Instead of Starting a Resolution, Here Is what You Should Do

Service members work out early in 2015.
Service members take advantage of weight-room amenities inside the Cpl. Terry L. Smith Gymnasium on the Henderson Hall portion of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Virginia, Jan. 4, 2015. (Arthur Mondale/Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall PAO Office)

It seems to me that most New Year's resolutions are forgotten by February. Most people bite off more than they can chew on New Year's Eve and start a drastic change of life in a short period of time.

This year, set a goal instead. But 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 lifestyle changes. Quitting smoking, starting an exercise program and dieting all in the same week can be extremely challenging.

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.

This year, I have several people who have set a goal of doing some form of race later in the year. Using the first 6-9 months to train for the event will get you in shape for the event and help you lose weight.

My wife is determined to run the Race for the Cure this year. This is a great cause for cancer research. Many of the people who run the race either have cancer or have beaten cancer in recent years. My wife, who is perfectly healthy but needs some form of cardio exercise, figures that if cancer survivors can run the race, she can, too.

If you need help to find a goal, email me at Many men seem to like to ace one of the many physical fitness tests for the military or FBI. You can find information about all of these tests at the eBook Fitness Store. It is a fun goal to be fit enough to be in the Armed Forces, Special Forces or FBI at the age of 50 or above.

Here are some more tips to starting slowly and preventing failing at your goals within the first month of the new year.


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 pounds this year.

Start walking, biking or swimming for 20-30 minutes 4-5 times a week. Some ideas can be found in the "45-Day Beginner Program" (PDF) for beginner or intermediate workouts.


Now you can pick up the physical fitness training a bit by lifting weights or starting a good calisthenics program. Exercises like push-ups, 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 you have to starve yourself. It simply means eating foods with fewer calories. Consuming more fruits, vegetables and lean meats that aren't fried would be a good start to changing your diet.


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 a habit by now, feel refreshing and relieve stress 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 already has 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.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to

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