6 Weeks to A Fitter More Fabulous You
by: Kelli Calabrese

Give someone a series of exercises and they have a workout. Teach them positive exercise habits and they will enjoy a lifetime of fitness.'

These are my sentiments about my life's work. I could give you precise exercises to follow for the next 6 weeks, but if you aren't mentally prepared to start a fitness program and you're not ready to change certain key habits in a positive way, you won't get optimum results at least not in the long term.
 
Whether you're a beginning exerciser, a holiday dropout or an avid fitness enthusiast, the following 6-week program will help to reinvent your fitness commitment--and yourself. It only takes 21 days to create a new habit, so following this plan for the next 42 days will likely double your chances for success.

Taking the first 6 weeks of 2004 to build a strong foundation of solid exercise habits will guarantee that you will be walking around in a different body well before you ring in 2005. Follow these steps to plan, prepare and take action towards the body and health you desire.

Week 1
Plan: ' Take the time to establish your physical goals for the next six weeks. What, specifically, do you want to accomplish? What actions need to be taken? Are your expectations realistic? How will you measure your progress? What negative habits need to be addressed?
 
Prepare: Begin a new journal this week. Write out your goals and a detailed plan for accomplishing them. Describe what physical shape you expect to by in 3 months from now if you begin your exercise program today, as well as where you will be in 3 months if you don't. Incorporate motivational pictures and quotes. Review your goals often. Write down which days you will perform cardiovascular and strength training. Journaling will significantly contribute to your success by keeping you on track with your program and by encouraging you to be honest with yourself.

Take Action: *If you're a beginner, start drinking more water and begin taking short walks most days this week. **Intermediate exercisers should strive for at least 20 minutes of cardiovascular exercise most days this week within their target heart zone. ***Advanced exercisers should choose a new cardiovascular activity to try.

Week 2
Plan: Schedule a fitness assessment with a certified fitness professional. This will give you a baseline for your current level of fitness. It will also establish a starting point for your exercise prescription so you will have a basis for comparison several months from now when it's time to evaluate your results.

Prepare: Tell the trainer about any important information regarding your health status. Fill out any necessary paperwork and get medical clearance to exercise, if needed. Ask about any pre evaluation instructions like not eating 2 hours prior and wearing sneakers.
 
Take Action: ' Beginners should introduce two days of strength training this week. Intermediate exercisers should increase the amount of weight or level of resistance they are using. Advanced exercisers should introduce some variety by changing their strength training routine.
 
Week 3
Plan: Record your workout appointments in your journal one month in advance. This will help ensure that fitness remains a priority. If for some reason you have a conflict and need to reschedule a fitness session do so immediately. Planning your sessions in advance will help you overcome scheduling obstacles.
 
Prepare: ' Gather any equipment or tools you need to perform your workout correctly. This may mean purchasing a new pair of sneakers, a heart rate monitor or a videotape. Or it could call for dusting off the home exercise equipment you haven't used in a year, renewing your gym membership, enlisting a workout buddy, or finding a sitter to watch the kids while you work out. Tell the significant people in your life about your objectives and ask for their support.
 
Take Action ' Beginners should increase their cardiovascular sessions by 5 minutes, intermediate exercisers by 7 minutes and advanced exercisers by 10 or more minutes most days this week.

Week 4
Plan: Plan an exercise adventure. This can be as simple or extravagant as you wish. There are options for every budget and level of fitness. Some possibilities include trekking in the mountains, attending a sports camp, heading to a fitness resort or spa, participating in a 5K run for the first time or hitting the ski slopes. The anticipation alone will have a big impact in keeping your exercise sessions on track.

Prepare: - Choose an activity that you will enjoy, but one that is currently beyond your current level of fitness. Investigate what is physically necessary for you to participate in the activity and sign up to participate in that event or activity at some point in the not-too-distant future. Plan your training schedule working backwards from that date. Now start working to prepare yourself. Keep a detailed log of your efforts in your journal so that you can see how you are progressing and adjust your training if necessary. If you need help with planning your workouts, please e-mail me at Kelli@Kellicalabrese.com
 
Take Action: Begin to participate in physical activities that are going to move you closer to your exercise adventure. For example, if your adventure is to mountain bike along a scenic trail, begin logging some hours in the saddle of a stationary bike or sign up for an indoor cycling class.
 
Week 5
Plan: Believe and you shall succeed! By week five, your perception of your fitness level and program will make the difference between dwindling efforts or momentous physical and emotional results. Incorporate some mental conditioning into your routine.

Prepare: Visualize how you want to look and feel. Visualize how your body will move when you exercise. Get down to the details of how you will breath, what your energy level will be like. Imagine the power in your legs, the efficiency of your heart and lungs, the natural endorphins rushing through your body and the sense of accomplishment you will feel by staying the course.

Take Action: Have rewards ready whenever you reach a milestone in your training. They can be as small as savoring a healthy meal at your favorite restaurant, taking a hot bath after a workout or treating your self to a new music tape, heart rate monitor or workout gear.

Week 6
Plan: Focus on a balanced plan. Up until now you should have been incorporating cardiovascular and strength conditioning. This week include flexibility training for a more comprehensive plan.

Prepare: If you are not familiar with stretching exercises, consider a beginner yoga class or videotape. Allow for 10 minutes at the end of each exercise session to engage in total body stretching. It will leave you feeling renewed, with improved posture and a sense of well being.

Action: Use your stretching time to clear your mind and heighten your body awareness. Breathe deeply and naturally, allowing your body to completely relax.
You hold the greatest power to change your body. It's never too late to positively or negatively affect your body through the choices you make. Each morning you have the option to break through any limitations and obstacles, and be open to life's possibilities.

Being physically fit will also help you maintain better balance in other areas in your life. You will notice that when you are exercising regularly, you will naturally begin to make healthier selections, manage stress better and potentially reduce chronic aching muscle pain.
 
I sincerely hope you use the tools offered to you in this 6 week plan. Taking small steps each week will ultimately lead to a lifetime of good habits and move you closer to the body you desire.

* Beginners ' non or irregular exercisers ** Intermediate ' exercising regularly for 6 months to a year. *** Advanced ' Exercising intensely for over a year.

About The Author
Kelli Calabrese MS, CSCS, 2004 Personal Trainer of the Year, Editor Personal Fitness Professional Magazine, Editor of Wellness and Fitness Entrepreneur Magazine, Board of Directors for the Personal Trainer Business Alliance, Lead Exercise Physiologist National Exercise Sports Trainers Association, Former Lead Fitness Expert for eDiets and eFitness. Kelli has 3 science degrees in the areas of Cardiac Rehabilitation, Exercise Physiology and Biology. She has attained over 20 Fitness and Nutrition Certifications. She is the author of Feminine, Firm & Fit and co-author of The Power of Champions. Kelli is available for seminars, personal training, online training and phone coaching, grocery shopping tours. For more information about Kelli please visit KelliCalabrese.com or call toll free 888-871-5900.

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