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Keeping resolutions: How to exercise more and eat healthier

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With all the holiday brunches, lunches and dinners, the new year has come just in time to make yet another resolution to lose those extra holiday pounds.   

But keeping that resolution after a few months may be difficult.

That's why Ryan Gilkerson, membership director, and Regina Thomas, aquatics health and fitness director, both with the YMCA of Southern West Virginia, said membership drops off after a few months into the New Year.

It doesn't have to be that way. Gilkerson and Thomas offered these five tips to turn a resolution into a way of life.

1. You don't have to spend hours in the gym. In fact, Thomas said all you really need is 30-45 minutes or enough to get your heart pumping. "You can break it up in 10-minute increments. Break it up and do it like that if you can't spend that much time in the gym." 

2. Plan fun activities at home. "There's so many easy ways," Gilkerson said. "You can vacuum the floor, take the dogs out for a walk. … There's so many things you can do outside. The easiest thing is walking and running. … Let your chores be fun and active."

3. Try something fun. Many people may dread the treadmill and desire to get off the beaten path.  Gilkerson encourages people to try something different. "Take a yoga class. Take something that keeps you interested," he said. "If you come to the gym and run on the treadmill for an hour, that sucks, and it's boring after a while." Plus, he said "shocking" the muscles by doing something new will yield better results. "Your muscles get used to doing the same thing over and over again. Keep it interesting and it will pay off in the end." 

4. Switch up cardio and strength training. Thomas said it is important to stick to cardio every other day. But strength training doesn't just mean getting on the machines. It could be as simple as doing a few push-ups.

5. Designate a day of rest but don't lose your motivation. Gilkerson said it's important to rest at least one day a week, and he encourages people not to go full-force by not resting. Otherwise, people may lose steam. "Don't give up on yourself. It takes time and it's a lifelong commitment," he said.

And if you fall off the wagon, Thomas says it's easy to climb back up. "Eat healthier the next day and pick up your exercise. Set realistic goals because it's not going to happen overnight."