Commander's fit tip: A new year, a new you

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. -- I'm hearing that there is a remote possibility that not everyone conquered the munchies over the holidays, and my suggestion of just running a marathon on Christmas Day to make up for it might not have had universal appeal. So for those of us who didn't holler "ya hooo!" when we jumped on the scale for the first time in 2010, let's strategize a bit on the road ahead.

First and foremost, let's not get in a hurry. Setbacks are the enemy, and we can't let our fresh enthusiasm lead us into an injury. I'm not talking about an ankle sprain or a pulled muscle, I'm talking about anything that will generate a nagging pain and slow us down.

If you are re-starting a workout regimen after a month-long layoff, ease back in. Hit the gym twice on the first week, and be REALLY deliberate and methodical. Back off the resistance. Ramp it the next week, and then on week three resume your daily routine. You aren't wasting your time, you are preserving your ability to stay in this fight for the rest of the year. If you are essentially starting over, "period one" of our phased routine is the way to go.

The high rep, low weight approach will prep your muscles, tendons, and blood vessels for the challenges ahead. Trust me, moderate soreness the next morning is hugely overrated. If you "feel" like you worked out the day prior, that's enough of a signal. If you find yourself reaching for a pain reliever, you've done too much.

Next, reconsider my plea for all of us to seek out professional advice and a tailored program. The "pros" will build a goals focused routine, and take into consideration any limitations you might already face. Bad back? Knee pain? Shoulder ache?

These guys have work arounds and it's likely that many nagging issues will resolve with regular workouts and a targeted strength building campaign. Plus we can all benefit from a fresh look at the techniques on the menu. Proper positioning, adjustments and careful execution are the secret.

To help get the active-duty and several DoD civilians off to a good start this year, we're bringing in some professional help. Next week, we're hosting the Evolution Running clinic, which teaches runners efficient and injury-reducing techniques. Turns out, many of us run, but we were never taught how to run correctly! We're going to help fix that.

Finally, commit. I mean really commit. Make your health the priority. So many of the chronic ailments are preventable with a dedicated fitness program, and the minutes you spend in the gym will add years to your life, and improve the quality of those years.

Along the way, you will have more energy, improve your concentration, sleep better, and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment as you attain and set new goals.

OK, just one more thing...try something new. Often we get into a bit of a rut, and forget that a portfolio of activities is one of the best ways to keep our motivation up and further reduce injury risk.

Here's one I'd really like you to consider...take a group class at least once a week. My favorite is "spinning" but there are so many to choose from. There's just something special about working out among friends. I truly appreciate the serenity of a solo run in the woods, and if that's your "relief valve" I applaud that. But just give a group class a chance.

For me, I'm facing a bit of an uphill climb here ... seems all this writing is costing me precious minutes on the treadmill, and my "Fight's ON!" tracker is a little out of whack. Must be the shiny new scale. Data errors!

But before I send it to the PMEL shop, I'll refocus on the off chance it's telling me what I should already know. See you at spinning!