Walking
ROBIN TRIMARCHI

Maybe lately you have been thinking back over 2015 and trying to figure out where it went. I’m not sure I can answer that, but I know it is almost gone, and now we have to look forward and try to do our very best to get healthy and make health and wellness a priority in 2016.

It can be so much more difficult when we are over 50. We become more set in our ways, and our habits, especially the bad ones, become harder to break.

Frank Tyger said, "In every triumph there is a lot of try." We live in a world where people want instant triumph. But that is not how it usually happens. Small triumphs can be just as rewarding.

Nobody walks in your shoes but YOU. No one can measure how great your triumphs really are. Just you. So quit beating yourself up if you have failed.

Maybe it’s been 15 years since you did any type of exercise. OK, so then you need to set goals that are not too unreachable. If you really want to change, you can do it in your own way.

1. First, you need to GET REAL.

Examine your life, your diet, your exercise habits and all the rest. Take a good hard look at your physical body. What do you want to improve on? Maybe there are several things you want to improve on.

Set some realistic goals, such as walking two miles three times a week, or weight training three times a week. Something you feel you can attain.

Write down your goals in a notebook or on a PostIt note where you can see them. Tell people who care about you what your goals are. Now you have written it down so you have to see it daily, and you have told friends so they will be asking about your journey. (Maybe you will inspire them! You never know.) Then notice the small milestones and give yourself the credit you deserve. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

2. Second, take your goals and spread them out over the new year.

For instance, take January through April to work on your cardio health. Get your heart rate up into the appropriate zone for your age at least three times a week. Get moving, people! Americans sit way too much. Get a Fitbit or any step tracker to keep you accountable and get going!

Once you see that you have that under control, then spend May through August working on getting stronger, while still amping up your cardio level. Don’t be afraid to lift weights, do pushups or even squats and lunges.

Then, spend September through December working on core strength or flexibility and balance.

You can plug in different health and fitness goals for the four-month increments, but you see it is easier not to tackle it all at once.

So now I hear you saying, "I have bad knees" or "I have a bad back." If you do cardio and strength movements with proper form, you will be surprised at what you are able to do.

I have had two ACL tears plus MCL and the works on both knees. I understand. I refuse to let that stop me. Does it slow me down? Absolutely, it does. But it will never stop me.

3. Lastly, try to focus on what exactly is your motivation for getting fit and eating right?

Is it your kids? Maybe diabetes or heart disease runs in your family and you are determined not to go down that road.

Maybe it’s a more shallow reason; you just want to look good in your clothes. That’s legit. But deep down we are all aging, and being healthy is more important to our friends and families than how we look.

Being in shape makes our lives way easier, but having a reason — a real reason, something that is important to you — will keep you motivated longer than you think.

My reason? Both of my parents died at around 55 years of age. I cannot help genetics, but I can do everything in my power to keep my three kids from going through that.

They are my reason, and I never forget that. No matter how warm my bed is in the mornings, or how much my knees hurt, or how little I slept the night before.

Ann Angell is a certified instructor and personal trainer and manager of the Oxford YMCA. And she’s over 50. "Fitness Over 50" is published the third Sunday of each month.