Groups like Outdoor Afro are free sources of support, friendly accountability and like-minded people. (Photo: Outdoor Afro)

Groups like Outdoor Afro are free sources of support, friendly accountability and like-minded people. (Photo: Outdoor Afro)

If you’ve been pondering another New Year’s resolution to get fitter, leaner and stronger and you’re slow walking it to the Jan. 1 starting line – again – try it a different way this year.

Take a tip from some businesses, and do a slow rollout. Give your fitness effort a trial run for the rest of December.

No one says to go all out tomorrow. Take a little time to get your mind aligned with your goals and how you plan to meet them. Just start the ball rolling, and it’ll be easier to ramp it up from the treadmill than from the couch. So plan, and fine-tune on the move. By Jan. 1, you will have made headway toward your goals.

You’ll be in good company. The folks in gyms and on the trails between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve are pretty dedicated. And at this time of year, there are likely to be fewer people around jockeying for the elliptical machine.

Here are a few tips on your better body launch:

  • Do you. Personalize your plan. Why do you want to make this change? To lose weight, lower blood pressure or cholesterol, increase bone density, decrease stress, manage blood sugar? Note what’s important to you and the ways you’ll plot your success.
  • Take a clear look at your eating, sleeping and workout habits and decide what changes to make first. And adjust it as needed.
  • Eat real food. Diets and weight-loss product commercials will be in high gear soon. But real food in reasonable, satisfying portions should be your base. Cooking at home is a great place to start. Eat more vegetables and fruits. Start to phase out the foods that will impede your progress. If you expect blowback from family, be ready to counter in whatever way will keep the peace AND keep you on track toward your goals. Remember that nutrition will be key in changing your body and boosting your overall health.
  • Manage holiday stress. If you think you don’t have time to exercise, you probably need it most. Family, gift lists, shopping and even working harder on the job right before vacation can take a toll. Sweat it out. Be selfish about it if you have to.· Anticipate glitches. Do you need a good gym bag or a more supportive bra? Will you have enough time to get ready for work after your morning walk? Catching the snags early can help prevent them from becoming roadblocks.
  • Get support. From GirlTrek to Black Girls: RUN! to Outdoor Afro, there are lots of free sources of support, friendly accountability and like-minded people. is also a source of group walks and hikes and info on healthier approaches to eating.
  • Get your mind right. The slow rollout can give you a chance to adjust to the beneficial changes you’re poised to make. And a plan designed to respond to real life is a plan that can last.

Nichele Hoskins is a Birmingham, Alabama-based writer and a certified Spinning instructor.

On the Road for the Holidays?

If you’re away from home during the holiday like lots of folks, don’t give up on working out just because you’re holed up in your cousin’s spare bedroom. Ditto if you’re lucky enough to spend the holiday in a new locale; use the getaway to your advantage.

  • Pack your sneakers, workout clothes and lightweight gear, like exercise bands or a jump rope.
  • Round up the youngsters, and go outside and play.
  • Take a stroll (especially after meals). See the local sites, or explore the Christmas lights downtown or in a nearby neighborhood. Every little step you take makes a difference. And if you want to keep track of them, trade your pedometer for an app like Sports Tracker, Map My Run or Endomondo.
  • Check out the hotel-room workout that some places offer, or start your day in the fitness center.