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Keep Your Fitness on Track

Grab a buddy and practice making YOU-turns

“The most important thing you can do for your health today is to walk 30 minutes — and then call a buddy,” says Michael Roizen, MD, Chief Wellness Officer and Chairman of Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute.

That fitness buddy relationship — being a buddy and having a buddy — is vital to keeping your health goals on track. You and your fitness buddy should have a supportive, kind and non-judgmental relationship. So if you’ve gone for your 30-minute walk only to arrive home and eat seven cookies, you can feel confident that your buddy won’t scold you.

“It’s your buddy’s job to find out how you are and how he or she can encourage you to correct your behavior so you can get back on track,” says Dr. Roizen.

The buddy system works like a GPS satellite navigation system in a car, helping to navigate you without judgment. You plug in your destination, and the system plots your current and final points. When you turn onto the wrong street, the GPS doesn’t berate you; doesn’t scold you; doesn’t tell you that you might as well park the car forever. Instead, it politely says, “At the next available moment, make an authorized U-turn.”

The GPS recognizes the mistake and simply guides you back onto the right road.

“That’s the kind of mentality you and your fitness buddy need,” says Dr. Roizen. “You and your buddy are going to make wrong turns. You’re going to turn left at the cookies, make a right at the cheesecake, and occasionally arrive at the intersection of buttermilk pancakes and sausage patties. Does that mean you should park the car and give up on being healthy? Of course not!

“Understand that you get a do-over,” says Dr. Roizen. “If your buddy can encourage you to correct your behavior — and you can do the same for her — then each of you can make a YOU-Turn and stay on a healthy track.”

Dr. Michael Roizen nudges healthier behaviors on many television shows including Oprah, Good Morning America, PBS fundraisers, and 20/20. His bestselling RealAge and You series of books are available wherever books are sold. Take the free RealAge quiz by visiting realage.com, and discover what your “real” age is versus your calendar age, and more important, what you can do (other than walk and have a fitness buddy, although those are two biggies) to make yourself younger.