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Healthy Start for Beginners Helping People FIT Fitness into Their Life

See Beginner Workout section at the Fitness eBook Store

During your New Year’s quest for longevity, try not to change too much in your life too quickly. Many people, in their annual search for health make broad resolutions that require several different life style changes. Quitting smoking, starting an exercise program and dieting all in the same week can be extremely challenging.

Tackling any ONE of the above is challenging enough. If you have any of the above vices or others, you may want to try one step at a time rather than trying “cold turkey – and all at once!” Here is a plan that will get you started on the right track.

January – April

Start exercising and drinking water NOW! You may find that you do not have to alter your diet at all as long as you are burning calories by exercise. By drinking anywhere from two quarts to a gallon of water a day and cutting back on soft drinks. You can lose up to 25-50 pounds this year!

– I have proof and living examples –
The type of exercise you need to start doing is either walking, biking or swimming for 20-30 minutes 4-5 times a week. May – September 2001:

Now you can pick up the physical fitness training a bit by lifting weights or starting a good calisthenics program. Exercises like pushups, pull-ups, crunches, and squats mixed with more walking or occasional running can boost your fitness level to new heights.

If your fitness program is not working for you at this time, you need to take a look at your diet and what you are consuming daily. If you are not losing weight by walking 4-5 times a week and drinking nearly a gallon of water a day, you need to consume fewer calories. This does not mean starve yourself – it simply means eating foods with fewer calories. More nutrients like fruits, vegetables, and lean meats cooked by methods other than frying would be a good start to changing your diet.

October – December

By this time, you should feel great about your physical progress and have more energy than you have had in years. Running, biking and swimming several times a week should be habit by now and feel refreshing and stress relieving after each workout. If you have not quit smoking cigarettes by now or at least tapered off, it is time to start trying a little more aggressively. Usually, however, if you have maintained a fitness program this long, quitting has already occurred. But if you have not quit, now is the time to try either the “cold turkey” method or some type of patch method.

So in summary – start exercising now! Do not change your diet too much but with the addition of water and decrease of soda. Try to taper the smoking when you get into the groove of the exercising regularly – do not try all three at once!

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Breathing During Exercise


Stew Smith | January 04, 2007

This week, I received an email from an Army Soldier who was having a difficult time running a few months ago. His breathing patterns were so erratic that he was basically hyperventilating while running his two mile PFT run. Once he started breathing properly as well as exhaling fully, he was able to perform better in the run — not only did he run faster, but he had more energy to finish. The Soldier stated…

“It finally clicked! Not only was I able to breathe and finish while running, but I was able to run faster without getting tired or cramped at all!”

Learning to breathe during exercise has benefits such as preventing dizziness during activity, improving athletic performance, and increasing fat burning.

What is proper breathing while running?
Many experts will say that to fully oxygenate the muscles and clear the body of carbon dioxide you should breathe a 3:2 inhale-to-exhale ratio; full inhales and full exhales. This means you INHALE on the LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT foot strikes and EXHALE fully on the RIGHT, LEFT foot strikes. This pattern is not that hard to turn into a habit, but it may require you to slow your pace down for a few runs to master the technique. You will notice a lower heart rate as you are able to get more oxygen in and more importantly push all the carbon dioxide out of your body. You may notice that you naturally drop to a 2:1 ratio when you are really pushing it to the finish. That is OK.  But realize it is difficult to maintain a pace that requires you to breathe at a 2:1 ratio. The CO2 in your body will increase if your breathing patterns are short and hurried. This will increase your heart rate and lactic acid production, and decrease your endurance in any cardiovascular event (running, swimming, biking, etc.)

What about breathing and do PT or lifting?
Proper breathing during exercises where you exert yourself — such as lifting, pushing, or pulling — is much easier to remember and control than the 3:2 ratio during running long distance. To put it simply: always exhale on exertion. For example, when you are pushing a bench press off your chest, you exhale on the push and inhale as you bring it slowly to your chest. When you are doing a pullup, you exhale on the pulling up motion and inhale on the way down. Breathing during exertion is important in preventing internal injury such as hernia, blood vessel strain, and high blood pressure. Because weight lifting and PT can be potentially harmful when done incorrectly, it is advised to get clearance from a doctor before performing too much – too soon. To decrease that pressure, focus on breathing deep all the time — during workouts and in your daily activities.

How does more oxygen help to burn more fat?
Oxygen + Water = Fat burn.  (from Lose the Weight article)
Basically, the body needs water and increased oxygen to burn fat as an energy source. The water intake should be anywhere from a half gallon for women and up to one gallon a day for men, and the increased oxygen consumption will assist with the other part of the equation.  See this article in my StewSmith.com article archive if you are concerned about drinking “too much water.”

As you add more water and oxygen to your system, your body will be able to use the retained water for excretion, prompting almost immediate weight loss of retained water and toxins. This is not the same as sitting in a sauna and sweating which actually dehydrates you. Adding water will rehydrate you and enable the body to burn more fat (as long as you increase your oxygen intake by doing some form of exercise). Walking, swimming, biking, jogging, calisthenics, and even yard work can help with working your cardiovascular system.

Try the deep breathing rhythm during running and see for yourself how you will run at a lower heart rate and have more energy for a strong finish..

Q&A with Stew Smith Concerning SEAL Training

With regards to meeting the physical requirements to gain entry to BUD/S, I have a few questions you may be able
to answer. MY ANSWERS ARE IN CAPS AMONG YOUR QUESTIONS…STEW SMITH
o       Will someone be standing on my feet while doing sit-ups? YES
o       How long do I rest between sets in your Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness Book? TRY NOT TO REST THAT LONG 
BUT REST AS LONG AS YOU HAVE TO SO YOU RECOVER – IF YOU DO NOT FULLY RECOVER AFTER 1 MINUTE REST
THEN START AGAIN WITH THE NEXT SET ANYWAY
o       Right now I rest for 30 seconds between each set – THAT IS FINE
o       What can I do about hitting a plateau with my pull-ups & pushups? PUSH THRU THEM - HAVE YOU SEEN THE ARTICLES? :
THESE METHODS WORK IN THE ABOVE ARTICLES FOR A FEW TIMES A YEAR WHEN YOU HIT A RUT IN PERFORMANCE –
YOUR BODY RESPONDS TO CHANGING STIMULI (WORKOUTS) BEST SO CHANGE THINGS UP A BIT WHEN YOU HIT A PLATEAU.
o       I've only been making small gains for the past 3 weeks, is this even something I should worry about?  NO – 
AS LONG AS YOU ARE NOT LOSING PROGRESS…THOUGH YOU WILL LOSE SOME PROGRESS IN THE MIDDLE
WEEKS OF THE 12 WEEK WORKOUT AS I AM PUSHING YOU HARDER DURING WEEKS 5-8 THAN ANY OF THE
OTHER WEEKS SO YOU WILL BE BURNED OUT…
o       Do you think Rugby is good practice fore BUD/S?  YES – I PLAYED RUGBY TOO IN COLLEGE FOR 3 YRS – PLUS IT IS 
FUN – TRY NOT TO GET INJURED.  BUT OTHER GREAT SPORTS ARE WRESTLING, BOXING, CREW, SWIMMING, CROSS
COUNTRY AND EVEN FOOTBALL – THOSE ATHLETES TEND TO DO WELL AT BUDS.
o       Each practice, we'll typically do 5 miles of running/sprinting. The downside is that it wears down my shoulders
 quite a bit. Your thoughts? RUNNING IS GREAT BUT YOU SHOULD WATCH YOUR SHOULDERS – TRY TO PROTECT THEM AND
DO THE LIGHTWEIGHT SHOULDER WORKOUT FOR MORE STABILITY.  OF COURSE SWIMMING AND BEING COMFORTABLE 
IN WATER IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT IF YOU WANT TO GO TO BUDS. 
o       Have you heard of the PowerLung? If so, what do you think about it?  HEARD OF IT NEVER USED IT…SOME SAY IT 
HELPED THEM, BUT I HAVE NOT TESTED IT OUT…I AM 39 YRS OLD AND CAN STILL SWIM A 50M UNDERWATER SO I AM
NOT SO SURE YOU NEED IT. 
o       Right now, my biggest obstacle is the 50 yard underwater swim. PRACTICE GLIDING IT OUT AND NOT TRYING TO DO 
TOO MANY STROKES ACROSS THE POOL – I DO IT IN 4 STROKES / KICKS AND ALWAYS WITH A SWIM BUDDY OR LIFE 
GUARD WHO KNOWS YOU ARE ATTEMPTING IT.
§         I can do the flip and swim 25 yards but have not been able to complete the full 50.  KEEP TRYING IT JUST 
TAKES TIME…THE HYPOXIC SWIM WORKOUTS WILL HELP YOU LATER TOO – THEY TEND TO HELP ME WITH INCREASED
SWIM STAMINA.
o       Would you recommend drinking protein shakes or sticking to a diet close to what BUD/S will be like?  PROTEIN 
AFTER WORKOUTS IS FINE – YOU CAN TAKE PROTEIN SHAKES AT BUDS TOO IF YOU WISH…
o       Currently I have a protein shake immediately after my workouts – VERY SMART IDEA - I GET MINE FROM 
o       What would a good weight be for military presses? (practice for log PT) I WOULD DO 20-25 LB DUMBBELLS AS YOU 
WILL BE LIFTING 40-45 LBS OVER YOUR HEAD INDIVIDUALLY AND ABOUT 250-300 AS A TEAM…
o       Things I can do to get ready for BUD/S
o       Showering in colder water? – PERHAPS – MIGHT HELP – SWIMMING IN WATER THAT IS 50-70 DEGREES IS PERFECT AS 
THAT IS AS WARM AND AS COLD AS IT GETS IN CORONADO.  I USED TO BODY SURF ALL THE TIME IN WATER TEMP LIKE
THAT AND IT SEEMED TO HELP.
o       Becoming Scuba Certified? – VERY SMART THING TO DO AS WELL.  IT WILL HELP YOU WITH GETTING USED TO
HAVING A REGULATOR IN YOUR MOUTH AT BUDS.  I HAVE BEEN SCUBA DIVING SINCE 13 YRS OLD…
§         I have a friend at usna who is very, very serious about becoming a SEAL (Naval Tri-athlete, Finished 
Dive School, Trained with an SEAL Team 3 this summer, and completed the "Pre-BUD/S Screener"). His view was that they 
teach you completely different ways of using Scuba gear in civilian life vs. BUD/S and that it may do more harm than good. 
NO – IF YOU ARE NOT COMFORTABLE UNDERWATER YOU WILL KNOW BEFORE HAND AND PERHAPS BE ABLE TO
WORK ON IT SOME BEFORE BUDS OR YOU CAN WAIT AND BE KICKED OUT DURING BUDS FOR PANICKING.  SO
WHAT IF THEY HAVE TO RE-TEACH YOU.  YOU WILL LEARN SO MUCH NEW STUFF ANYWAY IT DOES NOT MATTER. 
SAME GOES FOR SHOOTING GUNS TOO – THEY WILL RE-TEACH YOU HOW TO DO THAT AS WELL.
o       Martial Arts?  - NOT A PRACTITIONER OF IT THOUGH I WRESTLED AND DID SOME JUDO / JUI JITSU FOR FUN…
THEY WILL TEACH YOU WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW AT BUDS / SEALS TEAMS…
o       Do you have any books that you would recommend I read?   SEAL TEAM ONE – by Dick Couch, 
Combat Swimmer – Gormly AND ALL THE ONES YOU LISTED BELOW
o       There are a HUGE amount of books on Navy SEALs/Spec Ops, however, sorting out the crap from the good stuff is 
pretty tough. Do you have any recommendations on good ones to read?
§         Ones I've already read...
1.      The Warrior Elite, by Dick Couch   - GREAT ONE
2.      The Warrior Soul, by Chuck Pfarrer  - GREAT ONE
3.      Without Remorse, by Tom Clancy   - OK – NOT REAL - ENTERTAINING THOUGH
4.      Lone Survivor, by Marcus Luttrell  - AWESOME – BEST ONE TO DATE FOR ME
5.      Suffer in Silence, by David Reid  - OK – WRITTEN BY A GUY WHO QUIT BUDS – THOUGHT HIS STORY
WAS NOT VERY REAL IN MY OPINION - FICTIONAL I KNOW
6.      The Coveted Black and Gold, by JD Lock  - NOT READ THAT ONE
7.      The Navy SEAL Physical Fitness Guide, by Patricia Deuster  - OK
Most important of all my questions is this...
·          I know I can reach the physical level that I need to be at in order to have a good shot at passing all the 
physical evolutions of BUD/S...however, the more people I talk to that have had Special Ops experience say that 
90% of it is, "all between your ears". I realize that even the strongest and fastest people may not have the 
mental fortitude to be cold and wet the rest of their lives, much less their time in BUD/S. 
How can I test, prepare, research and study for the mental rigors I'll face in BUD/S? 

YOU CANNOT REALLY PREP LIKE THIS OTHER THAN TRAIN REALLY HARD AND UNDERSTAND WHAT
DISCOMFORT / COLD IS.  JUST BY PRACTICING / TRAINING YOU WILL BUILD MENTAL TOUGHNESS. 
MANY PEOPLE WHO UNDERSTAND WHAT IT MEANS TO “PLAY WITH PAIN” ATHLETES ETC DO VERY
WELL AT BUDS AS IT IS TOUGH AND THERE ARE DAYS THAT YOU WILL “PLAY HURT” OR EVEN SICK.  
·      THIS IS WHAT MAKES BUDS SO GREAT – IT MAKES YOU GO INTO THE UNKNOWN AND CHALLENGE YOURSELF
WITHIN TO SEE IF YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES…
·     GO TO BUDS TO COMPETE NOT JUST MERELY SURVIVE – TRY TO WIN THE RUNS, SWIMS, O COURSES,
PT CONTESTS AND YOU WILL NEVER THINK ABOUT QUITTING I PROMISE.  I DID NOT.  I ONLY FEARED
GETTING INJURED.
MY 2 CENTS
STEW SMITH   

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How do I Gain Weight?

I receive this question often from young men and women in their teens and early twenty’s. I remember when I was that age, gaining weight was difficult, but it can be done with a proper diet and strength-training program.

Weight gain is something that isn’t easy to do and you probably know this already. People who cannot gain weight usually have a high metabolism, which makes gaining so hard. The key to weight gain is to do everything BIG. You have to eat big, lift big, in order to get big. This is your new motto! A lot of people think weightlifting is the key to gaining weight. It is an extremely important part, BUT, the other thing that is just as important is your diet.

So, to put it as simply as possible, there are 5 simple steps to how to gain weight:

1) Count how many calories you eat in a normal day. Don’t change anything, just eat like you normally would and count how many calories you consumed. This is extremely important, so try to be as exact as possible. Also, weigh yourself. If you are not gaining weight or losing weight, this number is your baseline caloric intake.

2) Starting the day after you counted calories, eat 500 calories MORE than you normally do. So, pretend that the day you counted calories you counted 2000 as your baseline. For the rest of the week, you would now eat 2500 calories a day. Instead of eating 3 big meals a day or eating all day all the time, spread those calories out over 5-6 smaller meals. Eat one meal every 2 and a half to 3 hours. To get big, you have to eat big! Remember that.

3) Weightlifting! Get in the gym and lift! This is another important step to how to gain weight, so make sure you are doing it correctly. For more information on weightlifting workout routines check out the StewSmith.com eBook Fitness Store for PT workouts and the new Weightlifting workout.


4) At the end of the week, weigh yourself. You’ll notice you are gaining just after one week! Now, don’t expect to see a 10lb increase. Gaining anymore than 1 or 2 pounds a week is unhealthy and means you are putting on way too much fat. So look for 1 or 2 pound gains at the end of the week. Doesn’t sound like much? You can be gaining 5-8 pounds a month! So be patient.

5) Here is an important one. At some point, you will stop seeing weight gain. At this point, you will have to eat even more. So, when you stop gaining for at least 2 weeks, it means it is time to start eating an extra 250 calories a day. Every time you see you haven’t gained weight for at least 2 weeks, add an extra 250 calories. UNTIL you have reached your goal. NOW, even more important KEEP WORKING OUT! Do not just eat to get big. Lift to get big too!!!

More tips for how to gain weight (extremely important!)

Stay away from fat! Even though weight gain is your goal, you don’t want to be getting all your calories from fatty foods, thus gaining fat. Get rid of the chips and candy. No more fast food, nothing fried. Stick to high protein / low fat foods like tuna fish (and other seafood), chicken breast, turkey, ham, lean meats, fruits and vegetables.

WATER! Drink water! Drink around a gallon a day, more if you can. Yes, that is a lot of water, but it is water that will allow you to gain weight. Just make sure you sip it through the day and not consume quarts during meals. That will take up space in your stomach. Below is a list of foods you want to eat to gain weight:

Foods that will assist with weight gain:

Whole or 2% milk Milkshakes

Salad dressing Mayonnaise

Cheese Burgers

Raisin Bran Cereal Oatmeal

Crackers Croissant

Peanut butter and jelly Club sandwiches

Bagel Cream based soup

Prime rib Steak

Ice Cream Chicken

Ham Steak Fish

Peanuts Beans, Peas

Potatoes Carrots

Bananas Protein drinks

Eat these in moderation if you are trying to lose weight, but add additional helpings if you are trying to boost your caloric intake to 2500-3000 cals per day in order to gain weight – even more if you are very active with your workouts.

If you want to lose weight you have to drop your calories to 1500-1800 calories a day in addition to cardio-vascular and resistance training exercise.

Feel free to contact meat Stew@stewsmith.com if you have any questions. Also, read the Article Archive Guide for answers to Army, Navy, Air Force Special Forces, scoring better on the PFT, losing weight and many other issues with fitness in the military.

Thanks for the e-mails. Keep them coming at stew@stewsmith.com.

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Tough Love

Stew,

I’ve been reading your articles and you have some great tips on how to lose weight. I am a 34 year old mother of two, am 5’8”, and have been fighting an extra 30-40 lb for the past two years. It seems that everything I try ends up in failure.   I am afraid I am locked in an infinite cycle of Phase 1. I can’t seem to get out of this phase!

I need some tough words to motivate me, with no option of failure. I am sick of the “you can do it” mentality, said with a smile. Maybe if someone told me I can’t do it, it would make me mad enough to prove them wrong. What do you say to people who need that kind of no-nonsense push?

See Motivational Workout pic for reminding purposes!!

There is very little difference between getting motivated to exercise and lose weight / get healthy and having the self-motivation to do the same.  Even if it requires one outside voice to motivate you to do something, in the end it is really YOU who accomplishes the task at hand.  So, I tell people when I receive a success story – that sure I wrote a workout that worked for you, but it was YOU who did the workouts daily, who took control of your eating habits, or other unhealthy habits – not ME.  So in the end – you have to be self-motivated.

Self – Motivation is defined by WikiPedia as the ability to motivate yourself, to find a reason and the necessary strength to do something, without the need of being influenced to do so by another person. Working in a careful and consistent manner without giving up.

BUT, sometimes people need a kick in the butt and need to stop feeling sorry for themselves and could use some “self-motivation”.  Not everyone needs this type of motivation, but I will say from personal experience, it does work.  Here is a story that explains how it works:

When I was 18 years old after spending two and a half years of my high school days trying to qualify for the Naval Academy, I got accepted.  I was pretty pumped.  Before I left, I actually had an adult teacher actually say to me, “Well, if we see you back here in six months, we’ll know you didn’t make it.”  Needless to say this shocked me, but when the days got long and difficult during the next four years, I always thought of that jack-@## and it did help me stay motivated.

Here are some examples to try on yourself if you need a little kick in the butt:

Even though these will not apply to everyone, we all may have 1-2 that we could do better on.

I usually start out with – DON’T TELL ME….I learned this one from Erin O’Neill – See her story

– DON’T TELL ME you want to lose weight yet you spend all day playing video games, watching TV…(_________fill in the blank with any lazy activity)

– DON’T TELL ME you want to lose weight yet you eat extra large portions / extra calorie snacks / desserts.  (you could also use the phrase “stuffing your pie hole with…”)

– DON’T TELL ME you want to get healthy and still smoke, drink to excess, or have a high fat diet.

– DON’T TELL ME you want to be an example to your kids and you eat at fast food restaurants when most convenient.
(Just get them the toy in the Kids Meal – that is all they really want.)

– DON’T TELL ME you want to serve your country in the military, law enforcement, or fire fighter, yet you cannot even take care of yourself.  How are you supposed to have the ability to save your partner or a victim needing help?

– DON’T TELL ME you want to be in Special Forces one day, but you do not know what it means to push yourself physically / mentally and still fail – BUT get back up and succeed.

So I tell people – DON’T TELL ME  – Just DO it….THEN tell me you DID it.

Sorry about the tough love, but the email I got MOTIVATED me to share.  Thanks and good luck staying motivated.  Feel free to email me anytime at stew@stewsmith.com

I hope these ideas can help you rebuild your determination to get back to exercising.  Check out the StewSmith.com Fitness e-Book Store for more information on the programs for passing nearly every PFT in the military as well as regular workouts for weight loss and general fitness.

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