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Your Fitness Plan - 5 Steps to Better Health

Working in a gym for several hours every day gives me an interesting perspective on how people approach fitness. Some people come in and only use cardio equipment; others strictly weights, and some walk by all the equipment and head straight for the sauna in an attempt to sweat the fat off. Each one is confident they'll succeed, spending days, weeks and months in pursuit of...something. Unfortunately, most of these people don't have the single most critical thing required for success—a plan.

If you want to get in shape, you need a realistic plan to take you from the place you're at to the place you want to be. Of course, you could keep doing what you've always done, but ask yourself this question. Is doing the same thing getting you results?

Probably not. So today I'm going to give you a plan. Follow these five steps, and you'll be on your way to better health. As you complete each step, check it off and move on to the next one.

Step One

Evaluate and document your current level of physical fitness. How much do you weigh? What is the ideal weight for someone your age/sex/height? How much body fat do you have on you? How much body fat is healthy for someone in your situation? Do you have any physical limitations or restrictions? At a minimum, I suggest you learn the following:

Weight, Body Mass Index (BMI), body fat percentage, resting heart rate, resting metabolic rate and blood pressure. (Click Here to visit our calculators page and evaluate yourself.)

Visit a doctor and get a complete physical. Write down your vital statistics and discuss with your physician which ones you need to improve and by what amounts. Make notes of any limitations your doctor may give you and discuss what healthy changes you can make over the next one, two and three months. Re-check your vital statistics every 90 to 180 days.

Step Two

Write down your goals for the next 30, 60 and 90 days. Post them somewhere you'll see them every day, such as the refrigerator or a bathroom mirror. Carry another copy with you in your pocket or purse. The idea is to remain focused on your goals and have a copy close to help you when temptations arise.

Step Three

Look at your diet. Keep a food log of everything you eat and drink for seven days. Now go through that list and see what items help you achieve your goals and which ones are hurting you. If you aren't sure what to look for, schedule an appointment with a registered, licensed dietitian. I also suggest you try healthier recipes such as those you'll find on my website or in magazines such as Cooking Light, Light & Tasty or Vegetarian Times.

Step Four

Design a fitness program that includes both weight or resistance training and cardio programs. Think about how you can include exercise in your daily activities. If you don't know where to start, look through fitness magazines or hire a certified personal trainer for a couple of sessions to design a program for you. Keep in mind any restrictions your doctor gave you, and always make sure to use proper form with any exercises you do. Don't forget to include days of rest and recuperation in your schedule, so you don't injure yourself or burn out.

Step Five

Re-evaluate your entire program every 6 to 12 weeks. Are you making progress towards your goals? Do you feel better? Look better? If it's working, keep it up. If it isn't, change it. Amazing progress is made all the time, but you have to stick with it...one day at a time.

Now that you've got the plan, when are you going to start? Print out this article; fill in your starting date HERE ________/________/________ and get going!

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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.