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Make a realistic fitness plan, then implement it

Editor's note: This column is one in a series as three RiverTown Multimedia reporters take part in the Slim Down with RiverTown weightloss challenge.

I've been struggling to consistently workout since Slim Down started.

Last month, I wrote about dedicating myself to cooking more and attempting to eat out less. It's healthier for me and my wallet, and that's been going well. Almost every week I cook five or more times and it's almost always something healthy.

David ClareyThat was one of my goals, but another was working out more consistently as well. In the weeks leading up to Slim Down I had started working out semi-regularly at home through bodyweight workouts. It was things you would think of like pushups or sit-ups and more unorthodox things like using a towel wedged between a door and the wall to do rows.

It seemed ridiculous, but it was also rewarding for me to know I was putting a decent effort to working out at home.

READ MORE: Slim Down With RiverTown

But I haven't been doing it lately, and even when I was it was lacking in consistency. I knew it wasn't the workouts themselves that was stopping me (I always enjoyed them for the most part), but rather in an inability to prioritize it in a way that was sustainable for me.

I need to make working out not just a goal, but a habit.

Habit-building though is tough for me, so I reached out to childhood friend Lucas Hattervig, who recently wrapped up his doctorate in physical therapy and now works in a hospital system as a physical therapist, for some tips on building habits.

The first thing I'll mention from him was a general three-step guideline — first, educate yourself on how to achieve your goals; second, make a plan; third, put it into action.

Beyond that though, he had a couple other ideas for me and anyone else wanting to build better habits (or habits at all.)

One of them was to ensure your habit goals are attainable.

"I would tell people to start small with attainable goals, based on where they are right now," he told me over text message.

He used the example of losing 20 pounds before a fall wedding that's 20 weeks away.

"Well that's a pound per week, which isn't so scary to think about," he said.

That helped me realize that my abstract goal of "working out more" was just that, too abstract. I need to find a way to turn working out into an attainable goal — for instance, I'm going to try and workout from home or a gym four times a week from now on for at least 30 minutes.

Hattervig also mentioned a few other tips though — the same way he recommended making those goals attainable, make sure the way you go about those goals attainable as well.

"If you go all out, working out six to seven times a week and completely changing your nutritional lifestyle in the first two weeks, the chances are that you'll burn yourself out and quit," he wrote.

Tip of the week from Vibrant Health

Mindfulness and Self-care

By Keri Lijewski, MD 

Take a deep breath and allow yourself to slow down.

Positive self-talk, taking time for mindfulness, gratitude journaling are all part of health we call self-care, etc. Meditation and mindfulness exercises can help keep you calm and relaxed and become more in tune with your body and reduce some stress.

Visit each Monday to see a weekly video.