Possibly more than any other time of the year, more people begin to think about getting in better shape sometime in the coming months. For most people, it’s merely a wish for reality, but for others, there’s going to be an actual attempt to make this wish come true. Fitness centers and hardcore gyms report that memberships usually skyrocket sometime after the second week of January.

The question I get from many that want to shape-up after the New Year holiday is “how long do I have to stay on the program”.

The answer to this question differs for each individual, but in general, the answer is usually “for as long as you want to stay in shape.” Let’s face it, you’re not as young and active as you used to be. But I find that this question generally comes from the individual who’s not really serious about getting in shape, and who’s probably not going to make a serious attempt at doing so.

The reason I mention this is that I want people who’re going to be making a serious decision and an actual attempt to get in shape to realize one thing. This cannot be a short-term deal. Any diet and/or exercise program that allows you to get in shape quickly is not going to provide life-long fitness.

In addition, if you’re not as active as you’ve always been, chances are, like most of us, you’re going to have to stay on it for the rest of your active life. Not quite the news you wanted to hear, but it’s the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Of course, the only other alternative is, settling for what you currently look like and dealing with the agony of how you feel right now.

If you happen to be one of those individuals who haven’t been in good shape for quite a while, I recommend that you set yourself a long-term goal right now. Employ a fitness program that promotes gradual diet and exercise changes and make sure it’s one that’s not boring. Above all, make sure that it’s one you can stay with.

Set your goals high. Why not go all the way if you’re going to be making the sometimes painful changes anyway? Instead of thinking about losing a few pounds, set your sights on being the best you can be. Don’t try to make it a quick objective, but do make it measurable over a reasonable period of time. Before you know it, you’ll be getting the comments, whistles and catcalls you used to get when you were a teenager. Go For It!