Ask Stew: Can You Help Me Lose Weight and Get Fit?

U.S. Army Reserve Sgt. Chase Lawrence runs his final lap during an APFT (Photo By: Jermaine Jackson).
U.S. Army Reserve Sgt. Chase Lawrence runs his final lap during an APFT (Photo By: Jermaine Jackson).

Life has a way of flying by us. When we are focused on work, family, kid's activities and a hectic daily schedule, it can be easy to neglect our health, wellness and physical abilities. Here is a series of email questions from a young dad who needs to build habits that work in an overall plan of fitness, weight loss and performance.

Stew - I am writing to see if you would have any advice that can help me get to the goals I have set for myself. My job keeps me in the car about five to six hours a day. My individual comments are below. Hopefully you have time to address them? Thanks for your time -- Mark

I have two bad shoulders and find push-ups and even swimming tough.

Mark - Try the Lightweight shoulder workout to help you with your shoulders. You may have to get creative with exercises if some of the basics hurt you. Consider other cardio activities by adding more walking and other non-impact cardio like bike, elliptical and rowing.

These exercises can be especially helpful if you're battling added weight as you get started. Walking will eventually be less painful as you lose weight and you can even progress into running over time. If you like swimming, you can still get in the pool and tread water. Swim with fins to work the legs more. You can even just kick yourself across the pool without arms by using the turtleback or the lead arm trail arm method.

Aso consider the following options for hurting shoulders:

Push-ups - Try knee push-ups or a light weight chest press machine. The TRX chest press is another option. You can also try some movements straight out of physical therapy by using rubber bands for both the push-up and the opposite movement (which is a row). You can also try TRX rows or dumbbells.

Check out the PT Reset as you may need some opposite movements besides the push-up, especially if you've been doing too many pushups in your training. Try Reverse Push-ups, Birds or Arm Haulers.

Keep moving and work around aches and pains. Make sure you thoroughly develop potentially neglected areas as muscle imbalances around the joint could be the root of your problem in the first place.

Remember the rules:

  1. If it hurts to do something, stop and try something else.
  2. If it hurts when you're just moving the joint, do not try adding weight.
  3. If it hurts when you're doing nothing, it's time to go see a doctor.

I am overweight and looking to get in better shape aerobically, but also lose weight and be leaner with more energy for my kids. To this day I still haven't managed to do a correct pull-up!

This is typically a function of building pulling strength but also losing weight. Check out the beginner fitness article plan for starters. There is a 45-day plan and an eating program called the Lean Down Plan. Both are free, and a combination of the two can be a great starting point for you to build better habits and start seeing results quickly.

Being on the road is tough. If you can avoid eating fast food and pack your own healthy snacks and water, you will help yourself with some of the weight gain issues that typically occur if you're traveling during meal time.

Being a healthy role model can spur the same good habits in your spouse and kids, especially when they can equate hard work and determination with success, fulfillment and good health.

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. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to

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