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It's Crunch Time

It's Crunch TimeGetting in shape, especially after the holidays, is a lot easier said than done -- but a Tufts nutrition expert says most people can "shape up" without even leaving the house.

Boston [01.11.02] For many people, the New Year's resolution to get back in shape was easy enough to make. Actually keeping it, however, often turns out to be a lot harder. But Tufts' Miriam Nelson, one of the nation's leading experts in strength training, says there are some simple, yet valuable strategies to stay motivated and committed to "shaping up" -- and they can be done without even leaving the house.

Nelson, a nutrition expert and author of multiple books on fitness and nutrition, says that setting reasonable expectations is the key to maintaining a fitness routine.

"Hard body stuff is not right for the 65-year-old woman who has never exercised," Nelson told The Boston Globe. "Whatever your goal is, it needs to be attainable and measurable, and it needs to be something that you know you can achieve."

Finding an exercise partner can make a big difference as well.

"Having a friend that you do this with is really effective, or a group," Nelson told the Globe. "My neighbors come over and we always lift weights on Saturday mornings."

According to the Tufts nutrition expert, it's important to vary exercise routines.

"After 12 weeks or six months or so, it is a good idea to start to mix and match your routine, so you don't get bored and you're getting different muscle groups," Nelson told the Boston newspaper. "With aerobic exercise, go a little bit longer and a little bit faster, so you're always moving up, until you're at a level where you're feeling really fit and really good, and then keep to that."

Don't belong to a gym? Don't worry. Nelson says creating a home gym can be done easily and inexpensively.

Household furniture can make a good substitute for fitness equipment, Nelson told the Globe. For example, sturdy chairs offer support for squats, a piano bench can double as a weight bench and step-up exercises can be done at the bottom of a flight of steps.

"Then, [Nelson says] all that's needed for a rigorous workout are weights, an exercise mat, and good sneakers," reported the Globe.

The director of Tufts' Center for Physical Fitness, Nelson recommended that people create their home gyms in rooms where they already spend time, like the TV room or a home office.

Storing fitness equipment in a visible and convenient place will also act as a reminder and help to keep up motivation, Nelson told the Globe.

If that doesn't work, Nelson suggests trying a non-conventional workout to increase the fun factor.

"Just get a couple of good CDs that you like, and dance," she told the Globe. "That's what I do with my children in the wintertime-we just dance, and it's great fun."

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