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Begin your fitness journey with one small step

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Here we go again. 2019 has already arrived. Are you finding yourself with a little extra fluff around the waistline? Are you also finding yourself without the motivation to do anything about it?

In my opinion, January is a very hard month to get moving. After all, 2019 came during the middle of the week, so no one wanted to start because of that.

And then it has been cold and rainy. So that’s not a good time to start. For most people, the cold weather quashes their ambitions to get out and get active — or even go to the gym, because they must go outside just to get there.

For sure, we are way more active in the warmer months. But January really is a perfect time to start building the foundation for the healthy body and lifestyle you want for 2019.

Let January be your small step month, a month to get into a regular routine with realistic goals so you will have a better chance of sticking to it.

Every small step you make to keep moving is going to help you reach your goal. Small steps add up to big results if you just give them enough time and you don’t give up.

It’s not all or nothing. It’s more like every little bit counts.

A good reason to do so in January is that exercise can boost your immune system. With all the flu and colds going around, we certainly need that added benefit this time of year.

So, what will it take for you to get moving this January?

Don’t be afraid to exercise outside, even though you may really want to just sit by the fire. I really despise cold weather, but have learned that cold is only miserable if you are not properly dressed.

The bonus is that walking, hiking or running outside in this weather can be very invigorating — and it will boost your mood, which is important in the sometimes-gloomy wintertime.

Staying warm while exercising can require a lot more energy in the colder months, therefore leading to more calories burned.

Invest in the correct cold-weather workout gear, including lightweight gloves and something to cover your ears. Dress in layers and be smart about it. Make sure your head, mouth, hands and feet are properly covered. Use your common sense about how cold is too cold. In our part of the woods, we generally do not get unsafe cold weather, but it can happen.

When I lose my motivation because of the cold weather, I always remember the feeling I get when I accomplish a goal. That feeling drives me to get outside and go. It’s what will keep you motivated no matter what time of year it is.

Making yourself move when you feel like sitting is like putting money in your health bank. By spring, that deposit in your health bank will be paying off in dividends of pounds off, more energy, better frame of mind and a stronger you.

The routine of it all is extremely important as well. When we get out of our routines — like we often do over the holiday season — it can play with our psyche. The sooner we get back to a regular exercise program the better.

Make a January goal. Nothing too outrageous. Then amp up that goal for February.

You may want to try to walk 10,000 steps a day for January. Once you breeze past that goal, make it 12,000 steps plus attending four yoga classes for February, or something like that.

Bite off small pieces, and make sure your goals are always evolving so your body gets the max benefit.

We should aim for 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week. Since there are 168 hours in one week, that means we have 10,800 minutes in one week. When you look at it that way, it seems reasonable. We can squeeze in 150 minutes out of 10,800 minutes.

The foundation you build in January will be the entire key to your whole year as you progress and pay into your health bank. Keep building until you are solid and discipline comes naturally to you. That is when it becomes a habit that you cannot live without.

Ann Angell is a certified instructor and personal trainer and  manager of the Oxford YMCA. Her fitness column appears the third Sunday of each month.