Sherri McMillan's eight-week fitness program

Week one of the New Year, new you series

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New Year, new you: Week one

Over the next eight weeks, Sherri McMillan, owner of Northwest Personal Training, is going to provide a fitness program each Monday to help Columbian readers achieve their health and fitness goals and compliment whatever else readers may or may not be doing. This workout can be done anywhere. You will need hand weights, an exercise tube and a bench (all of which can be purchased inexpensively at your local department or sports store). Each week will include cardiovascular and muscle conditioning segments, a stretch and a nutrition and lifestyle tip. Visit <a href="http://www.columbian.com/livewell">Live Well </a> each Monday for the full

Here we go again. On Jan. 1, many of us resolved to make some major changes in our lives. Maybe we decided to start an exercise program, stop eating junk food or lose a substantial amount of weight. Perhaps you invested in a gym membership or personal trainer, started an at-home exercise program or purchased P90X to get you started and help you meet your resolutions of looking and feeling better this year.

Well, consider me your own personal coach overseeing your entire program. Over the next eight weeks, I am going to provide you with a fitness program to help you achieve your health and fitness goals and compliment whatever else you may or may not be doing.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column about some critical steps to take to ensure you reach your goals this year. The time you spend understanding these key concepts will really help to ensure not only that you start a health and fitness program but that you also stick to it long enough to actually achieve results. Remember, it’s not what you do in January that matters, it’s what you do all year long!

You can do this workout anywhere and it will definitely transform your body. You will need hand weights, an exercise tube and a bench (all which can be purchased inexpensively at your local department or sports store). Each week will include cardiovascular and muscle conditioning segments, a stretch and a nutrition and lifestyle tip.

Cardiovascular conditioning: Perform an aerobic activity like jogging, power walking, cycling, swimming, stair climbing or fitness classes 3-5x each week for 20-60 minutes each session. In the beginning just focus on consistency. Don’t worry about intensity – go at a pace that feels right for you.

Muscle Conditioning:

Perform 1 set of each exercise 2-3x this week on alternating days. Each repetition should be slow (5 seconds per repetition) and controlled. Intermediate exercises can complete two sets and advanced can go for three sets.

Lower Body – Step Ups: Place one foot on a short bench or step. Begin by slowly stepping up onto the bench. Concentrate on pushing from the leg that’s on the step, standing tall, and keeping abdominals contracted throughout the entire exercise. Control the lowering portion so that only your toes lightly touch the floor. Repeat on both sides for 8-20 reps.

photoWrap an exercise tube around a pole at about shoulder height. You can also perform this exercise in the weight room on a pulley using a heavier resistance or try one arm at a time.
photoHolding handles, perform rows to strengthen your back. Keep your shoulders square to the pole and pull your elbow back as far as you comfortably can. Squeeze your shoulder blades into the middle of your back. Perform 8-20 repetitions. You can also try one arm at a time.

Upper Body –Mid Row – Wrap an exercise tube around a pole at about shoulder height. Holding handles, perform rows to strengthen your back. Keep your shoulders square to the pole and pull your elbow back as far as you comfortably can. Squeeze your shoulder blades into the middle of your back. Perform 8-20 repetitions. You can also perform this exercise in the weight room on a pulley using a heavier resistance or try one arm at a time.

Torso –Leg lifts - Lay on your back with your legs bent and feet flat on the floor. Put your hands on your abdominals and pull them in and up so your stomach becomes as flat as you can get it. Keep your stomach in this position throughout the entire exercise as you slowly lift one foot a few inches off the floor. Your back should not move at all during the exercise. To intensify the movement, straighten your legs. Perform 5-10 reps each leg.

High-intensity interval – Lateral agility drill - Position 2 cones or props a few feet apart. Now quickly step laterally to the outside of one cone and back to the outside of the other touching down toward the floor on each end. Try to go as fast as you possibly can. Continue for 30-60 seconds.

Flexibility:Perform the following stretch after each of your workouts.

Hamstring stretch - Lay on your back with your hips close to the wall and your legs positioned straight up against the wall. To make the stretch less intense, move your hips a few inches away from the wall. To make the stretch more intense, keep your hips positioned right up against the wall and wrap a towel around your feet and lightly pull your legs a few inches away from the wall. Hold this stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds. Hold for at least 30 seconds.

Nutrition: One of the most important things you can do to improve your health and help lose weight is focus on your water intake. Over the next eight weeks, I want you to get in the habit of drinking at least 10 eight-ounce glasses of water each day. Purchase a water bottle, and have it with you every where you go. You may find yourself running to the washroom more but this sensation will subside in a few weeks.

Other helpful strategies: Purchase an 8.5 x 11 notebook that you’ll start using today as your activity and nutrition log. Record in it daily how much you exercise and what and how much you eat. Many studies have shown just the act of recording this information instantly results in better habits.

photoSherri McMillan, owner of Northwest Personal Training.

Sherri McMillan, M.Sc. is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver. She can be reached at www.nwPersonalTraining.com or www.ShapeupwithSherri.com.