Nicki Anderson writes her last fitness column for The Sun

Editor’s note: Columnist Nicki Anderson has been writing a fitness column for The Naperville Sun since 2004. Last week she was named the president and CEO of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Although I’m not a resolution person, I do believe that the new year brings renewal. A time to brush off last year’s mistakes, forgive yourself for failed resolutions, and move ahead with new energy and enthusiasm. There is nothing like a new year to set the stage for positive change, and this year is no exception.

It is with mixed feelings that I announce this column will be my last. I have been given the distinct honor to serve as the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce president and CEO.

So what does a fitness writer and business advocate have in common? More than you might realize.

As many of you know, I owned and operated Reality Fitness for close to 20 years. During my time as the CEO of that business, I spent each day managing staff, creating programming, marketing, sales, customer relations, and the most critical piece, inspiring others to realize their potential and seize it. I also traveled all over the world educating entrepreneurs on the finer nuances of business.

The more I lectured and ran my business, the more I realized the parallels between fitness and business. Here are some examples:

1. It takes hard work. I always used to tell my clients that there is a direct correlation between the work you put forth and the results you get. So the question becomes: how hard are you willing to work to reach the goals you’ve set forth?

2. No one can do it for you. Just as people seek to find the weight-loss “miracle” programs, business people do the same. However, there is no miracle; it’s just you and your dream. It’s entirely up to you to figure out how you’re going to make it happen. Whether it is weight loss or taking a business to the next level, you must have a solid plan so you know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. Without one, it’s a dead end. That’s why No. 3 is so important.

3. Set smart goals. Specific. Measurable. Agreed upon. Realistic. Time-based. The surest way to success for any endeavor.

4. Be realistic about the outcome. All too often people begin a new venture with ideas of immediate success. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming, but there’s a lot wrong with not realizing the reality of what you must do to achieve your goals. (See No. 1.)

5. Be patient with the process. Nothing worthwhile happens overnight. It took me a year to lose 50 pounds, and it took me three years to get my business going and make a profit. Slow and steady is your best bet.

6. Seek out support. No (wo) man is an island. There are plenty of solid resources out there. I had fantastic business mentors when I opened my business and was never shy about asking for help. Whatever your goal, seek out a mentor, ask a lot of questions, and find those who support you and are willing to disagree with you. Never surround yourself with people who won’t tell you the truth. No greater gift than constructive criticism. However, distance yourself from chronic negativity as that is the surest way to defeat.

7. Be passionate. To realize any goal, you have to be passionate. I used to tell my clients to find an exercise they enjoy; otherwise, it will never last. Same with business. If you are just pursuing something for monetary gain, it will be short lived. Life is too short to ignore your passion.

8. Legislation matters. In the fitness industry, I served on committees that dealt with legislative issues in the fitness world. Businesses of all sizes need to pay attention to legislation and how it can positively or negatively affect your business. The more you know, the more you grow.

It has been nothing short of an honor to write my columns each week with the intention of inspiring you to value and care for your health. My editor, Heather Pfundstein, is probably one of the best editors ever, and it has been a privilege to work with her.

I won’t be going far; my new office is in the Main Street Promenade.

I have spent more than 25 years inspiring others to be their best, and now I get to channel that energy into the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce and its members. Thanks to all of you for your loyalty and letters of support over the years.

Here’s to an amazing 2014!