According to the University of Scranton's Journal of Clinical Psychology, losing weight is the number one New Year's resolution of 2014.  The same article goes on to say that 45% of Americans usually make a New Year's resolution but only 8% successfully achieve their resolution. Even worse, 24% fail to achieve their resolution year after year. Those statistics aren't the greatest and there are plenty of articles and blog posts full of tips to keep your resolutions and plenty of posts with advice on ways to lose weight. I can only tell you about the best way I've found to lose weight: running. For me, running is the ultimate exercise. It relieves stress, it makes me less angry, it gets me outside in the fresh air, it makes me euphoric (naturally), and improves my focus and concentration. Overall, running makes me a happier person. And, running is the easiest way I've found to lose weight and keep it off.

If you aren't a runner it probably either seems simple (throw on some shoes, go outside, and put one foot in front of the other) or incredibly daunting. No matter how you look at it, it's a good idea to start running correctly.

10 Tips on How to Start Running

  1. Wear the right shoes. You should go to a running specialty store where an expert can check your gait, size, etc and help you get fitted properly. You may need a stability shoe or one with more cushioning.  The right shoes can help you avoid injury. Your friend's old shoes won't do it either. Worn out shoes can cause injury and just because those shoes were great for someone else doesn't mean they are right for you. (Tip: Once you get fitted by a professional you can go online and find the best price.)

  2. Start slow. It's better to take your time and work on your form and endurance rather than running as fast as you can until you collapse. If you work up to it, you'll end up running longer with less of a chance of injuries. Going too far and/or too fast can cause runner's knee, shin splints or the painful IT band syndrome.

  3. Maintain proper form. Keep your head up, looking straight ahead, not down at your feet. Flex your elbows about 90 degrees, then swing your arms front to back while keeping your hands relaxed. Roll your shoulders back and down, away from your ears. It helps to visualize yourself walking tall.

  4. Breathe. In through your nose, out through your mouth. Repeat.

  5. Alternate running and walking. The easiest way to start running is to begin by running and walking. You can do a simple strategy of run for 30 seconds, walk for 30 seconds, run for 30 seconds (for about 20 minutes) and then the next time run for a minute, walk for a minute, run for a minute, and so on. Or you can use something like the Couch to 5K program. Plus, there are plenty of apps that tell you when to run and when to walk. The important thing is to do the walking parts, even if you feel like you don't need them. It's better to finish a walk/run then to run for the first part and barely make it home in the second.

  6. Take days off. When you are just starting to run, it's a good idea not to run every day. As a new runner your body needs time to recover. You may only need one day or you may need two, the important thing is to...

  7. Listen to your body. Yes, you may be sore after you start running. However, if you experience sharp pains or your pain keeps getting worse or is only in one part of your body (and on one side) then stop running and don't push yourself. Let yourself heal. Check with your doctor if the pain persists.

  8. Stay safe. Don't run through any neighborhood you wouldn't walk through. Use your common sense and run where you feel comfortable. If you are running on a road, then watch out for traffic. In super bad weather, you might want to run indoors on a treadmill rather than risking a slip and fall on some ice.

  9. Get motivated. Believe it or not, running can be addictive. However, in the beginning just getting out of the door can be hard. It helps to set small goals and take it one day at a time. For example, tell yourself that this week, I'll run Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and don't even think about the week after yet. Once you experience how wonderful running can make you feel, you may have a harder time forcing yourself to rest.

  10. Eat. Just because you are trying to lose weight doesn't mean you should starve yourself. Food is energy and you need energy if you're running. Just be smart and eat healthy: fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and lean protein.

Good luck! Have a healthy & happy 2014!