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Get Inspired to Get Fit

Too often, today's homes are plagued with gigantic, dusty machines known as treadmills, rowers and elliptical trainers. They tend to hide in basements — lost, but aggravatingly, not forgotten. "I've got to drag that thing out," its owners will say from time to time. But more often than not, these expensive pieces of equipment stay hidden in the shadows, while the owners stay on the sofa.

The same could be said for gyms. How often have people signed expensive contracts with fitness clubs, only to stop going after the "I just joined a gym!" exhilaration wears off? And women face particular difficulty staying fit — exercise often falls by the wayside in the daily juggle of family, home and career. "I had thought going to the gym might be just what I needed, but actually finding the time to do it? Hah!" said Kerriann Sullivan, 33. "I could barely find time to take a shower."

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Danielle Chung, 39, faced the same problem. "Being able to stay home with the kids was great, but every once in awhile I'd find myself stuck in my own head and want to get out. I loved to go to the gym but once I was there, I'd have no idea what to do."

Lacking an outlet for all that pent-up energy, women often become frustrated, sad and angry. But rather than let that brick wall keep building, working mom Julie Trelstad was inspired to create Sane Fitness Quickstart: Full Body Workouts That Won't Drive You Crazy, a deck of 36 cards, each with photos and instructions on abdominal and strength exercises. As Julie explains, "A sane program makes the best use of the little time you've got available. It makes you feel better, stronger and more able to handle anything your crazy life throws at you!"

Along with the cards is a booklet explaining the equipment and a workout schedule to let you know which workout to do on which day — all handy for someone who is willing to work out, but doesn't know where to begin. A lanyard holds all the cards together to make them easy to bring to the gym so you can, according to Julie, "just show up, work out, go home."

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Meanwhile, Kerriann's inspiration to go to the gym came from the good old ego. "I'd bring my son to the park, and it seemed like all the other moms had these great bodies. I knew that didn't just happen — it's the rare woman who can get her body back with no effort. So I had to stop making excuses because, obviously, they didn't."

And how has that worked out for her? "I've lost 20 pounds in the last six months. It was slow going at first, which was the most frustrating. But I was going from a half-mile to a mile, then using the incline, then running. I can honestly say I've never felt better."

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For Danielle, committing to a time made the most sense. "I realized that I just had to make it a point to carve out my own time. Once I made a schedule, I stuck to it. I started working out just twice a week, then three times, then four. Oh, and the thing I changed? Once I had a great workout, I stopped rewarding myself with food. That had kept my weight up and frustrated the whole process. Now I reward myself with a book or an outfit for the kids. It's made all the difference."

We all know that getting fit isn't easy. But here are some handy points of reference to read when your momentum lands you on the couch.

Sane Fit Quickstart's Five Reasons for Getting in Shape

  • Gain self-confidence. Feel comfortable in your own skin. What better way to "dress for success"?
  • Have more energy. There won't be more hours in the day; you'll just feel like there are.
  • Control your weight. The days of your weight controlling you are over.
  • Gain strength. Lift your baby, your briefcase, and your groceries with ease.
  • Age gracefully and beautifully. Aging is inevitable; it doesn't have to be unenviable.

American Heart Association's Five Tips for Exercise Success

Want to get the most from your workout, plus and incentive to keep coming back? The American Heart Association has these tips to keep exercise from becoming yet another chore in your life:

  • Choose activities that are fun, not exhausting.
  • Use music to keep you entertained.
  • Surround yourself with supportive people. Find a companion to exercise with you if it will help you stay on a regular schedule and add to your enjoyment.
  • Keep a record of your activities. Reward yourself at special milestones. Nothing motivates like success!
  • Don't overdo it. Do low- to moderate-level activities, especially at first. You can slowly increase the duration and intensity of your activities as you become more fit. Over time, work up to 30-60 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week.

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