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The Reluctant Columnist Here's To Our Health
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Fitness seems to a reoccurring theme in my life lately. Our group of newspapers, Oakdale, Riverbank and Escalon, has decided to introduce a monthly health and fitness section, which means I will be writing health and fitness stories at least once a month. Our office is also participating in a 100 miles in 100 days challenge, so I have been trying to walk or bike at least a mile a day. Add in all of the New Year's resolution talk, and I've had just about all the fitness I can stand.

Have you ever noticed that fitness seems to be a huge priority for a lot of people at the beginning of the year? January brings the biggest fitness boom of the year, mostly because of all of the people who make it their New Year's Resolution to lose weight, get fit, or get healthy. We are suddenly inundated by offers from gyms, fitness commercials, and store displays of weight-loss products. Have you been to a big box store lately? It's no coincidence that the yoga mats, Special K, and fitness DVDs are suddenly prominently displayed on end-caps and highly visible areas. This sudden fitness frenzy is a gold mine for the weight-loss industry.

But how many of us actually stick with our resolutions to get fit? I can honestly say that I usually give up on my fitness resolutions by February. I put away my running shoes, drop my weights, and give up on that restrictive diet that wasn't very reasonable to begin with. The American public seems to forget their resolutions almost as quickly as I do. By Valentine's Day those fitness products that were so prominently displayed just a month earlier will be adorning the clearance racks. We forget about losing weight and getting fit and settle back into our daily routines. That is, until bikini seasons rolls around.

My fitness goals seem to re-emerge as soon as the pool opens. Every year I am met with that sudden and shocking realization that I haven't met the fitness goals that I swore to complete six months before. Neither, apparently, did anyone else. Women's magazines are suddenly full of "bikini ready" workout guides, healthy summer menus, and editorials about how it's never too late to get in shape. My fitness frenzy begins again in earnest, but deep down I know that I will just crash again, as quickly as I started.

Maybe that is the reason why so many people, myself included, have such a hard time getting in shape. We consider fitness to be a goal, rather than a lifestyle change. We see it as a quick fix, all-or-nothing program that we can complete now and never have to worry about again. That quick burst of enthusiasm we have right after setting a New Year's Resolution to get into better shape is just not sustainable.

This year I think my approach to fitness will be to take it one day at a time. If I eat half a pizza and skip the gym tonight then I will just have to try harder tomorrow. Smaller, achievable goals seem like the way to go. If I don't walk my mile today then I can make it up on Saturday on my bike. Or I can go ice skating, walk a friend's dog, or do any activity I can think of. I'll let you know how it's going once summer rolls around.

Andrea Goodwin is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.