The final week of our Back to Fitness Challenge is upon us. I hope you are sticking to your plan on our final week. Then what? Do you go back to your old ways or do you adopt your plan as a part of your lifestyle. The choice is yours…of course, you know what I recommend. After 12 weeks, I leave  you with these final Dos and Don’ts to give you extra staying power.

Stick with what works for you. If you’re good with your new routine as is, then why not stick with it?  If you feel it may not be sustainable in the long run, make adjustments so it can fit comfortably into your lifestyle without too much effort or inconvenience.

Stay focused on your goals and your results. I recommend setting small goals that will add up to your bigger goal. Work through them one at a time. Every time you reach a small goal, you can celebrate it with a small reward and then move on to the next small goal. Keep working through them one at a time.

Rewards can be great motivators. Just try to keep the level of the reward equivalent to each goal: offer yourself smaller rewards for the small goals and a big reward for your final goal. You can choose anything you like, but I’d stay away from the types of rewards that work against your efforts (more on this below). Instead choose something that may help you reach your next goal. For example, if you are aiming to run your first half-marathon, you could reward yourself with a new running top, a water bottle belt or other accessories you may need and finish with new running shoes or spa day.

Keep your chin up, no matter what or who tries to get in the way of your success. Ignore the bad little voice in your head that will try to influence you to skip your workout. Instead, listen for the good little voice inside your gut. It can be very faint at times, but it’s typically there trying to remind you about all the goodness you will feel inside and out when you stick with your plan. You can generally count on your gut feeling to lead you in the right direction.

Don’t listen to your fake “supporters,” the people in your life who constantly try to talk you out of your workout and into happy hour.  The ones who say “Skip it!  Just this once,” but say it all the time. The way I see it, they are just jealous that you are committed and that you feel and look great. Does this mean you should give up your social life? Of course not!  Just plan for it and make your own choices.

Don’t use exercise as a form of punishment. All too often I hear things like “If I don’t work out today, I’ll do twice as much tomorrow,” and “for each cookie I eat, I’ll do 10 push-ups,” or “I’ll treat myself to some key lime pie and go for a run in the morning.” That train of thinking will make fitness and exercise a terribly negative experience. Positive reinforcement will go a long way when it comes to training yourself to lead an active lifestyle.

Don’t use exercise as an excuse to overindulge. Does this post-workout sentence sound familiar? “I’m going to have dessert tonight, I earned it.” The reality is, you will consume the same, likely more, calories than you burned. How about this one before or during a meal? “I’ll treat myself to slice of key lime pie and go for a run in the morning.” If you reward yourself in advance, chances are you’ll have more fitness I owe yous than you can possibly pay back. Instead, pay it forward to yourself and your health.

Now that you got back into fitness, have tips and tools to help you along, there’s no excuse to turn back. Keep moving forward, hold your head high and don’t let anyone get in your way of leading an active and healthy lifestyle.

Katya MohsenKatya Mohsen is a personal trainer with more than 10 years of experience in fitness and sports training. Catch her practical fitness advice Thursdays on Slice.ca.