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Best Life

A trainer's secrets to staying fit and motivated

Bob Greene is an exercise physiologist and certified personal trainer. He is also a renowned author and frequent guest on "Oprah." Follow Bob online at www.thebestlife.com.

Getting up early, getting to the gym and getting in a workout seems so effortless for fitness pros. Yeah, right! We all have those days when we want to pull the covers over our heads. But instead of rolling back over in bed, we resort to a few tricks that help us stay motivated. I'll let you in on some to help make your sweat sessions feel like, well, no sweat!

Always be prepared
Keep a bag stocked with shoes, socks, shorts, a shirt, soap, a towel and whatever other items you need post-workout. It's like having a traveling locker in your car or office.

Build a bigger engine
Fitness pros know the more you challenge your body, the more it adapts to the workload. In other words, taking on a greater challenge today gives you the ability to take on tougher challenges in the future. And that means more calories burned. It comes down to having a bigger engine, or a healthier cardiovascular system. Your cardiovascular system and the muscles it feeds with oxygen are what determine how much work you can do. Fit people have the capacity to perform a lot of work. It's not unusual for a fit person to be able to increase his metabolic rate (the rate at which he burn calories) 15 to 20 times what his normal resting level is during a workout! A less conditioned person may only be able to elevate the calorie-burning rate by six to eight times-less than half the calories a fit person can burn!

Live actively
Fitness pros know that to be healthy, you have to be a truly active person. That means incorporating fitness into every aspect of your life-not just when you're at the gym.

Spice it up
To reap the benefits of exercise, you have to shake things up a little. Professionals do it with a system called "periodization," which means training a certain way for a period of time (usually three to six weeks), and then changing it up. For instance, focus on long aerobic workouts for a few days or weeks, and then change to shorter, more intense workouts.

Set goals
Fitness pros set realistic, but challenging, goals that focus on becoming a healthier person so they can achieve their dreams. For example, you have a hiking trip planned with pals and you don't want to let them down. If a goal is personal, challenging and rewarding, you won't even blink when the alarm goes off.