1. Set a fitness goal. And give yourself enough time to reach it. Your mission is the motivation that will keep you going on days when you feel like giving up. Be sure to create smaller goals too (such as doing 15 sit-ups), and reward yourself when you reach them, to help propel you toward your big one!
2. Formulate a workout plan. Aim for three 40-minute workouts each week, at specific times. Your exercise schedule needs to be as important as any other appointment you have. Vary your routine — maybe it's tennis one day and a dance class on another — to challenge yourself and ward off workout boredom.
3. Do a reality check. Be completely honest with yourself about how fit you are. Getting in shape is a personal journey that requires a realistic self-perspective; some novice exercisers are overly ambitious and begin a workout plan or set goals that are too hard on their bodies. So take it slow. Keep your focus on where you are and the progress you've made.
4. Seek support. You're less likely to bail on a workout if you know a friend is waiting for you, and having a partner is good for emotional support too. Seek out people who have a contagious "You can do it!" attitude and who embody the fitness lifestyle you want. Don't compare yourself to über- fit types — trying to match their high standards may just make you want to quit.
5. Eat right. Make sure you're eating the best foods to fuel your body — including lots of fresh fruits and veggies, lean proteins, and healthy fats. And drink at least six cups of water a day — or more on the days you work out — to keep your hardworking body hydrated and energized.