to succeed.

Every additional step you take during the day burns that many more calories and moves you closer to your goal.

Suggestions to improve your diet and reduce your calorie intake include leaving a few bites on your plate at each meal, switching to water in place of high calorie drinks and asking for the lunch portion in a restaurant or boxing half of the meal for the next day. Go for fat-free dressings and ask for your dressing on the side so you can control how much you use.

Though these examples might seem as if they would have little impact on weight loss, the truth is, it was the little things that added up to extra pounds and inches in the first place.

No time for a work-out? Many simple strengthening exercises can be easily performed at home in just minutes a day, with no equipment or expence. Examples are squats, lunges, crunches and push-ups, which use your own body weight for resistance and burn up calories and strengthen major muscle groups.

A morning work-out consisting of two sets of each exercise will take you 15 minutes or less. Other exercises can be included for additional strengthening using inexpensive resistance bands or dumbbells. These can be performed on alternate days or in the morning and evening.

Stay positive, stay motivated. It's one thing to have a fitness plan, but seeing it through requires motivation and a positive outlook. For instance, you know that it is important to be active most days of the week, but without understanding just how many benefits can be gained, there is no real motivation driving you forward.

Experiencing the payoff from an active lifestyle provides continual motivation and is the difference between those who look forward to their work-outs and those who don't.

Unfortunately, many look at exercise as a chore or punishment for having gained weight. They try to do too much too soon in an effort to lose weight quickly, only to find themselves tired, sore and burned out. Instead of focusing on weight, try thinking of your exercise sessions in terms of a payoff. Few people complain that they feel worse after a good work-out or are sorry they did it.

Exercise brings about many changes in the body, releasing bio-chemicals responsible for creating a positive mood. This feeling is extremely motivating and makes you look forward to the next work-out.

The bottom line is that exercise and healthy diet are gifts that you give yourself and with consistency, weight loss happens anyway without it being your main focus. - Cox News Service