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6 Week Shape Up Plan

6 Week Shape Up Plan
By Kelli Calabrese MS, CSCS, ACE

Whether you're a beginner or an avid exerciser, the following six-week program will help you reinvent your fitness commitment -- and yourself. It only takes 21 days to create a new habit, so if you follow this plan for 42 days you may double your chance for success. Sticking to an exercise program permanently is going to take planning, preparation and action, but the results are guaranteed.

Week 1
Plan -- Take the time to establish your physical goals for the next two months. What, specifically, do you want to accomplish? What actions will you take to get there? Are your expectations realistic? How will you measure your progress?

Prepare -- Begin a new journal and write out your plan in detail. Include a list of where you expect to be from a physical fitness standpoint in six weeks if you begin your exercise program now, and where you will be in six weeks if you don't. Incorporate motivational pictures and quotes. Review your goals often. Setting the foundation for a solid plan will significantly contribute to your success.

Take Action -- Beginners, initiate drinking more water and taking short walks most days this week. Intermediates should strive to do some cardiovascular exercises most days this week within your target heart zone. Advanced exercisers 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, establish a starting point for your exercise prescription and formulate a comparison for improvement several months down the road.

Prepare -- Inform the technician of any important information regarding your health status. Fill out any necessary paperwork and get medical clearance to exercise, if needed. Wear proper clothing for the evaluation. The objective of your fitness program is to reap the most benefits with the least amount of risk.

Take Action -- Beginners increase your cardiovascular sessions by 5 minutes, intermediates increase by 10 minutes and advanced exercisers do 15+ additional minutes of cardio most days this week.

Week 3
Plan -- Clear your calendar by doing whatever it takes to ensure there are no obstacles in your path toward making time for fitness. Identify whatever reasons and/or excuses you think may arise and plan to conquer them now.

Prepare -- Gather any equipment and tools necessary to successfully carry out your plan. This may mean purchasing a new pair of sneakers, heart rate monitor or videotape, dusting off the home equipment, renewing your gym membership, enlisting a workout buddy, or getting a sitter for the kids. Inform those who are significant to you about your objectives and enlist their support.

Take Action -- Beginners introduce strength training two days this week. Intermediates change your strength training routine and advanced exercisers increase your level of resistance.

Week 4
Plan -- Design an exercise adventure. This can be as simple or extravagant as you wish. There are options for every budget and level of fitness. Some ideas may include trekking the Canadian Rockies, attending a sports camp, heading to a fitness resort with a spa, participating in a 5K run for the first time, or hitting the ski slopes.

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. Keep a detailed log of your efforts in your journal that you can reference for needed adjustments to your training.

Take Action -- Participate in activities that are going to move you closer to completing your exercise adventure. For example, if you're mountain biking along a scenic trail in your area, 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! Your perception of the personal benefits your fitness program will provide can make the difference between your efforts dwindling by week five, or the start of both seeing and feeling momentous physical and emotional results.

Prepare -- Take one exercise session at a time and focus on the natural endorphins rushing through your body and/or how accomplished you feel for staying the course.

Take Action -- Have rewards ready. They can be as small as savoring your favorite healthy beverage, earning a long, hot bath after a workout or treating yourself to a new music CD, heart rate monitor or pair of sneakers upon reaching a milestone in your training.

Week 6
Plan -- Look for a physical event to participate in. This can be a fund-raiser that is near and dear to your heart, or a community effort that you would like to support. Having a precise goal in the near future will help keep you inspired to continue training.

Prepare -- Give yourself at least eight weeks to train for the event. Gradually increase your activities to match those necessary for the event. Enlist a buddy or sponsors in helping you prepare for your cause.

Action -- Begin interval training. Adding this dimension to your training will bring your fitness to a new level and surely keep you off of a plateau.

Only you hold the greatest power to design your life. You have a choice each morning to break through any limitations and obstacles, and be open to life's possibilities. Being physically fit will help you balance other areas in your life. It's your mind, body and spirit. Enjoy the journey and make fitness fun.

Kelli Calabrese MS, CSCS, 2004 Personal Trainer of the Year - Online Training. Kelli is a 20 year fitness industry leader. She has 3 fitness related degrees and 24 Fitness, Nutrition and Lifestyle related certifications. Kelli is the former Lead Fitness Expert for eDiets and eFitness and remains a regular contributor. Kelli is the author of Feminine, Firm & Fit - Building A Lean Strong Body in 12 Weeks She has transformed thousands of bodies just like yours. She is available for phone coaching, online training, grocery shopping tours, seminars, and media opportunities. For more information go to
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