What are you thankful for?

Fitness is the foundation of a healthy life, yet so many of us take our well-being for granted. Don't wait for another New Year's resolution to roll around to set self-improvement goals. Get a jump start on your ambitions by harvesting healthy habits now so you can reap their benefits for years to come.

This is week one of your "November to Remember Fitness Plan." Check in each week to learn the top techniques and toning tools necessary to revamp your motivation, muscles and overall wellness.

What motivates you? If your motive for exercise stems from wanting to look good for an upcoming event such as a wedding or vacation, the likelihood of adhering to your routine post-occasion is improbable. Fitness goals fail when they are tied to temporary targets. Once your event comes and goes, so will your desire to fulfill your aerobic ambitions.

Achieve your goals for good by assessing what really drives you. Whether you have high cholesterol that needs to be managed, or suffer from anxiety and want to ease the symptoms of stress, find a healthy meaning for your motivation and your goals will be easier to achieve and maintain.

It's time for a plan. So you made a firm decision to finally get healthy but you aren't quite sure how to kick-start your heart. The number one excuse of exercisers is time, or lack thereof. If you want to adhere to your plan, you must physically write one down first. Be honest and realistic with the time you have to dedicate to fitness.

Look over your calendar at the start of each month and fill in exercise time slots in the same way you would secure space for a night out with friends or studying for an exam. Start with small segments of time such as  one to two days each week and build your hours once you accomplish a solid month of adherence.

Ease into exercise. If you can afford to join a gym, are comfortable in a gym setting, and know that getting to the gym won't be an obstacle, then you should consider becoming a member. Having the assistance and expertise of a personal trainer is helpful for ensuring exercise safety and adhering to a program. Don't be afraid to explore and experiment with different trainers until you find the one who fits your needs the best.

That being said, if joining a gym is unrealistic or out of your budget, create your own personalized fitness center at home. You don't need big, bulky equipment to get the job done, just a few staple pieces. Every exerciser should have a mat, foam roller and two sets of free weights (one heavy and one lighter).

Choosing your weights will depend on the muscle groups you are looking to strengthen. Bigger groups such as the chest, back and biceps require a heavier weight, while smaller muscle groups such as triceps and shoulders necessitate smaller weights. The amount of reps will also affect which weights you will use, so it is best to go with two options to start, such as a set of 12.5-pound and 5-pound weights.

Foam Rolling 101.

What it does: Foam rolling is a self-massage technique that involves applying gentle pressure to the muscles and fascia, the fibrous tissue that surrounds the muscle. This is important for breaking down knots and tightness in your body, increasing circulation, and improving your recovery time post-workout.

How to use it: The foam roller should be implemented into your pre-workout stretch each time you exercise. While your roller can be used virtually anywhere on the body, a popular area to target is tight hips, knees and butt. Here's how:

  • Begin by lying on your left side with the foam roller placed beneath the hip joint.

  • Cross the right leg over the left, forming a figure-4 position. Keep the right foot and both hands firmly planted on the floor for support and balance.

  • Keep your right foot grounded and let it guide the foam roller slowly down the lateral portion of your leg, stopping above the knee joint. Continue to roll the cylinder back and forth, pressing the foam roller into your muscles, and pausing at any sore spots. Roll for as long as you need to feel a release, then switch sides.

Ashley B. Greenblatt is a certified personal trainer and wellness coach. To learn more, visit ashleyblakefitness.com.