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tidewaterreview.com

Start with what you can manage

Ellen Warren

Shopping Adviser

2:00 PM EST, February 22, 2012

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You know you should exercise — but you don't do it. Well, here's some advice that's easy to take: "Don't be so hard on yourself."

That's the view of Maria Brilaki whose website, fitnessreloaded.com is designed to coax nonexercisers to get moving.

"Just stick to what you can do. Forget about what you should do," Brilaki says. "If you beat yourself up, you increase the chance you'll quit."

"If you can't do your full workout, just do five minutes. Just do two exercises. This helps keep the momentum up and keeping the momentum up is really important," she says.

Brilaki's random survey of 541 people showed that two-thirds of the most committed exercisers (those who have been working out for more than five years) reported that they had quit an exercise program in the past.

This shows that even those who have made exercise a habit had a halting start and aren't "natural exercisers," she says.

To help get started, Brilaki offers these pointers:

"Don't get discouraged."

Start with stretches. (I tried the anti-slouch video on her website as I was typing this, and it felt great.)

You don't need a gym or special equipment. A backpack with books inside substitutes for dumbbells. A table, sofa and broomstick are all you need to follow her videos.

Use daily activities (brushing your teeth, putting on shoes) as triggers that remind you to exercise immediately afterward, even if just for a few minutes of squats, stretches, lunges.

Create habits of exercise, no matter how brief, and "sooner or later you'll forget to stop."

Got a bite-size tip on diet, exercise, well-being? Email ewarren@tribune.com.