Starting a Fitness Program for Life

by Stew Smith

If you are a true beginner to exercise or have not exercised in decades, starting a health and fitness program is a daunting task. During your quest for longevity, try not to change too much in your life too quickly. Many people, in their search for health make broad resolutions that require several different life style changes. Quitting smoking, starting an exercise program, and dieting all in the same week can be extremely challenging. Tackling any ONE of the above is challenging enough. If you have any of the above vices or others, you may want to try one step at a time rather than trying "cold turkey - and all at once!" Here is a plan that will get you started on the right track for the long term.

Month 1 - Month 4:

Start exercising and drinking water NOW! You may find that you do not have to alter your diet at all as long as you are burning calories by exercise. By drinking anywhere from two quarts to a gallon of water a day and cutting back on soft drinks, you can lose up to 25-50 pounds this year! The type of exercise you need to start doing is walking, biking, some basic calisthenics, and /or swimming for 20-30 minutes 4-5 times a week.

Month 5 - Month 8:

Now you can pick up the physical fitness training a bit by lifting weights or starting a more rigorous calisthenics program. Exercises like pushups, pull-ups, crunches, and squats mixed with more walking or occasional running can boost your fitness level to new heights. If your fitness program is not working for you at this time, you need to take a look at your diet and what you are consuming daily. If you are not losing weight by walking 4-5 times a week and drinking nearly a gallon of water a day, you need to consume fewer calories. This does not mean starve yourself - it simply means eating foods with fewer calories. More nutrients like fruits, vegetables, and lean meats cooked by methods other than frying would be a good start to changing your diet.

Month 9 - Month 12:

By this time, you should feel great about your physical progress and have more energy than you have had in years. Running, biking and swimming several times a week should be habit by now and feel refreshing and stress relieving after each workout. If you have not quit smoking cigarettes by now or at least tapered off, it is time to start trying a little more aggressively. Usually, however, if you have maintained a fitness program this long, quitting smoking has already occurred. But if you have not quit, now is the time to try either the "cold turkey" method or some type of patch method.

So in summary - start exercising now! Do not change your diet too much but with the addition of water and decrease of sugar calories. Try to taper the smoking when you get into the groove of the exercising regularly - do not try all three at once!

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. If you are interested in starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the Military.com Fitness eBook store and the Stew Smith article archive at Military.com. To contact Stew with your comments and questions, e-mail him at stew@stewsmith.com.


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