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$300 loan.

After resolving to get back to the gym, I squeezed in a nice workout this afternoon.

So, it’s not even New Year’s Day yet and I’ve already met my goal for 2011! Actually, I’m not big on the whole New Year’s resolutions thing. I’m a Minnesotan, after all, and we like to think that if you do the best you can, you’re doing OK. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have some goals in life, it just means you shouldn’t obsess about them. Just plug away; that’s how we roll.

Plenty of experts, in fact, will tell you that the best way to sustain a fitness regimen is to incorporate it into your everyday life: take the bus instead of driving, walk the dog every morning, schedule your workouts just as you would any business meeting or social obligation, pack a healthy lunch for work, yadda, yadda. Just plug away. Don’t make a big deal out of it.

Last January, I ran into an old friend of mine and her partner down at the gym. They were huffing and puffing on the treadmill and proudly announced to me that they were determined this year to get into shape at all costs. I wished them well, and cautioned them about doing too much too soon. A couple days later I ran into them again.

They were working out every day, my friend told me — cardio, strength training, stretching, the whole nine yards. That was great, I replied. But you might want to take a day off from time to time, I suggested. Recovery time is important, too.

A few weeks later, they were still at it. Grinding it out each day like a couple of boot campers.

But their resolve was weakening. The weight wasn’t melting off the way they had imagined it would. And the treadmill was getting pretty tedious, she confessed. Might be time to take a few days off, I said. But the idea didn’t seem to register.

I haven’t seen them at the gym at all for several months now, which doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve thrown in the towel. (They could say they haven’t seen me at the gym much lately, either.) But, I suspect they took my advice and took a few days off — days that stretched into months. It’s easy to do, believe me.

That’s why we have a new year every 12 months: so folks can resolve to get back into shape, to eat better, to be nicer to their friends, to finish reading that sprawling novel by the young Czech writer whose name you can’t pronounce but whose prose was so riveting when you cracked the book open at the cabin last summer but whose magnum opus has now been sitting on the coffee table beneath a stack of yellowing National Geographics since August.

We live for these challenges, right?

And if a New Year’s resolution helps motivate you to achieve these kinds of goals, then I say go for it. Whatever works is my motto. And, for me, that means continuing to plug away. It felt good to get to the gym today. I might even go again tomorrow.

Thoughts to share?

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