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Plan For Success

Posted Dec 17 2009 1:29pm
By Vanessa, The Bookworm
OurHealth Staff Writer

A clear vision, backed by definite plans, gives you a tremendous feeling of confidence and personal power.
- Brian Tracy

(this picture of Coco, Ice T's wife, has nothing to do with this blog. It's just utterly ridiculous and I wanted to share it with someone. Maybe Coco could have planned ahead for some appropriate workout attire/shoes)

I was thinking about Taheerah’s post from yesterday. (Thank you Taheerah for sharing your story. I know a lot of women will be able to relate and will appreciate your honesty.) I was also thinking about my own successes and failures when trying to get and stay fit. The most important thing I think I’ve learned and observed from people who’ve been successful in meeting their goals is you must have a plan.

A lot of people have an idea of what they are going to do to get fit and we all know we have the best intentions, but a lot of times I don’t think we have a clear, workable and realistic plan to achieve our goals. When I first started running, I used the couch to 5k running plan. I never had to wake up in the morning and think about what I should be doing because it was already mapped out for me. I trusted in the process (as Kendria spoke recently) and trusted that if I stuck to the plan laid out before me, I would be able to cross the finish line on race day. And I did. The results were that I lost weight and toned up, but the goal was the race and the work was already laid out in my plan.

Currently, Ywana and I are working as training partners for the OurHealth Project Badunkadunk hiking trip in Arizona. We talked last week about what our plan was going to be. We decided to make a plan at the beginning of each week, work the plan for that week and then re-evaluate our progress and see what we could change or modify going into the next week to achieve maximum success. We are going to make our first team update this weekend, but I think this plan is really going to work for us.

Do you have a plan? Below is a great article with 5 steps to getting started with a fitness program. If you are planning on starting soon, maybe at the 1st of the year, then make sure you have a clear plan laid out and that you’re ready to put it into motion.

Fitness programs: 5 steps to getting started
By Mayo Clinic Staff

Are you thinking about starting a fitness program? Good for you! You're only five steps away from a healthier lifestyle.

Starting a fitness program may be one of the best things you can do for your health. With your doctor's OK to exercise, physical activity can reduce your risk of chronic disease, improve your balance and coordination, help you lose weight — even improve your sleep habits and self-esteem. And there's more good news. You can do it in just five steps.

Step 1: Assess your fitness level

You probably have some idea of how fit you are. But assessing and recording baseline fitness scores can give you benchmarks against which to measure your progress. To assess your aerobic and muscular fitness, flexibility and body composition, consider recording:

  • Your pulse rate before and after a one-mile walk
  • How long it takes to walk one mile
  • How many push-ups you can do at a time
  • How far you can reach forward while seated on the floor with your legs in front of you
  • Your waist circumference at the level of your navel
  • Your body mass index

Step 2: Design your fitness program

It's easy to say that you'll exercise every day. But you'll need a plan. As you design your fitness program, keep these points in mind:

  • Consider your fitness goals. Are you starting a fitness program to help lose weight? Or do you have another motivation, such as preparing for a 5K (kilometer) race? Having clear goals can help you gauge your progress.
  • Most adults should aim for at least 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity — or 150 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity — a week. Adults also need two or more days of strength training a week.
  • Plan a logical progression of activity. If you're just beginning to exercise, start cautiously and progress slowly. If you have an injury or a medical condition, consult your doctor or a physical therapist for help designing a fitness program that gradually improves your range of motion, strength and endurance.
  • Think about how you'll build activity into your daily routine. Finding time to exercise can be a challenge. To make it easier, schedule time to exercise as you would any other appointment. Plan to watch your favorite show while walking on the treadmill, or read while riding a stationary bike.
  • Plan to include different activities. Different activities (cross-training) can keep exercise boredom at bay. Cross-training also reduces your chances of injuring or overusing one specific muscle or joint. Plan to alternate among activities that emphasize different parts of your body, such as walking, swimming and strength training.
  • Allow time for recovery. Many people start exercising with frenzied zeal — working out too long or too intensely — and give up when their muscles and joints become sore or injured. Plan time between sessions for your body to rest and recover.
  • Put it on paper. A written plan may encourage you to stay on track.

Step 3: Assemble your equipment

You'll probably start with athletic shoes. Be sure to pick shoes designed for the activity you have in mind.

If you're planning to invest in exercise equipment, choose something that's practical, enjoyable and easy to use. You may want to try out certain types of equipment at a fitness center before investing in your own equipment. To stretch your exercise dollars, consider buying used equipment. Or get creative. Make your own weights by filling old socks with beans or pennies, or by partially filling a half-gallon milk jug with water or sand and securing the tops with duct tape.

Step 4: Get started

Now you're ready for action. As you begin your fitness program, keep these tips in mind:

  • Start slowly and build up gradually. Give yourself plenty of time to warm up and cool down with easy walking or gentle stretching. Then speed up to a pace you can continue for five to 10 minutes without getting overly tired. As your stamina improves, gradually increase the amount of time you exercise. Work your way up to 30 to 60 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
  • Break things up if you have to. You don't have to do all your exercise at one time. Shorter but more frequent sessions have aerobic benefits, too. Fifteen minutes of exercise a couple of times a day may fit into your schedule better than a single 30-minute session.
  • Be creative. Maybe your workout routine includes various activities, such as walking, bicycling or rowing. But don't stop there. Take a weekend hike with your family or spend an evening ballroom dancing.
  • Listen to your body. If you feel pain, shortness of breath, dizziness or nausea, take a break. You may be pushing yourself too hard.
  • Be flexible. If you're not feeling good, give yourself permission to take a day or two off.

Step 5: Monitor your progress

Retake your personal fitness assessment six weeks after you start your program and then again every three to six months. You may notice that you need to increase the amount of time you exercise in order to continue improving. Or you may be pleasantly surprised to find that you're exercising just the right amount to meet your fitness goals.

If you lose motivation, set new goals or try a new activity. Exercising with a friend or taking a class at a fitness center may help, too.

Starting an exercise program is an important decision. But it doesn't have to be an overwhelming one. By planning carefully and pacing yourself, you can establish a healthy habit that lasts a lifetime.
This group of dedicated Black women are committed to getting healthier, one goal at a time! Our Health challenges women to set ambitious physical goals for a good cause - to inspire our girls, our families, our churches, our communities to get moving! We believe ordinary woman can, and should become the faces of healthy living! Join us! For more information, visit our website at
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