Those who have made a goal of getting fit this year should be realistic about what they want to achieve and make a regular routine so they don't fall off the wagon in a few weeks, says a Vancouver fitness expert.

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Fleur Palliardi is the fitness manager for the YWCA Health and Fitness Centre in Vancouver. (Margaret Gallagher/CBC)

"It's really important to make tangible goals and not expect miracles, and work toward them and be consistent," says Fleur Palliardi, the fitness manager for the YWCA Health and Fitness Centre.

"If you're going to stick with a New Year's resolution, you want to stick with 12 weeks, and then see how you feel."

Palliardi, who worked in the fitness world for 35 years, told The Early Edition's Margaret Gallagher what people can do to stick to their goals:

Gallagher: What's the biggest mistake people make with setting new fitness goals?

Palliardi: They want to come in every day of the week and expect big results. Really what you want to be looking for is that tangible goal that you can read: see how your body feels, see how your clothes feel, feel the energy in your body, and then value that.

What's your best advice for staying on track?

Do something that you really enjoy so it's going to make you feel great and will make you want to come back and do it again. Try different things to find out what works best for you — yoga, aerobics, walking the dog longer, or walking or biking to work.

If you haven't been in a gym setting a fitness class is a great way to start, because the instructor can help you with your form. Or hire a personal trainer, they're good value, and maybe you only need two appointments to get you on a routine for three months

How much exercise do we really need to get in order to be healthy?

Exercise at least three days a week. You have to be consistent. But you can workout one day, and then have a day off. You also need to be active at least every day in your life for at least 30 minutes.

How can we realistically make time in our lives for fitness?

It needs to be important to you and it needs to fit into your schedule. So diarize it. Decide if you will do it before work, during work, or after work. A fitness routine should be like brushing your teeth.

You don't have to spend a lot of time. Thirty minutes in an active class is going to give you all you need.

What's your advice for people who may have already fallen off the wagon and skipped the gym today?

Don't be down on yourself, tomorrow is a new day. If you didn't do so well the day before, go out and take a 30 minute walk and make the resolve and get back on track.

This interview has been edited and condensed


To hear the full story listen to the audio labelled: Tips to help fresh fitness enthusiasts stay on track and not fall off the wagon