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CindySays: Focused plan helps avoid detours

By Cindy Boggs

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Are you going to reach your destination?

I think we could agree that knowing how to get where you want to go makes the journey easier and faster. The same principle applies to fitness. Once you establish a goal, you have in essence pinpointed your destination. The next step, of course, is to clearly define the direction you plan to take to get there. Mapping this out and following it will help you avoid unnecessary detours, traffic jams or the dreaded U-turn.

How long will it take?

When we begin a trip, we definitely factor in the time it takes to get there. We don't look at a drive to the beach that normally takes eight hours and try to make it in four just because we are eager to sink our toes in the sand. This type of expectation is unrealistic at best and unsafe at worst. It is in our best interest, though, to gather information so we can choose the most efficient route.

Shall I take the expressway?

We all want a lean and fit body in the shortest amount of time. But like the trip to the beach, it would be unreasonable justify shortcuts toward better health or a higher fitness level. Fad or starvation diets, weight-loss supplements, diuretics and other unhealthy strategies would be like keeping the gas pedal smashed to the floor in hopes of arriving early. This type of reckless and irresponsible decision making will likely lead to undesirable consequences such as injury, leaving you stranded or ending the trip altogether.

Is that SMART?

If you want to reach your fitness destination looking good and feeling good, you must formulate a "SMART" plan, which should be based on facts that are: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. For example, expectations to lose 40 pounds in 60 days are unrealistic; a goal to look 25 when you're 60 is unattainable; and if you plan to achieve your goal but are unwilling to invest the energy into how to do it, you really have no plan at all because it's not specific and certainly not measurable.

Are we there yet?

If this kind of information leaves you feeling a little confused, consider acquiring a roadmap of sorts from a reliable source. Dietary plans and sound fitness advice will expedite the trip by rerouting you onto the expressway. There you'll experience the most efficient path and a more enjoyable ride.

Stuck at the side of the road?

Some may be facing even greater challenges for a variety of reasons. For instance, you may be discouraged because your fitness goals are too far away or you don't have the time, knowledge or energy to create the roadmap. If this describes you, consider hiring a certified personal trainer who has the ability and expertise to put you on a direct path to fitness.

Choose well

Finally, remember that staying fit requires an ongoing commitment -- a lifestyle change. Everything worth having, whether it is a relaxing vacation or simply a long, healthy life, is always attached to a certain amount of responsibility. It's yours and yours alone and the choices you make can either transport you to a holiday of your dreams or leave you stranded along the side of the road.

Cindy Boggs, fitness presenter, author and Activate America director, has been an ACE-certified instructor/trainer since 1989. Send your questions about fitness, training or health to her at YMCA of Kanawha Valley, 100 YMCA Drive, Charleston, WV 25311, or e-mail cindysays@aol.com. Look for Cindy's award-winning fitness advice book, "CindySays ... You Can Find Health in Your Hectic World," at www.cindysays.com, or contact the YMCA at 304-340-3527.


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