Happy 2015! We at Austin Air would like to extend our best wishes to you and yours for a happy and healthy year ahead!

Now that the holidays have come and gone, New Year’s resolutions are here. Any time is a great time to make changes for the better but there is something about the beginning of the year that has a way of making many of us feel inspired (or perhaps guilty). Between the colder weather and early sunsets that come along with it making many of us feel lazy, plus the mass quantities of holiday treats that many of us have consumed between Halloween’s candy, Thanksgiving’s stuffing and gravy, and Christmas’ chocolate binges, weight-loss initiatives seem to be one of the most popular resolution – usually in the form of regular exercise. They also have a tendency to be one of the most difficult resolutions to keep. Maybe you make the same resolution to get fit every year but haven’t been able to stick to it? If this sounds like you, it may be time to reevaluate how you approach exercise.

Before you begin, make sure you have been cleared for exercise by your doctor. For those of us with health problems, the strain may do more harm than good.

After your doctor has given you the green light, it might help if you focus on the best reasons to get in shape. It’s hard for some people to think about the end goals for exercise beyond appearance. While it can be rewarding to lose a few inches around the waistline or fit into a great pair of jeans, there are also lots of benefits to exercise which can’t be seen and it may help you to remember them when you feel like quitting. The production of endorphins – brain chemicals which create feelings of happiness – gets a boost from exercise. It’s also a productive way to distract yourself from other causes of worry in your life. It could be the stress relief, the activity itself, or any number of other factors but exercise has been proven to be an effective way to increase sleep quality, even in insomniacs. It is also a healthy habit which can prevent disease including cancer.

Resolutions for weight loss inevitably bring out a mentality of “I’m going to spend all of my time at the gym.” While this is an admirable goal – it may not be realistic if one hasn’t spent any time in a gym since the New Year’s resolution of last year fizzled out in February. In fact, this could have contributed to a lack of stamina in the past. It’s one thing if you’re a gym regular accelerating the loss of a few pounds by temporarily stepping up a regular routine but for newbies may be setting themselves up to fail if they expect to add long periods of regular exercise to an already busy schedule. So before you even begin, remember that we learn to crawl before we can walk and you might need some time before you’ll be ready to run. Start by setting up realistic targets for time spent exercising.

The American Cancer Society recommends a minimum 150 minutes doing activities of moderate intensity each week. This includes walking, biking leisurely, and basic housework. Meanwhile, that recommendation is cut in half to 75 minutes of more vigorous intensity activity such as jogging and playing sports like soccer or tennis. If you spread this out throughout the week, which they recommended, that works out to be only 30 minutes of light activity five times a week or 25 minutes of intense exercise three days a week. This is a great benchmark for people who have had trouble sticking with a workout routine in the past. Any combination of the two will suffice so consider going for a simple walk on the day you don’t feel up for something more challenging.

Now that you’re armed with more motivation and realistic goals for time, it’s time to figure out where to go and what to do. A comfortable, sustainable program is what you need to ensure you’re not back in the same place in January of next year. While the regular gym rats might not need the help, those of us looking to make a change in the start of the New Year might need help finding the right exercise routine, an essential step for being able to keep with whatever program you choose long-term. If you try forcing yourself to keep up with an exercise routine that is too difficult, or not fun enough for your style, you may lose your will to practice these newfound healthy habits.

Don’t be nervous! The people who are intimidating you at the gym had to start somewhere. You may want to consider alternatives to the gym if it doesn’t fit your style. Or maybe this is your first time trying a gym? While developing a fitness routine, it is a good idea to experiment with a variety of different workouts to see which is right for you. Take advantage of classes which you can take at the gym or in your community. Talk to friends about what works for them and see if you can tag along. Being open minded and exposing yourself to variety of different methods for getting physically fit will also help prevent boredom.

While it’s important to give everything a fair shot, don’t be shy about walking away from an activity that may be all the rage. Give new activities a couple of weeks before ruling them out but if you still feel completely ridiculous in that dance-yoga-boxing class even though you’re on a first name basis with the instructor, it may not be for you. Don’t lose hope if this happens.

Have you thought about getting assistance from a professional? It’s only fitting that we ask this question today, as we post this article on Personal Trainer Awareness Day which occurs annually on January 2nd.

Figuring out whether or not you are in need of a personal trainer can be a difficult decision, and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly, as personal training can cost a lot of money. The people who benefit most from a personal trainer are those who are not very motivated to workout on their own without some form of accountability, and you also lack the ability to create a workout plan for yourself.

If you do decide that you want to go with a personal trainer, you’ll want to review their bio to ensure they have a proper certification and experience for what they’re about to help you with. You wouldn’t go to a physical therapist or chiropractor without knowing they had the proper education and training, right? So ensure this person is going to have the skills necessary to help you. You’ll also want to make sure you can keep a positive working relationship with this person, and that they don’t have a reputation of being too informal with their clients. If you’re serious about this, you’ll want to ensure you get the most out of your trainer. And, as always, ensure you are comfortable telling your personal trainer your limits, so you don’t get yourself into a position you’d rather not be in.

If you’d like to succeed at meeting your New Year’s resolutions, or meeting any goal at all, (and of course you do!), the key is to be realistic and to think positively. Scientific research into the matter has shown that humans have natural tendencies which may prevent us from achieving our aims. It turns out that if we fool ourselves into perceiving that a goal is easy, we have a propensity to slack in our readiness to pursue those goals. Research has shown that we need to combine a positive-thinking approach to our goals with a taste of realism. Instead of merely imagining yourself where you want to be, you must also practice what psychologists describe as “mental contrasting”, which means not only imagining yourself in some future ideal state, but also imagining the obstacles in the way, in order to realistically set us up for following through. The American Psychological Association has a few more tips on how to make your New Year’s resolutions stick.

We hope we’ve given you enough information and motivation to succeed with your physical fitness resolutions in 2015. The types of workouts you should be doing will depend on the specific goals you have for yourself, so make sure to give some thought to what you really hope to achieve through your workouts. It’s important to remember that while certain activities aren’t for you, activity is for everyone. Get moving and keep moving. One Austin Air staffer likes to remind herself, “A bad day at the gym is better than no day at the gym.” Keep that in mind the next time you hit a wall or are tempted to skip out – you might surprise yourself and get in a great workout when you least expected it. And don’t forget to remember the concept of “mental contrasting”, so you can realistically set yourself up for the obstacles that have a tendency to get in our way. Happy sweating!