Make resolutions stick; aim for goal event

By now, regulars at local gyms, yoga studios and swimming pools are feeling a bit cramped by the New Year's resolution temporaries.

To stay patient, some regulars remind themselves: "Wait two weeks and it will be back to normal again."

While anytime is a good time to make a change, many wait until the new year.

I'm actually quite fond of embracing the whole resolution tradition because it makes you think about goals -- pertaining to fitness as well as career, financial and relationships.

Fitness goals became second nature to me when I turned 30 and had an overdue physical. My barely 5-foot 9-inch body tipped the scales at 182, which is heavy for me. I also recall a shirtless photo at the beach where the beginnings of a pot belly were in the works. With a lifelong, overweight father who developed diabetes, it scared me straight.

Marathon mentality

As a runner, I decided to start doing marathons, something you can't fake, and slowly the weight dropped off me and reset my fighting weight at between 145 and 150, just a tad below what I weighed when I graduated college.

I'm not a nut about marathon running. I think two marathons as goal races -- putting it all on the pavement -- are ideal for me, at least so far.

I have learned a lot about training and the body through marathon running, such as breaking months into stages or periods of training, but acknowledge that marathoning is not for everyone.

Still, it can serve as a template for whatever you're into.

Namely, having a significant goal event to train for -- not a body weight or waist size (that will be the byproduct) -- is the key to staying true to your goal for the new year.

Tap the bounty

And in Charleston, or at least this vast United States of America, there's an abundance of challenging fun stuff to do.

Like CrossFit? How about the 16th Citadel Bulldog Challenge on March 3?

Like cycling? How about completing your first 100-mile "century" ride with the annual After the Bridge Run Ride in Francis Marion National Forest on April Fool's Day.

Like the water? How about doing a paddleboard race, such as Charleston Watersport's Shem Creek SUP Shootout on July 7 and Half-Moon Outfitter's Golden Nugget SUP Race on Nov. 4, or enter your first surfing contest.

And in the spirit of Eleanor Roosevelt's great advice, "Do one thing every day that scares you."

Think out of the box and mix it up, like swimming the 2.4-mile Lowcountry Splash (which allows for fins and other aids, as long as you don't expect to win an award) or the newbie-friendly Charleston Sprint Triathlon Series at James Island County Park.

With Google, Meet-Up and Facebook at your fingertips, there's bound to be something you can take aim at.

Break up your year

Next, break up the year into three or four seasons, perhaps with different goal events for each one.

For years, I've done an early spring marathon, a late summer or early fall half Ironman triathlon, and a late fall or early winter marathon, and use shorter events prior to the goal events for training. The routine works with actual seasons and my personality. Frankly, I don't like the idea of biking or swimming in the winter and early spring.

When you break it down, it's all about fun.

I think part of our problem with staying fit is that we call it "exercise," which connotes boredom and work. But being outdoors with others -- walking, running, biking, swimming, playing -- is fun and shouldn't be the chore that New Year's resolutions so often turn it into.