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Being fit makes you stronger, healthier and happier. Everyone can work toward better fitness, whether they consider themselves an athlete or not. If you aren’t in the habit of eating right and exercising, starting can be very hard.

Slow and steady

Start by setting up some easy-to-reach fitness and nutrition goals. If you’ve been sedentary for awhile, try short walks and bike rides. Introduce more vegetables and water into your diet. Maintain a positive attitude as you slowly ease into a healthier lifestyle and you’ll reap the rewards sooner than you realize!

Team up for success

Getting a friend or family member involved is a proven way to meet your goals. When you set a date for a walk together, for example, you commit to a specific fitness activity. That makes it harder to back out when your inner self says, “I’ll just do it tomorrow.” It’s also a way to make time and space for relationships while doing something active and positive together.

Make it fun

Why do kids love running around, playing games and PE class? Because it’s fun! You can apply that to any exercise or nutrition goal. Find a way to make it fun and you’ll look forward to it. Organize a team of walkers in your neighborhood, or a group that wants to practice traditional dance – no matter what their age! Partner up with a family member to learn how to make a healthy food together. Not only will the time pass quickly, but then you’ll both know how to whip it up in the future.

Focus on YOU

We are often hard on ourselves, making comparisons with entertainers, athletes in their prime, or even friends and family we consider in better shape than ourselves. That kind of thinking isn’t motivating, though, so teach yourself to focus on your own progress. Keep moving, and when you start feeling stronger, more energetic and more positive about life, you’ll know it’s working!

Tips for setting fitness goals

Be realistic. It’s important to set goals that you can reach. When you set the bar too high, it’s discouraging when you aren’t successful. Come up with a goal that is definitely attainable. As you get in the habit of moving your body more, for longer periods of time, you’ll be able to set more challenging goals – and keep meeting them!

Keep it simple. Goals should be straightforward. For example, “I’ll play soccer with my friends for an hour three times a week,” “I’ll increase my activity time by 5 minutes each week until I reach 60 minutes a day,” or “I’ll skip sugar-sweetened beverages this week.” !

Make it easy and affordable. Make sure you don’t add barriers to success, such as fitness activities that take too much time or money to do. For example, your success will be delayed if your goal includes working out only in a gym that’s far from your house, or if you plan to start eating right only when you can afford to go on a special diet. !

Write it down. Document your progress so you can also see how far you’ve progressed. If you have a computer or smartphone, you might check out free apps that help you track your activity level and what you eat. If not, scratch paper or a small notepad work fine too!

Push through

A challenging goal takes work to reach. Sometimes you might want to give up. If you are patient, and push through with hard work and a positive attitude, you can do it!


Special Thanks: Derek Chang graduated with a Bachelors degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Utah. Go Utes! He was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. He aspires to become a physician-entrepreneur to find and create new ways of improving overall patient health. He enjoys skiing, hiking, camping, reading books, meeting new people, and learning anything new.

Many articles in this section were adapted from, a website for Native Youth by Native Youth