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The question: I always plan to go to the gym after work, but usually end up bailing. Now that it is September I really want to get on track. Any advice on how I can actually get to the gym after work?

The answer: Do you skip because of unexpected work or social obligations, or do you get lazy and then talk yourself out of training?

If motivation is an issue, try talking yourself through how you will feel depending on the choices you make.

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This mind game really works for me: I tell myself, yes, if I skip my workout I can relax, but the quality of my relaxation time will be compromised – I will be metaphorically kicking myself the entire time.

On the flip side, if I am active, even for 20 minutes, I will enjoy relaxing. Plus, I will feel great and my entire day will be better.

So, the next time you want to skip a workout, walk yourself through how you will feel in three hours, and remind yourself why you formed the goal in the first place.

Can't convince yourself to complete your entire workout? Make yourself do something, even just for 10 minutes. Walk home from work, or do body-weight exercises in front of the TV.

But if you're skipping the gym because of structural roadblocks such as after-work obligations, you are most likely not taking the time to map out your schedule in advance, or setting realistic and specific goals.

You probably make what I call "fitness wishes." Without follow-through, simply saying "I am going to work out" is basically the same thing as wishing you will get fit.

Turn your wish into a reality by establishing your goals in more detail. Then, take the time to brainstorm how you can actually accomplish the goals.

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For example, say, "I am going to meet my friend at the gym three times per week after work. We will schedule the workouts into our calendars. When I have evening work events, I will walk at lunch."

Write down (or record with an app) your weekly goals. Take the time to reflect on what you did well and what areas need improvement. Then, figure out how you can reproduce your positive health choices. Next, anticipate future roadblocks and find solutions for those problems in advance.

Trainer's tip: Don't set yourself up for failure! If you know you can't make it to the gym, make a realistic workout routine for home. Need help being accountable? Find a gym buddy. Never make it to the gym after work? Go before work or at lunch.

Kathleen Trotter has been a personal trainer and Pilates equipment specialist for 10 years. Her website is www.kathleentrotter.com.

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