When your willpower wanes, take a few tips from Lisa Rebucci, of our Healthy Family 2011, and her trainer, Robert Reames.

By Christine Mattheis

Lisa Rebucci and her family have been getting healthier since January with Family Circle's help (visit familycircle.com/healthyfamily2011 to learn more). Thanks to a regular workout regimen—three weekly trips to the gym and a daily walk—this 47-year-old's energy levels shot up as inches fell off her waist and thighs. Recently, though, Lisa's willpower has waned. "My trainer says I'm gaining muscle and getting stronger, but my scale hasn't budged in a few weeks," she says. "Now that I've stopped seeing big results, I'm not as excited to hit the gym." On top of that, her two boys (ages 13 and 11) are off from school for the summer and demanding more of her time, as she's trying to keep up with an upswing in her home pet-sitting business. Not to mention that she's finding it hard to resist her favorite summertime foods (especially corn on the cob with butter and salt).

Lisa's lapse in enthusiasm mirrors what many women encounter after several months of dieting and exercising, says Robert Reames, the official trainer of The Dr. Phil Show. The majority of people quit their training program within a year. Stress, boredom and a lack of progress are among the top reasons cited, says Reames.

The key to reenergizing a fitness plan boils down to one tenet: It should be fun. "Exercise should relieve anxiety, not worsen it," Reames says. Even before committing to a year of healthier living, Lisa enjoyed walking near her home in Chester, New Jersey. "If Lisa goes back to focusing solely on walking for even just a couple weeks, she'll remember how good it feels," Reames says. "It will help motivate her to get back on track and return to the gym too." During this 40-minute routine, created by Reames, Lisa will alter her pace or walking style every five minutes. The frequent changes will liven things up, and the variation will ensure she's getting a total-body workout.

When the Going Gets Tough: Reames offers three tips for sticking to exercise.

1. Rest up. Countless studies show that people who sleep less are more likely to struggle with their weight. They may lack the energy to exercise. Aim for seven to eight hours a night.

2. Acknowledge all progress. Congratulate yourself for losing each pound, being able to tack another push-up onto a set and for any other new milestone you hit, no matter how small.

3. Stay in your own world. Avoid comparing yourself with others, especially people you see on television. Everyone loses weight and gets fit at her own rate.

Minutes: 5Walk This Way: Warm up. Start out very easy. As your muscles get loose gradually elevate your tempo.Intensity: 3

Minutes: 5Walk This Way: Quicken your pace and pump your arms. Your heart will beat faster, you'll start to sweat and your breathing will feel labored.Intensity: 7

Minutes: 5Walk This Way: Slow to an easier speed and catch your breath.Intensity: 5

Minutes: 5Walk This Way: Walk as fast as you can and pump your arms. Speaking in full sentences should be difficult. Be sure to maintain good posture.Intensity: 10

Minutes: 5Walk This Way: Take a minute or two to slow your breathing and heart rate. Then transition into a "squat walk": With your shoulders down and chest up, take steps with your knees bent slightly more than normal. This will help tone your butt, thighs and calves.Intensity: 5

Minutes: 5Walk This Way: Crank your speed back up and pump your arms. Toward the end of the 5 minutes, find a curb and complete a set of 10 step-ups with each leg.Intensity: 7

Minutes: 5Walk This Way: Walk as quickly as possible. (Don't worry if it's a little slower than your first effort at this intensity—try the best you can.)Intensity: 10

Minutes: 5Walk This Way: Stroll leisurely until you catch your breath. Then finish with 2 sets of 10 push-ups (lean on a large tree or bench if you can't complete them on the ground).Intensity: 2

Intensity: 1. A very slow, easy stroll. 5. Slightly quicker than your typical walking pace. 10. As fast as you can walk steadily for several minutes.

Perfect Posture

Standing up straight while you walk engages your abdominal muscles and helps you burn even more calories, says Reames. Follow these steps to better posture:

  • Look straight ahead.
  • Keep your shoulders down and back.
  • Turn your chest toward the sky.
  • Bend your elbows to 90 degrees and relax your hands.
  • Draw your navel into your spine.

In addition to making your appearance taller and leaner, proper alignment also helps prevent any aches and pains you may experience during exercise.

Tip: When you increase your walking speed, concentrate on making your steps faster, not lengthening your stride.

Originally published in the July 2011 issue of Family Circle magazine.

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