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New Year's resolutions a month later

For many, diet and fitness goals don't last even till February

For many, diet and fitness goals don't last even till February

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(CNN) -- Lose weight. Exercise every day. Eat fruits and vegetables. If you're like many Americans, health goals topped your New Year's resolutions. But a month into 2004, how many are sticking to their resolutions?

According to one survey of 12,000 people, about 30 percent of those making resolutions say they don't even keep them into February. And only about 1 in 5 actually stay on track for six months or more, reports eDiets.com, a consumer diet and fitness Web site.

But don't let those odds make you reach for the nearest bag of potato chips. Experts say you can keep those resolutions long term, even if you're struggling now.

"The motivation comes from within, and so when you find that you're lapsing in your healthy eating program, then just ask yourself, 'Is this going to get me the results that I want?' " says Leslie Stewart, a registered dietitian and licensed nutritionist.

"And if you're doing something every day to eat healthy, then that's going to pay off in the long run."

Stewart advises to use what she calls the 90-10 eating rule.

"At this time [in] a new year program, you're waxing and waning on healthy eating," Stewart says. "But if you're eating healthy 90 percent of the time, then 10 percent of the time, you can cut yourself some slack and eat pleasurably."

She says she believes that "healthy eating is evolution instead of resolution."

The same principle can be applied to a lagging exercise resolution, too.

Staying motivated is key to long-term success, and reviewing original goals can help jump-start a languishing workout program.

"Tap into what motivated you originally. What was it that made you want to change? What made you go to the gym?" says Steve Uria, a personal trainer.

"Find those feelings and re-boost them. What you look like in six months is up to what you do today. And unfortunately there's no one but you who can motivate yourself."

Uria says time, or the lack of it, is the biggest excuse among those slacking off. But he says people mistakenly think they need to sweat for hours for any health benefit.

"People waste a lot of time exercising -- all you need is 30 minutes in your day, and that's 30 minutes more than you would have done," he says. "It's not difficult to do something. ... You don't have to spend hours in a gym to do cardio; 20 minutes is sufficient."

Adding variety to a fitness regime also can prevent you from hanging up those exercise shoes. After a few weeks of well-intentioned workouts, boredom may be creeping into your routine.

But mixing up the method of workout (an aerobic dance class instead of walking, for example) or taking the action to the great outdoors can help alleviate some of the tedium, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Setting goals too high is another common mistake. If you're not running a marathon at the end of the month, don't worry, say Mayo Clinic experts. A too intense workout -- and the resulting pain and stiffness -- is discouraging and may force most to abandon a program. Starting slowly is key.

But if your goals already have fallen by the wayside, Uria says to start up again immediately.

"A little setback is OK; get back on the horse and ride ... drive toward that goal," he says.


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