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It won't be easy, but it will be worth it

mumbai Updated: Aug 26, 2011 00:50 IST

You can start to exercise at absolutely any age. Don't wait till you feel breathless while climbing stairs, or till your clothes get too tight. And if you do get breathless and your clothes are too tight, don't fret.

It's never ever too late to start.

It is vital that you go about it the right way. Get yourself a medical check and a fitness assessment before you start your workout. Make sure all your parameters are stable, and if they are not, take that into consideration and inform your trainer or gym and can plan your exercise schedules accordingly.

Try not to get into the fitness mode for the wrong reasons. Exercise is a preventive mechanism, not a prescription for weight loss. It is a lifestyle change. If it is to work, you need to be thinking not of a pair of pants or a dress you hope to get into but of a way of life you wish to follow.

It will not always be easy. There will be times when you feel discouraged, or when there seems to be too much else to take care of.

That's when the excuses will begin - or begin again, the same round of excuses you used before you began working out in the first place.

Usually, you start with, "I'm too busy / too depressed / too tired". Next, you'll start postponing your workouts, thinking: "I'll restart next Monday / after Diwali / once work gets less hectic".

At this point, you need to take a long, hard look at yourself and make those painful admissions once again - you're not getting younger, and you owe it to yourself and to those who love you to keep yourself healthy.

Exercise introduces discipline in your life. It's like brushing your teeth. If you don't brush your teeth, they will decay. If you don't exercise, your body will rust, you will begin to have joint pains, lower-back pains, knee pains. Combine the lack of exercise with a sedentary lifestyle and you will have an unfit body and mind.

Keep at your exercise routine through the first couple of troughs and it will become a habit, like brushing your teeth. Then, go a single day without exercising and you will miss it.

For those starting or going through a rough patch, here are some ways to stay motivated.

For starters, select a workout that you like and can enjoy.

Set a short-term and a long-term goal. The first will quickly give you a sense of achievement; the latter will keep you motivated.

Buy a dress one size small, and work towards fitting into it.

If you're a social person, include a group exercise activity in your routine, such as kick-boxing, spinning or power yoga. You'll make some like-minded friends with whom you can share tips and milestones.

Find a workout partner. This will help you stay motivated, and give you the self-sustaining thrill of motivating someone else to work out.

Do weight-training thrice a week. This will form the base of your workout. Build lean muscle tissue; a toned body is a sexy body.

Keep a logbook and record your milestones, good days and bad.

Buy and use good workout gear.

Occasionally, give yourself a break. If you don't feel like going to the gym, take the dog out for a walk instead.

Most of all, have fun. Your workout isn't - and should not be - a chore. Don't treat it like one.

(The author is a fitness expert and director of Leena Mogre Fitness)