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Keep It Going

By on March 1, 2008
Stu Smith

After January, the word “resolution” seems to disappear from our vocabulary. By March, most people who made a New Year’s promise to get healthier and more fit are detoured by busy schedules, loss of motivation, or life just getting in the way of starting good habits. On the other hand, a few who started good habits like exercising and eating more healthful diets, or who stopped smoking are now wondering, “What is next? Where do I go from here?”

Fitness and healthy living must be viewed as a journey, not a destination, as the same old routine will get boring and you will lack enthusiasm to continue day after day. And, for those who fell off the wagon a few weeks after the New Year, there is an easy way to get back on the road to healthier living — just take one step at a time.

To get started again with creating a healthy lifestyle, avoid the impulse to change too much, too quickly. Quitting smoking, starting an exercise program, and dieting all in the same week can be extremely challenging. Tackling any one of those lifestyle changes is challenging enough. If you have any other vices, you may want to try one step at a time rather than trying the“cold turkey — and all at once!” method. Here is a 12-month plan that will get you started on the right track for the long term.

I hope these ideas can help you rebuild your determination to get back to exercising as well as help you take it to the next level. Regardless, hang in there and keep trying. If you have any questions, email me at

Phase 1: Moving, Stretching, and Drinking Water

Month 1 – Month 4:

Start moving more 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 movement. By drinking water in place of soft drinks, you can lose up to 25 pounds this year! Start walking, biking and doing basic stretching and calisthenics. For a free 45-Day Basic Starter plan and Lower Back Stretching plan check out the free workout links at These are 10-20 minutes of exercise that can be done anywhere.

Phase 2: Add weights or more calisthenics, start running instead of walking, eat better foods

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 with dumbbells mixed with more walking or occasional running can boost your fitness level to new heights. Walking or running around parking lots, finding a playground with pull-up bars, benches for bench dip, and a running trail in any town is not that difficult and a great way to add variety to your workouts.

At this point if you are not seeing results with your fitness program, you need to take a look at your diet and what you are consuming daily. If you are not losing weight by walking four to five times a week and drinking extra water each day, you need to consume fewer calories. This does not mean starving yourself — it simply means eating foods with fewer calories. More nutrient-filled fruits and vegetables, fewer cookies and chips and more lean meats cooked by methods other than frying would be a good start to changing your diet.

Personal trainer Stew Smith, a former Navy SEAL, is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).

Phase 3: Find a Fitness Challenge

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, walking, biking, or swimming several times a week should be habit by now and feel refreshing and stress relieving after each workout.

Fun Military Standards — “Be Who You Used to Be”

Army 2-minute Pushup Test – For men: build up to 50-70 pushups to pass. Women: build up to 25-30.

Navy 2-minute Crunch Test – Both men and women have to do 50-60 crunches to pass.

Air Force 1.5 mile Run Test – This can be a run/walk combination if needed, but shoot for under 12 minutes for a passing time.

Coast Guard 12-minute Swim Test – If you have access to a pool, this is a distance test of how far you can swim in 12 minutes. Shoot for 500 yards for above average score.

USMC Pull-up Test – Max points are given if you can do 20 pull-ups if you are a Marine, but for most Americans, doing ONE pull-up is an accomplishment.

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