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Is exercise worth it?

A thought rattled around my empty brain as I battled a 50-kilometre per hour headwind on an 11-kilometre run into work this morning.

What the hell am I doing? Even the sun appeared to have second thoughts about rising.

Yeah, conditions were far from ideal. I could just as easily have headed into the basement and run on the treadmill — wearing shorts. Or I could've hit the snooze button and let the sound of the howling wind lull me into a few more precious winks.

Thing is, if I wanted to get my exercise in today it had to be in the morning. Thank you schedule.

In the grand scheme of things, missing one 11 K run won't leave you any less fit. Missing that one workout probably won't make a difference in your final result, if you're doing something like training for a marathon.

And some days it can be a little easier to brush off that workout, especially when you come across news stories that hint that while exercise has its benefits, those benefits may be oversold.

That's right — getting fit might not extend your life, ward off heart disease, or reduce your cholesterol levels. It might, but it might not.

Or — if you've just turned over a new leaf and promised this is the year that you're going to morph your sedentary self into a more active being — you may be hitting that point where your fitness commitment is wavering. Maybe you've taken seriously that made-up math equation declaring the third Monday in January the most depressing day of the year. The day that you realize that you won't instantly get fit and that you'll probably have plenty of time to watch the recession unfold on that big-screen TV that pushed your credit card to the limit at Christmas.

It can be demoralizing when you realize that making a New Year's resolution won't change your life. The resolution is your goal and you have to have a plan to achieve it. Nutritionist Andrea Holwegner lists four small changes you can make to your eating habits to achieve big results.

That's right — small changes lead to big results. Getting from the starting point to your goal may seem like a huge task, until you break it down into smaller, measurable goals. As you begin achieving each of those smaller goals, you realize you can get to your major goal, whether you're training for a marathon or trying to lose 20 pounds.

It may be the most important thing you learn when you start an exercise regime or a training program. Achieving goals keeps you motivated.

It's no fun to fight the wind on a cold morning. That one workout likely won't improve your physical fitness — but getting through it may do something for your mental fitness. You've earned the satisfaction of knowing that you kept a promise to yourself.

And it makes that tub of coffee and greasy breakfast sandwich taste a little better, too.

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