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Rock a tutu

Challenge yourself to a 5km race on the weekend to help stay motivated and increase your fitness.

Nothing gets you cracking on a goal like making it official. Sign up for a 5K race, then tell everyone you know that you're going to run. Now you have a deadline, and the motivation to train in order to follow through on your goal. "A race keeps runners accountable," says Susan Paul. "You're training, not just running for fitness, and you have a plan, a starting point and an end point." Once you commit to a race and running it continuously, you'll reap more than renewed motivation.

Walk a mile, and you burn about 70 calories. Run a mile, and you'll torch roughly 100. While the exact number varies depending on your weight and pace, if one of your goals is to shed pounds, you'll do it faster by running.

 "When we sign up for a race, we become athletes," says Patti Finke, a coach in Portland, Oregon. "We take better care of ourselves. We train properly, eat in a healthy manner, and get enough sleep."

And when you accomplish something you never thought possible—like running an entire 5K—it buoys your self-esteem.

"So many novice runners are so insecure and feel like they 'don't belong out there,'" says Paul. "But running a 5K means you committed to training and had the guts to follow through with it—that's huge."

After it's over, you'll be able to break down the race from your new perspective—that of a real runner. You'll head to breakfast with your running buddies, and recap the highlights: "I went out too fast, but I calmed down at the first turn." "That hill at mile two was a killer." "So, when's the next race?" "I passed that guy in a tutu."