Seven Secrets to Successful Workouts

I can totally rock this swimsuit, you think while modeling the garment in front of the dressing room mirror.

Then you turn slightly, and suddenly all those high school insecurities return. Are my thighs that big? When did my arms become so soft? (GASP!) Is that a front butt?

Many women aspire to have the body of a Hollywood star, but they’re also self aware enough to realize that being healthy is the real goal. Sure, it keeps you looking trim and youthful, but it also allows you to feel good and live more active, enjoyable lives.

But getting in shape is hard work. If you aren’t enjoying it, getting the endorphin rush, or finding validation for your work, then it’s easy to fail. This is true for both blushing beginners and experienced fitness freaks looking to improve their workout. And while we often associate new fitness programs with the new year, there is no better time to start changing things up than NOW!

So here are some smart tips to help you make concrete, positive changes in your fitness life.

1. Find the right space. Every city offers a variety of gyms so look for ones that fit your life (distance, price range, etc.) and try them out. Don’t just settle on one because you may never know what great things are happening at different facilities. Even experienced gym bunnies can benefit from a change venues.

2. Find new interests. Go to classes or join groups that do physical activities outdoors: Group bicycling, yoga, barre method, beach volleyball and other fun activities happen in every city, and they often cost less than a gym membership.

3. Find attainable goals. Pick something reasonable, like working out 3 days a week, losing weight, or building muscle mass. Don’t get your sights too big at first. You want to be able to attain your goals, see your successes, and feel motivated to set the bar a little higher each time.

4. Find a motivator. Hire a personal trainer to help you achieve goals. He or she will also charge you for a session if you flake, and that helps because money is a powerful motivator. Many gyms give you a couple free training sessions when you join, helping get you on a path to success.

Don’t like the trainer? Pick a new one! This isn’t a marriage commitment and it’s your money. You should have a trainer who motivates, inspires, and helps you reach your goals.

5. Find variety. Studies of post-pregnancy women have shown that they can quickly return to their healthy body weight if they vary up their workouts. The same concept applies to anyone. If you want to tone up or lean out introduce variety into your fitness life.

6. Find the time. Too tired to hit the gym at night? Work out in the mornings. Too much to do then? Hit it at lunch. Even a half-hour of working out will improve your health and help clear your head during a work day.

7. Find the right diet. Some fitness experts say that the right diet can be 80% of your success. But if a diet makes you miserable, you’ll quit. If it’s ineffective, you won’t see the gains you’re striving for. Finding the right balance can be pure magic, so try a few diets until you discover one that works and gives you a lifestyle you want to live.

But what if I fail?
You may. And it’s not the end of the world. Like with diets, there is no “right” fitness resolution, so try multiple gyms, trainers, and classes until you create a plan that works for you.

The bottom line is to keep trying, stay positive, and work toward creating the healthy life you want.