For me, starting an exercise program was never a problem. I would just wait until my choices were exercise or an entirely new wardrobe, and off I’d go. Up at six, nearly every morning, for nearly a month. But then, the novelty would wear off. My pants nearly fit properly, and buying a few new pairs no longer seemed like such a terrible alternative to exercise every morning until I was back to my high school weight. It took me years of falling in and out of exercise before I was finally able to find a way to stick to an exercise regimen until I reached my goal weight.

Be prepared to stick to it for the long haul. One of the major causes of frustration is not seeing results right away. I blame those commercials for pills and exercise equipment that promise near-instantaneous results. You say what you have to, to push your product, but in real life it doesn’t work that way. According to the New York Times, it takes six months to a year to significantly change the way your body looks. Period. No matter what exercise regimen you choose. Sorry. But the good news is that a one year commitment can lead to a lifetime of benefits. Plus, other than yo-yo exercising and dieting all of your life, you really don’t have any other choice.

Keep a diary. It’s inevitable. You’re going to slack off eventually. And if you skip exercise for too long, you’ll forget about all of the positive emotions that came out of those few hours a week at the gym (better body-image, increased energy, mood-lift, and appetite control, etc.) and you’ll convince yourself that it feels much better to lay on the couch. If you keep a detailed diary of your physical and mental experiences while you’re still into your exercise routine, you can crack it open when you’re feeling less motivated. It will be a great reminder of the reasons why you started exercising in the first place, and will help you get back on the wagon. To help you out with your exercises, make sure you are using the right tools and equipment. Your workout will be worthless if you are just using alternative tools. So make sure you are supported by the right equipment such as hip flexor stretch.

Know That a little is Better Than Nothing. You won’t always be able to make it to the gym, and you’ll be more motivated some weeks than others. But don’t just throw out the idea of exercise altogether just because you can’t spare an hour for exercise. You can substitute a few repetitions (15 minutes of sit-ups, leg-lifts, or squats) on your problem area for You can substitute a formal work out for a few repetitions on your problem areas. Take out 15 min. to do sit-ups, or leg-lifts, or squats. Take the dog for an extra-long walk. Do something.. You’ll see progress even if you can’t commit 100% which will help keep you motivated until you can get back into your routine.

Keep close track of your progress. This doesn’t just mean getting on the scale at the end of every workout. That’s just demoralizing. And, as a matter of fact, the best gauge of your progress is actually your tape measure. Keep track of your bust, hip, and waist measurement. Scales can be deceiving, and you can get smaller without losing more than a few ounces. Every week (I like to do it on Sunday), write down your measurements and your weight. This way you can have a better idea of the progress you’ve made and be encouraged to go further.

Make it Interesting. I don’t just mean varying your exercise routine, although you should definitely do that. I mean interesting like making a bet with friends. My friends and I planned a trip to Brazil at the anniversary of our Exercise Plan Pact. The beaches were great motivation, and the losers had to reimburse the winner for her plane ticket. But you can do anything. I recommend something that takes around a year to save up for, and that puts you in a bathing suit or an outfit that you’ve been dying to wear.