One Step at a Time - Simple Upgrade Program for Beginners

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Change Your Body, Change Your Life, One Step at a Time with this Super Simple Upgrade Program

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Do you wish you could delete these puffed up, exaggerated and ridiculous claims from your Google search when you are trying to figure out the best way to start getting in shape?

Let’s call these claims what they are: Bulls#it!

Why do I have such disdain for these programs?

They are unrealistic, unattainable, and they discourage good well intentioned people from meeting their goals.

I am going to outline a super simple program you can use to upgrade your fitness.

You will not change overnight. Work is involved and progress will take time. Getting out of shape does not happen overnight. So it stands to reason that getting in shape will also take some time.

The program consists of First steps, incremental eating style upgrades, and finally a super simple workout routine.


couple doing workout together at home

Initializing- 3 Prep Steps Before You Begin Your Fitness Journey

Before you get started do these three super simple actions.

1. Take a “before” shot

Get out your Smartphone or camera and use the mirror if you like. Snap a few pics from the front, side, and if you are particularly daring-the back.

Trust me, you will appreciate this step once you are farther into your journey.

Pictures say so much more than the scale can ever say about your fitness. Depending on your weight, the scale may actually be irrelevant, unless you have a lot of weight to lose.

One thing you don’t want to lose is these pictures so you can see just how far you have come later on.

2. Weigh in

This step is important if you want to lose weight, but it is also useful if you decide to measure bodyfat, or you just want to know where you started later.

Since this is a super simple guide, we will just keep the number for now as a simple piece of data about you.

Write it down or make a note in your phone for later.

3. Decide it’s OK if you don’t follow the plan 100 % of the time

We are all adults here, and life happens.

Whether you need to attend a friends wedding, the guys are getting together for beer or pizza, or you really are too pooped to conquer your planned workout, give yourself permission to not follow the plan every once in a while.

Don’t beat yourself up, you are not doing anything wrong. Even elite athletes miss practice and go out partying every once in a while.

Just don’t decide that since you went off plan once, you are doomed.

You are not.

You don’t lose all your hard work just because you deviate from the plan once in a while.

Diet = 80% of Your Success

sweet foods

I hate the word diet. I hate, hate, hate it. It sounds so restrictive, boring and impossible.

I MUCH prefer the word eating.

So you know what? I am going to use that word: eating.

I am not going to lay out a specific “diet plan” for you.

Instead, I am going to lay out some “Eating Upgrades” which are guidelines, not a strict and specific diet.

The Eating Upgrades are cumulative, meaning once you have assimilated Eating Upgrade 1 into your life, move on to Eating Upgrade 2, and keep up with the previous upgrades as well.

Ready to eat? Me too!

Eating Upgrade 1

Replace sugared drinks with sugar free drinks and water.

Sugar will hinder weight loss, and many health care pros believe its also bad for your health. Without getting too technical, consuming sugar increases insulin in your body. Insulin is a hormone that sends a message to your body to begin storing FAT.

If you are trying to lose weight, or more accurately, fat, you should avoid sugar.

In this first step, the goal is to switch all your drinks to sugar free, or even better, water.

Better options include:

  • Good old fashioned WATER
  • Ice tea with lemon (and maybe splenda or eyrithriol)
  • Seltzer water with a squeeze of lime or maybe just a smidge of fruit juice
  • Green tea, unsweetened or with Stevia
  • Coffee, unsweetened or with stevia
  • Water with a squirt of MiO for flavor

Once you have become a master at the art of drink replacement, move on to upgrade two.

But don’t forget to continue practicing this first step.

Eating Upgrade 2

Cook one meal a day at home. This is for folks who do not normally make meals for themselves at home.


Because cooking at least one meal at home is a small start to taking control of what you eat.

One meal is simple and just about everyone can manage it. It can be something easy like scrambled eggs and a piece of fruit or oatmeal in the morning. No need to get complicated.

If you start off with three meals, or even two, if you are not used to cooking a lot, you will grow tired and may want to give up.

Cooking your own food puts you in complete control of what you eat, how it is prepared, what macros in has and more. It is good to get in the habit so later on, when you are ready, you can begin cooking more.

If you have proudly donned your chef hat at home, once a day, for two weeks in a row, you are ready to move on to update 3.

Eating Upgrade 3

Make vegetables the star attraction on two meals per day.

So far the updates have been pretty easy, but I am willing to bet this one will be more challenging for most.

Do not be discouraged if you stay at this level for weeks or even months. The idea is to slowly build habits so they last. If you rush yourself you may get overwhelmed.

You should make small adjustments so you get used to the routine. It will get easier.


When I say “make veggies the star attraction” I mean veggies should make up 2/3s of the meal.

This could mean a small slice of pizza with a very large salad. Or it could be a chicken breast with steamed veggies and a bit of rice.

I am not going tell you exactly what to eat, because you should find food you find appetizing. This is your life and eating well should never be drudgery.

Whatever you choose, try and make 2/3 of the plate veggies, and the other 1/3 a protein and some carbs.

Eating Upgrade 4

Eat actual, authentic, bonafide Food

This step can be hard too, especially if you eat a lot of convenience or prepackaged food, cuz guess what. Those are not real food.

What is NOT real Food:

  • Any food with ingredients you can not identify or pronounce
  • TV dinners
  • Chicken nuggets, hot dogs, processed lunch meat
  • Cookies, crackers, cake
  • Mac n Cheese, or almost any boxed food
  • Any food with added corn syrup

You get the idea. I think you already know what the difference between real food and not real food is.

REAL food is:

  • Food as close as possible to it’s natural state
  • Fruits and Veggies from the produce aisle or freezer
  • Real cuts of meat, fish filets, and chicken
  • Rice, the kind you cook in a rice cooker, no uncle bens or rice a roni

You know deep in your heart of hearts what real food is, you don’t need me to make a list.

If you find this step challenging take heart. Many of us were raised on processed foods because our parents were busy and people did not know how harmful this way of eating could be.

Give yourself some grace and take it slow. You don’t need to accomplish this step overnight or even in a few weeks. Just take it one choice at a time, you will get there.

Once you have more or less eliminated processed food from your eating style, you can move on to update 5, if you dare.

Eating Upgrade 5

Get rid of sweets at least 90% of the time

I’m not going to lie, this one is hard for me.

I am perpetually stuck trying to accomplish upgrade 5 and 6 myself. Some weeks I do great and others, not so much.

Getting rid of sweets, going without sugar, or chocolate, or those reeeeally yummy pumpkin spice lattés they have at Starbucks during the holidays is HARD.

So, I am going to cut you a break. Once you accomplish this level 90% of the time, you can work on the next level.

I personally believe depriving yourself 100% is a recipe for failure and misery. Honestly.


Since sugar is known for packing on fat and causing diabetes, its best to level it down a lot.

Eating Upgrade 6

Cut out bread and pasta made with refined flour 90% of the time.

This is the final update in the “super simple upgrade” eating plan, and it is a doozy.


I know, I know. How can we give up bread? Or Pasta?

Italian food is an institution. Pizza, lasagna, spaghetti, Chicken Alfredo, the bread basket that you get before dinner at the Olive Garden!

But you know it’s the right thing to do. The goal here is to cut bread and pasta consumption 90 % of the time. You got this!

Now that you have seen the eating plan, let’s take a look at the super simple exercise routine.

Exercise = 20% of Your Success

sport wear shoes closeup

Super Simple Starter Workout – No equipment needed- Can be done at home

I built this super simple starter workout to allow you to work up to more challenging moves as you progress and upgrade your fitness aptitude.

Best of all:

This workout is Gym free, can be done at home, in your garage, or even at a park.

There is no equipment you need to buy.

You probably already know how to do most if not all of these exercises.

There are no excuses! You have the place-anywhere, you have the equipment- you just need yourself, and you have the motivation – you want to change your life, health and body.

Let’s hop to it!

Pick three days a week to complete this routine. Set aside 45 minutes to complete it, or an hour if you include a shower.

Mark your calendar and set up a reminder.

Warm up

30 seconds of jumping jacks. Just get your blood pumping and your heart working.

Strength Exercise 1

Push ups

These versions are designed to allow you to work up to full complete pushups, so take them one level at a time.

  • Version v1.0: Wall Push up 2 sets of 50 wall pushups. Once you can complete 2 sets of 50 with good form, you can upgrade to version 1.2
  • Version v1.1: Knee Push ups 3 sets of 30 knee pushups. Once you master 3 sets of thirty, you can level up at your next workout.
  • Version v1.2: Halfsies 2 sets of 25. Once you can easily knock out two sets of 25 halfsies, its time to take your pushups to the final pushup version, the complete push up.
  • Version v1.3: Complete Push Up At this level you are seriously working your pecs, triceps and core muscles. You will probably notice a difference if you compare this picture with your “before shot” Congratulations, you are transitioning out of the beginner level.

Strength Exercise 2

Sit Ups

Sit ups are a fitness basic and pretty much everyone knows how to do them, but be sure to review the video to see the small details that will help you get the most mileage out of your sit ups.

Start at 1.0 and only move on when that does not challenge you anymore.

  • Version v1.0: 10 sit ups
  • Version v1.1: 15 sit ups
  • Version v1.2: 20 sit ups

Strength Exercise 3

Step Ups

Find a step, embankment, park bench, or whatever is available and sturdy to begin your step-up. The height should be about knee height, maybe a little lower depending on your fitness level.

It’s a really simple exercise and its great for the glutes. Start at 1.0 and only move on when that does not challenge you anymore.

  • Version v1.0: 2 sets of 10 step ups on each leg.
  • Version v1.1: 3 sets of 10 step ups on each leg.
  • Version v1.2: 4 sets of 10 step ups on each leg.

Strength Exercise 4


An all purpose leg building move that works quads, glutes and hip flexors, plus stretches the hamstrings. When you are ready for additional challenge, simply add a set to your routine, working up to 3 sets of 10.

  • Version v1.0: 1 set of 10
  • Version v1.1: 2 sets of 10
  • Version v1.2: 3 sets of 10

Strength Exercise 5


An excellent core strengthening exercise. Start with v1.0 and move on when you are ready. Watch the video for a demonstration of these progressively more challenging plank styles.

Super Simple Cardio Program

young fitness woman runner running at seaside

Walk & Jog. Work up to running a Mile

If just the thought of running a mile causes you to break a sweat, you are not alone.

Estimates vary quite a bit, but figuring at least half of all Americans are overweight, it would not be surprising if only a small percentage could actually run for an entire mile.

But I do believe you can work up to running a mile if you take it one step at a time.

Mile Run v1.0

Walk one mile.

If you have a track or school nearby that you can use to measure the mile, great. You can also use a fitness tracker or the Map my Walk app on your smartphone.

Once you can comfortably walk a mile and feel ready for a new challenge, move up to v1.1.

Mile Run v1.1

Run ¼ mile, walk ¾.

That’s right, run one lap, walk the other three.

After you acclimate yourself to this level, its time to upgrade your run time.

Mile Run v1.2

Run ¼ Mile. Walk ¼ mile. Run ¼ mile. Walk ¼ mile.

Rinse and repeat until this level is easy to do.

This could take a few weeks or months. Do not rush yourself. Fitness does not happen overnight.

The goal is to build habits that last a lifetime. There is no one standing at the finish line with a clipboard monitoring your performance.

Mile Run v1.3

Run ¾ mile, walk ¼. If you have not been conditioned to run a mile, and haven’t run one since high school, this level might really challenge you.

Remember, many people say, and believe, they can run a mile, but when push comes to shove, most out of shape folks end up walking a little.

Mile Run v1.4

This is the last leg of the beginner cardio.

Try and put away any horrible high school memories you have of the presidential fitness test, or those awful short shorts they made you wear in gym class.

You are ready for this! And you are only competing with yourself. No one is watching.

Run that mile, baby!

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