msnbc.com
updated 2/3/2006 2:03:19 PM ET 2006-02-03T19:03:19

Does it seem like you've tried everything to get in shape? Did you join a gym at the beginning of the year, but have only gone twice?

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During January, MSNBC.com offered a daily fitness tip for people who were determined to shape up and slim down in 2006. But if you're struggling to get started, or you've spent a lifetime trying to lose those extra pounds, here is a collection of personal tips from MSNBC.com readers who have discovered their own secrets to fitness success:

Exercise, it's what you make it
I spend most of my day sitting at a desk, working on the computer. My office is on the 5th floor. Whenever I get up to visit the restroom or to get a drink (of water), I go to the stairwell and do the stairs — all the way down and then back up. If I am tempted to grab a snack, the stairs usually cure me of that urge. Also, my boyfriend just gave me a pedometer and I'm wearing it every day at the office — it inspires me to add more steps to my day.
— MK, Virginia Beach, Va.

VARIETY. Get several DVDs to work out with, and rotate them. If you get bored, time to get a new one. Soon, you will have favorites. Use different equipment, different days. VARIETY.
— Charlotte M., Towanda, Pa.

Wear something comfortable and that you feel good in. Don't worry what others think about your outfit. Wear what works for you.
— Stacy, Arlington, Wash.

Hold your ab muscles tight the whole time you pump gas or walk to the mailbox. While standing in line (grocery store or bank), stand with your legs 12 inches apart and try to slide them together; this is an old anaerobic exercise.
— Jo M., Houston

Work out in the morning. Although it will have been hours since you've last eaten, most people aren't famished when they awaken in the morning ... You'll feel better all day, and are less likely to pig out because you already started the day on a positive note. When you first begin, get to bed earlier the night before so you don't lose too much sleep. As the weeks go by, you will find that you require less sleep anyway because your body is becoming more efficient. The sleep you do get will be better also!
— Patti, Grand Rapids, Mich.

I have a game console at home and I got the dance mat and game so that I could do about 10 to 15 minutes a day on the dance mat. You kick up a sweat and you're active! A simple way to help lose weight!
— Sarah H., London

I am 58 years old and have been steadily exercising in a wellness program that is available at our university. As I've gotten older, my knees and hips have gone to hell and I have had to modify my exercise from step and aerobics to weight-lifting and yoga and walking. The things I have to do for my older body are to keep up a steady pace and not quit.
— Darcy H., Bozeman, Mont.

I have been struggling to stick with a fitness routine all my life. In October of 2005 I decided to make a financial investment in my health by signing on with a personal trainer. I made this decision based on the fact that I needed structure within my workout regimen. The fact that I schedule with the trainer in advance and pay for the workout keeps me going. He also pushes me more than I would myself. I feel better than I have in a long time and look forward to making improvements in 2006.
— Mike L., Denver

Eating, it's time to get in control
When you feel those afternoon munchies coming on, drink a full glass of water instead, it gets rid of the craving, and it's good for you.
B, Osage Beach, Mo.

Portion sizes at restaurants these days are out of control! When I order a meal I always ask the waitress for a box and put half of my meal in the box before I even pick up my fork to eat. Keeps the calories down and gives me lunch for the next day!
— Sue, Philadelphia

I use the U.S. Department of Agriculture's "My Pyramid Tracker" to keep track of not only calories taken in but the nutritional content of my food as well. It is an eye-opener and keeps me focused on eating the "right stuff" for good health.
— Robin R., Mattawan, Mich.

Whenever you get the urge for a high-calorie meal or perhaps a decadent dessert, prepare one yourself. The time and energy invested in the preparation will burn calories, and you will tend to consume less because you wish to flaunt your culinary skills to friends and family.
— Arianna, Newburgh, N.Y.

Cook at home. Cooking at home is a great way to control added salt, sugar and fat. It is also a great way to exercise portion control. It is easier to know how much fat, protein and carbohydrates you are eating when you create your own meals rather than eating out.
— Kristin, Houston

Give up on drinking sodas! It's tricky, but it goes a long way with exercise.
— Miriam S., Bowling Green, Ohio

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