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Four Weeks to Fitness
Week 1

Stop Making Excuses
Stop Making Excuses

I love reading fitness articles; they always make things look so easy. Most are written by some genetically gifted skinny person who gives you a list of things to do that they PROMISE will help you get in shape. There are suggestions like, "eliminate wheat, eat celery and drink grapefruit juice to look JUST LIKE ME." Then they'll encourage you to buy their latest "Wheat Free, Celery and Grapefruit Diet" book.

If that's all there was to it, then everybody would be doing it and there wouldn't be a need for columns like this.

But it's not that easy. If you're a 119-pound vegan who likes to run, you'll have very different needs than a 240-pound secretary that enjoys grilling meat.

So instead of the usual, "eat this, exercise that" advice, I'm going to share with you the things healthy people do REGARDLESS of their fitness goals. Just take one step each day. They don't cost a lot of money (most are free) and you can start doing them today. Ready to change your life?

Day One - Stop Making Excuses 

Everybody has the capacity to get in shape. Everybody. You just have to stop making excuses. A friend of mine once said, "anything after BUT is bull****." It's an easy trap to fall into. I'd LIKE to lose weight BUT... I'd LIKE to get in shape BUT... See the problem? Concentrate on and expand the things you CAN do and quit making excuses for the rest.

Day Two - Start Writing It Down

It starts with a calendar and a pen. But don't get hung up on the calendar part. You can use a day planner, an electronic organizer, your computer or a cell phone. Choose a day at the beginning of each month and designate it as your "Goal Day." Now put it on the Calendar in big letters. Once a month you're going to take a realistic look at yourself and write down your goals for the month. Don't get too caught up on long-term plans. Concentrate on the things you're going to achieve for the next 30 days.

After you've written your goals down on the calendar, write them on two pieces of paper as well. Stick the first piece of paper on your refrigerator so you have to look at it every day. Carry the second one in your purse or wallet so that every time you reach for money you'll see that list of goals. Keep those goals in front of you and you'll be less likely to ignore them.

Day Three - Get a Partner

Grab a friend and decide to do this together. According to the University of Pittsburgh, individuals who enrolled in a clinical weight-loss program with family or friends were 19 percent more likely to complete the program, they lost more weight and were three times more likely to keep their weight off than those who enrolled alone. Use your friends and family for support.

Day Four - Start Eating Like a Fit Person

When you get up, first thing in the morning, EAT SOMETHING. Your body has been fasting all night and it needs nutrients to rebuild. Think of breakfast as an alarm clock for your metabolism. The food is telling your body to wake up and get to work. If you decide not to eat your body will turn to burning muscle for energy while hanging onto the fat. When lunchtime comes around you'll be so hungry it's likely you'll eat more food than if you had taken breakfast earlier.

Set your watch/daytimer/computer/phone to go off every 3 hours. Now whenever the alarm goes off, eat something. Do that all day long. Whenever you eat, your metabolism gets a boost. So if you're eating 5-7 meals a day, you get 5-7 small metabolic boosts to help you burn fat. By taking in snacks throughout the day you also avoid that "starved" feeling that can lead to binges and overeating later on.

How much should you eat?

Figure it out by estimating how fast (or slow) your metabolism is working!

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

12/31/2006