Dr. Wallace: I’ve finally decided to prioritize my health and exercise consistently. I want to get into really good shape and make impressive progress, so I’ve committed to going to the gym every day for an hour each day.

The problem is that I usually end up going to the gym only three to four days in a row before missing a day and breaking my streak. This really frustrates me. How can I motivate myself to go to the gym every day and build up a routine I follow without exception? — Urgently Seeking Fitness, via email

Urgently Seeking Fitness: First, I’d say you’re setting the bar too high to expect you’ll be in the gym every single day! Setting extremely high expectations for ourselves is one of the worst things we can do when trying to build a new habit. The reason for this is exactly what you have described experiencing: Ultimately your expectations become unsustainable and so you inevitably fall short and experience frustration.

My recommendation is that you start with much smaller goals. Perhaps commit to going to the gym three days a week and see if you can maintain that habit for a few weeks in a row. If you are able to do so, then you can consider increasing your commitment to going to the gym four days a week, etc. The point is to initially establish stability and momentum, and then gradually build upon that momentum over time.

Another piece of advice I have for you is to consider going to the gym no more than five days a week. If you are using your time at the gym effectively and pushing yourself hard, your body will need at least two days a week to recover from your workouts. Many people forget that making time for recovery is just as important as making time for exercise. Not only will taking a couple of rest days per week make your gym commitment easier to uphold, but I believe it will also have greater health benefits for you as well.

MY MOM CHEATED ON MY DAD!

DR. WALLACE: I’m 14 years old and an only child, and I recently learned that my mom and dad are likely to get a divorce soon.

I just confirmed with my mom that she cheated on my dad, and she does not seem too worried about it, but it has left me devastated.

My dad already knew somehow that mom was cheating, so he now seems to be working towards what type of divorce he wants. Neither of my parents is very happy, and I’m quite unhappy as well. Will I be able to choose which parent I’ll live with after their divorce becomes final? — Sad Only Child, via email

SAD ONLY CHILD: A judge will make the final decision as to who you will live with, but you will absolutely have some very important input.

A 14-year-old is able to go in front of a judge and state his or her feelings plus the reasons he or she wishes to live with one parent or the other. The judge will listen to your opinion about who you want to live with, take into consideration similar testimony from each of your parents and ultimately make the final decision.

Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at rwallace@thegreatestgift.com. To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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