HEALTH & WELLNESS

Why crushing 30 easy goals in a row will help you stick to your 2016 fitness goals

So here we are again, early February, that vast wasteland of excuses for our failed New Year's resolutions.

Enter fitness expert Jenna Wolfe with her new excuse-busting book, "Thinner in 30," a kind of post-holiday Advent calendar for becoming the thinner, fitter person you've always wanted to be, in digestible little pieces.

The problem with sweeping New Year's Eve resolutions, says Wolfe, perhaps best known to audiences as the fitness and lifestyle correspondent for NBC's "Today" show, is that people try to make huge changes in their lives overnight and then give up when they don't get instant results.

"You took all the days of your life to get wherever you are, and you're not going to change all of that in one day," she said in a telephone interview from the back of a Manhattan taxi. "Yes, it requires work. But if it doesn't challenge you, it won't change you."

Her formula is straightforward. Each short, easy-to-read chapter offers a new task — 30 in all — with the promise that if you do them all daily, step-by-step, not only will you be thinner and fitter, you'll have incorporated the change into your life and become a whole new you.

The trick is in the doing, of course.

Day 1, for instance, is easy; inspiring even: Drink 20 sips of water first thing every morning. But then comes Day 2: Keep a food diary, or Day 3: Clock 10,000 steps each day, and suddenly, all that resolve comes screeching to a halt.

Wolfe anticipates this.

In her book, she recounts how she returned to the gym six weeks after having her second baby. Here she was, a well-known TV fitness expert from her eight-plus years with the "Today" show. Being fit and thin was her job, but she stood there, staring at her reflection, unable to start.

"I finally realized that people don't refuse to change because they're lazy," she wrote. "They refuse it because they're scared. I was afraid to fail, so I was afraid to start."

She did start, moving herself into action by saying out loud, "I can and I will," over and over until she was able to complete her first 45-minute workout. It fell far short of what she'd expected to accomplish, but it was a start, and she was motivated to return by the following, sobering thought: "Unless I wanted another Day One a few weeks down the road, I knew I needed to get right back to the gym."

Three months in, she'd lost enough weight to do the photo shoot for her book. On the cover, Wolfe, 41, could be mistaken for a twentysomething, slender and radiating health, but tell her that and she laughs. "Well, thank you," she said, "but that was 12 pounds ago. We had to meet a deadline, but I was heavier than I wanted to be."

Wolfe and her wife, NBC news correspondent Stephanie Gosk, are juggling jobs in New York while raising their daughters Harper, 2, and Quinn, 11 months, so don't talk to her about being too busy: She left her job with "Today" in November to work on multiple projects, such as advising Microsoft on its new fitness tracker, providing content for the free "Lose It" app and creating videos of exercises and advice for her new website, jennawolfe.com.

"I'm overwhelmed, but I'm beautifully overwhelmed."

health@latimes.com

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
A version of this article appeared in print on February 06, 2016, in the Features section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "Good habits, day by day" — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe
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