A new year, a new chance to get obsessive about your fitness.
And we mean that in the most positive way. A daily dose of physical activity can help you stay healthy and happy in 2011.
With a little determination, you can even turn that day-to-day exercise session into a fitness streak that lasts a few months, a few years or even a few decades.
We've rounded up some Austin athletes who have done just that, blazing streaks that spanned 2010 and beyond.
We hope they'll inspire you to stick to your own fitness goals in the coming year.
Sara Culler, 32, yoga
For 90 minutes a day, Sara Culler sweats her way through 26 yoga poses and two breathing exercises in a humid room heated to between 102 and 105 degrees.
This is no relaxing stretch session. Bikram yoga is a rigorous form of exercise that Culler says strengthens her body and helps clear her mind, and she's got the muscles to prove it.
Culler moved to Austin from Sweden in 2009. A musician, cancer survivor and former dancer, she started practicing yoga while rehabilitating after a bicycling accident.
She practices at Pure Bikram Yoga, where a challenge was issued last year, encouraging students to do yoga for 60 days in a row. (The studio started another challenge Jan. 1)
Culler went for it — and then some.
"I was intrigued by the journey of doing a challenge," Culler says. "I wanted to see how my body reacted doing 100 days of consecutive yoga. When I reached 100 days, I didn't feel like stopping."
The hardest part of her commitment? Not deciding whether to go to class, but getting to that spot outside her body where her mind goes blank and she's moving seamlessly through a series of physically demanding motions.
"You've got to train your mind and your body is strong enough to follow," she says. "It's amazing to see what you can do."
Although she does the same motions during each class, she says it never gets repetitive. "They're never the same postures, because you're never the same person," she says.
Culler started her daily streak Dec. 25, 2009, and has no plans to stop anytime soon.
"It makes you think clearer, it helps you sort things out."
Keith Bell, 62, swimming
Bell, a swim coach for TeamTexas adult swim program, hasn't missed a day of swimming since sometime in the 1980s.
"I didn't really intend to start a streak, but I was swimming with a team a lot and we never practiced on Sundays," he says. He started going on his own to Deep Eddy or Barton Springs Pool on the off days. "I noticed if I missed Sunday, then Monday felt hard. I didn't feel my stroke as well."
A daily swim became a part of his routine.
"Pretty soon, days turned into years," he says. "Somewhere along the line I caught myself thinking about it."
Bell knows practically every pool in town, and when floods or ice or hail close down his usual haunts, he can still find swimmable water.
One frigid day he swam 4 miles in the little pool at a downtown hotel. Another time he logged his daily workout in an endless current pool at a local triathlon shop.
Illness has never derailed his streak, either. "I think partly because I swim so much I don't get sick very often," he says. "There have been times where it's been tough, but I always know once I get in I'm going to feel better."
He's scheduled swims around minor surgeries and international travel, and even made a dip in Barton Springs when the wind chill sunk below zero.
For Bell, though, it's not about numbers. It's that he loves to swim.
"I don't really feel attached to the streak," he says. "It's about being alive for me. It's just part of the day and part of who I am and staying healthy. I think exercise is so important, and if you don't do it, one day leads to two, leads to 12 and so on."
Usually, he swims at Deep Eddy, Barton Springs or Lake Travis. If he doesn't show up, the lifeguards notice.
"I think of it like I do about eating — my body needs it," he says. "I don't ever remember a day that I wasn't glad I swam."
What about that inevitable day, sometime in the distant future, when he will miss his daily swim?
"Well," he says, after a long, calculated pause. "I'll be dead."
John Conley, 53, running
A former high school and college track athlete, John Conley has been running competitively for 40 years.
As executive director of the LiveStrong Austin Marathon & Half Marathon, he's made a career out of the sport, too. But it wasn't until 2010 that running became a can't-miss part of his daily routine.
Conley became what he calls an "accidental streaker" soon after the pavement cleared from the 2009 Austin Marathon. He dropped 23 pounds and found a new focus.
A hectic travel schedule has made for some interesting challenges. He's had to pay attention while zipping across time zones, lest he run twice during the same day. He packed running shoes in his carry-on in case a flight got canceled and he had to run directly from the airport. Flying back from Germany, he headed straight from the airport to the Austin High track to get in his run before the clock struck midnight.
The first 30 days were relatively easy, he says, but the daily run got harder as the streak progressed and injuries flared up. It also became more psychologically difficult.
"I wasn't training for anything. I think if you have a goal it becomes whole lot easier," he says.
A knee injury forced him to miss a day. He restarted, but 115 days later his injury flared up again, forcing him to take another break. He says the streak has taught him the value of rest.
But Conley is determined. In 2011, he plans to run 365 consecutive days.
"It's a day-to-day obsessive-compulsive streak that's tougher than I thought, but also nearly impossible to end ... even though I wanted to bail out on Saturday after coming back from Hawaii completely jet-lagged and stiff and slightly dehydrated," Conley said in the midst of his 115-day streak. "I still staggered around the Austin High School track getting in my 3 miles in 30 minutes or so."
He's already plotting how he'll get his run in on Feb. 20, the date of the LiveStrong Austin Marathon. It'll probably involve getting up soon after midnight and running before anybody shows up on the course.
Why do it? "To see if I can. At my age and this many years of running, I don't consider myself washed up, but I don't have any competitive goals. I have to set my own goals, goals that don't matter to anyone other than me."