|As December comes to a close, people all over the globe are preparing for New Year’s festivities and chatting with friends about their goals and dreams for the coming year. I have to admit that I have a love-hate relationship with New Year’s resolutions. While a commitment to a change can be a great way to jump-start your healthy lifestyle, sometimes people are so brazen about boasting their goals that detailed plans and effective strategies for reaching them can get glossed over.
Below is a list of the most common New Year’s resolutions that are almost destined to be dumped by early February. Are you guilty of setting vague and ineffective resolutions like these? Don’t worry: We’ll show you how to create goals that will motivate you to succeed long after the confetti has fallen.
Resolution #1: I will completely cut out [insert unhealthy vice here]!
Resolution Revamp: Forget about nixing your caffeine, nicotine or sugar fix for good. Instead, set a goal to add something healthy to your daily routine. When you’re trying to boost wellness, behavior science has proven that it is much easier to increase a healthy new behavior than to get rid of an old one. So a better goal than banning soda might be to focus on drinking eight cups of water every day. Or, if you feel powerless around sugar, rather than focusing on avoiding the office candy jar, you could plan to add an extra serving of fresh fruit to your lunch box. Adding healthy habits will give you a reason to pat yourself on the back (instead of punishing yourself for those guilty pleasures). And once you start to meet your new targets and build momentum, you’ll be surprised how quickly those unhealthy behaviors will start to fall away.
Resolution #2: I will reach my goal weight by this summer!
Resolution Revamp: Instead of setting a goal to shed pounds, set more specific goals that account for all of the other small, measurable achievements you’ll reach along the way. Skip the scale and find measures besides body weight and clothing size to track your progress. Whether you count salad lunches per week, pull-ups per minute, time on the stationary bike, or heart rate on your morning hike, monitoring other metrics can help you realize that losing weight isn’t the only benefit for your focus on nutrition and exercise. And because your stats for muscular strength, endurance and cardiovascular fitness tend to improve more quickly than the number on the scale, you’ll be able to boast about your results in no time (and losing weight will be a bonus by-product for your efforts).
Resolution #3: I will join a [gym, health club, exercise class]!
Resolution Revamp: The first step to fitting more fitness into your life is picking a program that works for you. Start by writing down what you want from your workouts: Musical motivation or a stoic, silent sweat? Crowded classes or personal space? Climate control or outdoor elements? Don’t forget to factor in the commute, child-care options, shower space and more. Scope out contenders and ask for a complimentary day pass to explore at your own pace until you find a gym/fitness club that stacks up to your expectations.
Resolution #4: I will spend more quality time with my [friends, spouse, family]!
Resolution Revamp: Take a look at your upcoming events and notice all the time you’re already devoting to helping and visiting family and friends: school plays, dentist appointments, birthday parties, science fairs, etc. Instead of adding to the festivities, pencil in a few hours a week just for you. Get a massage, read a new book, watch the game, take a walk in the park. Feel guilty about taking time out? Tell yourself that taking time to recharge can help you enjoy your engagements even more. Once you’ve gotten into the swing of giving yourself some quality “me” time, then you can add in appointments for phone calls with friends, date night with your spouse, and other group activities. Creating your calendar from the inside out will help you set the perfect pace in the coming year.
Resolution #5: I will max out my savings account this year!
Resolution Revamp: If your resolution is to accumulate more and spend wisely, involve everyone in your household in the decision to save. Will you break open your piggy bank for a family vacation, a family health club membership, a new car, a kitchen renovation, or a year of college for your eldest child? Choose a goal that’s important to everyone in your home and know how much you need to reach it. Then break down that big number into a per-paycheck amount and, if the overall goal is too far in the future, sprinkle in small rewards for meeting benchmarks – these strategies will help you to stay motivated on the path to savings success. Pinching pennies the right way can strengthen your spirit and lead to long-term mental, fiscal and physical wellness.
So, at your upcoming New Year’s party, don’t just follow the crowd and spout simple, undeveloped resolutions. You’ve now got the knowledge to create a personalized plan of action that will help you to start the year off right: with a renewed sense of excitement about your journey toward total health and wellness. Regardless of the specific goals you’re trying to tackle this year, the best and most effective resolutions are always:
Category Archives: Uncategorized
Men Like Shopping
Photo courtesy of Lifestyles.co.in
Men might think that the female brain is consumed by thoughts of shoes, handbags and designer dresses. A woman proposes a trip to the mall, and his blood runs cold. But as it turns out, men spend just as much as their female counterparts on “Sex and the City” do. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, men spent just $246 less than women on clothing in 2004 and 2005, and they spent more on their cars, restaurant cuisine, alcoholic drinks and audiovisual gear [Source: Hamilton].
So, men like to spend money — they just don’t like to spend it like women do. Whereas women like to stroll through the mall and peruse all the options, men prefer to decide what they want ahead of time, get it and go home. According to Professor Daniel Kruger at the University of Michigan, this difference reflects some evolutionary trends [Source: Alleyne]. As we’ve learned, traditionally, men served as the hunters, and women as the gatherers. Women would have to scope out the best spot for food and then forage carefully so as to avoid coming home with poisoned berries or rotten nuts. Today, that may be why women browse for just the right color of blouse or spend days finding the perfect birthday gift. On the other hand, men on the hunt had to be quick and decisive to catch their prey, and they needed to return home quickly to protect their homestead. If we’re still ruled by our evolutionary past, that may be why men prefer to shop speedily and return to the recliner.
Confessions of a Shopaholic
As a trainer, this question has been asked to me a dozen times. I thought this was a very informative answer for those of you who have wondered the same.
Ready to run after those reps?
If you’re keeping score in the debate over which part of your workout comes first, a new study seems to add a point in the column for cardio.
About 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise before hitting the weights results in a bigger boost to your testosterone levels than doing the same workout in reverse order, according to results published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research.
This study doesn’t end the debate, though. For one thing, an increase in testosterone isn’t the only after-effect of a workout. Aerobic exercise also releases a flood of enzymes that can actually block strength training’s muscle-building effects, the researchers caution.
And though you might think the more testosterone, the better, research on whether this initial hormonal surge leads to more strength gains later on isn’t conclusive, trainer Marc Perry, C.S.C.S., C.P.T., founder of BuiltLean, tells MensHealth.com.
Perry typically recommends that if you can’t do weights and cardio in separate sessions, do weights first for the greatest gains in strength, power, and muscle mass. That’s especially true, he says, if:
- Your cardio of choice is something other than cycling, which is what study participants did. Running, swimming, or rowing may cause more fatigue that compromises your lifting form.
- You push your cardio past a moderate effort—for instance, by doing interval workouts. You’ll be too spent to lift if you do them first.
- You’re doing complex moves—such as Olympic lifts—or using heavy weights. If you hit the treadmill first, you may be too tired to execute them correctly.
But, Perry notes, there are a few cases in which cardio can come first. For instance, if:
- You like it better—it’ll help you stick to your plan. “If someone hates doing weights before cardio, it doesn’t matter if they’re going to get slightly better results, because they’re not going to do it,” Perry says.
- You’re not as young as you used to be. “For older individuals who need a proper warmup, doing a good 10 to 20 minutes of aerobic activity before strength training can be sensible,” Perry says.
- Your main goal is to increase endurance. It’s best to stick with your primary goal first, so you stay focused and don’t skip it
Start Strong by Starting with the Right Goals
15 Simple Ways to Eat Better Today
|Most people are creatures of habit. We go to the grocery store on the same day every week and fill our carts with the same stuff. If it’s Monday, chicken’s for dinner and Wednesday always means spaghetti. We are comforted with knowing what to expect—even if our meals aren’t that exciting, we know what we’re going to eat.That’s what makes eating healthier so scary sometimes. We are so used to eating a certain way that we rarely think about what we’re actually putting into our bodies. So to eat a healthier diet means actually waking up and paying attention to what’s on your plate.
Make Healthy eating a Habit
Before you start making any changes to your diet, take a week or two to observe your current eating habits. Track everything that goes in your mouth, including drinks and treats, no matter how small. Keeping a food journal will really open your eyes—realizing that you ate 10 cookies over the course of the week might make you think twice before reaching into the cookie jar again tonight, for example. You might not realize how bad your present eating habits are until you see an unhealthy pattern right there in black and white. Once you see that some changes are in order, then you’re ready to take the next steps.
Small Changes Mean Big Rewards
If you know you need to eat more fruit, start by adding some sliced bananas to your cereal in the morning or bake an apple with a bit of brown sugar for a yummy, low-cal dessert. Fresh berries and yogurt make a nice, light breakfast or snack too.
As you adopt this new style of eating, you will find that your food preferences will gradually change—when you cut out high-sugar, high-fat goodies, your cravings will actually go away in time. Your body wants healthy food!
One of the biggest challenges to eating healthier is finding substitutions for existing foods in your diet. Here are some tips to make the transition easier:
Eating a healthier diet doesn’t have to mean deprivation. You don’t have to cut out your favorite foods completely—you just have to make a few changes. Treat yourself to a mini chocolate bar instead of a full-sized one, for example. By trying to eat the most nutritious foods possible, you are creating a healthy lifestyle that will help you reach your best weight. You deserve the very best!
|You’ve been sticking faithfully to your calorie range and exercise plans for awhile now, but you’re not seeing the results you want on your scale. Meanwhile, your weight -loss buddy is happily watching the pounds melt away week after week. Not fair!Or maybe you’re losing weight but not from the areas where you really want to shed some fat. (Skinny feet are nice, but not so much when your muffin top is still as big as ever.) And then you have that other friend who can eat anything and everything without gaining a pound, while just watching him or her eat seems to make you gain weight.What’s going on here? Why don’t your efforts seem to be paying off while weight loss seems so easy for other people? Is there anything you can do to get better results?
Sometimes there is a simple, general reason why one person loses weight faster than another. For example, men tend to lose weight more quickly than women, mainly because most men naturally have more lean muscle mass (thanks to their higher testosterone levels), and more muscle translates into a faster metabolism. Men and women also tend to store excess weight in different places—men in the abdominal area (“apple” body type), which is usually easier to lose; women in the hips and thighs (“pear” body type), which is usually harder to take off.
People who have more weight to lose may also drop the pounds more quickly in the beginning of a weight-loss program. This is because the more you weigh, the more calories you burn during any given activity. (Walking with an extra 50 pounds on your frame is harder than walking with 20 extra pounds of weight.) A person who weighs more can also cut more calories from his or her diet without jeopardizing the body’s ability to function efficiently. If you weigh 300 pounds, you may need 3,500 calories per day or more to maintain that weight; cutting 1,000 calories from your diet (down to 2,500/day) will let you safely lose 2 pounds per week. But if you weigh 150 pounds, you may only need 1,800 calories to maintain your weight, and if you try to cut the 1,000 calories from your diet (down to 800/day), your body won’t have enough fuel and your metabolism will slow down drastically, making fat loss harder, not easier. Therefore a person with less weight to lose needs to aim for a smaller calorie deficit, which will translate to a slower rate of weight loss.
Likewise, factors like age and body type can affect how fast you can shed extra pounds. Older people, for example, often lose weight more slowly, perhaps because of hormonal changes and/or because they have less muscle mass or may be less physically active.
So, if you’re comparing your weight loss to someone else’s, make sure you’re not comparing apples to oranges (or pears)—that’s just going to be frustrating and won’t tell you anything useful about your own efforts.
Sometimes, though, people who seem to share a lot of these factors—similar body size, weight, age and activity levels—just don’t get the same results, even when they do the same things. A lot of individual factors, including your individual genetics and quite a few medical conditions (like hypothyroidism, PCOS,and insomnia) and medications (like corticosteroids, or antidepressants), can make weight loss difficult. If you’re in this boat, you may need to work closely with your health professional to find an individualized approach that will maximize your weight loss results without jeopardizing your health.
But more often, slow or non-existent weight loss can be traced to very common problems that can be identified and overcome with the right kinds of changes in diet, exercise, or daily activity patterns. That’s what we’ll be looking at below.
The No. 1 Problem: Your numbers aren’t right.
In a healthy, “normally” functioning body, weight loss occurs when you use (burn) more energy (calories) than you take in from food. This calorie deficit forces your body to take fat out of storage and turn it into fuel that your cells can use to maintain necessary body functions. A pound of fat represents about 3,500 calories of stored energy, so you can predict that a calorie deficit of 3,500 will translate into one lost pound, give or take a little.
By far the most common reason why weight loss seems to be going slower than people expect is that their calorie deficit is not as large as they think it is. Either they’re not burning as many calories as they think they are, or they’re eating more than they think they are, or a combination of both.
The formulas used to estimate how many calories people need to maintain their current weight aren’t accurate for everyone—they can be off by as much as 30-40%, especially if your body fat percentage is pretty high, your physical activity level is significantly higher or lower than average, or you’re counting almost everything you do (e.g., light housework, grocery shopping, walking up one flight of stairs) as “exercise” even though it doesn’t actually meet the parameters of what counts as fitness (a high enough intensity to elevate your heart rate to an aerobic range; a duration of at least 10 continuous minutes for the activity; the moving of large muscle groups in a rhythmic way).
You can have the same problem on the other end of the energy equation: calorie intake. It’s very common to underestimate how much you’re actually eating, even when you’re tracking your food consistently. If you just eyeball your portion sizes instead of measuring them, or if you tend to forget the little “extras” you eat during the day (like licking peanut butter off the knife while making your sandwich, or tasting your pasta sauce while you’re cooking it), you can easily add a few hundred uncounted calories to your daily total.
To fix this problem, make sure your calorie numbers are as accurate as you can get them. Track your calorie intake carefully and diligently, until you can recognize portion sizes of the foods you eat often without measuring. And don’t count the regular activities of daily life you’ve always done as part of your “exercise.”
Remember that fitness trackers and cardio machines only estimate how many calories you truly burn, and these trackers and machines tend to overestimate how much you’re really burning. For a more accurate reading, you could invest in a good heart rate monitor that better estimates your calorie burn based on how hard you are actually working during exercise.
The Second Most Common Problem: Excess muscle loss
We’d like to think that every pound lost is a pound of fat, but in reality, all weight loss involves some combination of fat loss and muscle loss. To get the best results from your weight-loss efforts, you want to maximize fat loss and minimize muscle loss. The best way to do that is to include adequate strength training in your exercise routine. Without strength training, a substantial amount of the weight you lose could be muscle (lean tissue), which can reduce your fitness and lower your calorie burning capacity. To avoid these problems (and make it much easier to keep the lost weight off), be sure to include at least two full-body strength training workouts in your weekly routine.
The Final Problem: WHAT you eat may matter almost as much as HOW MUCH you eat.
How your body handles the food you eat is governed by a very complex set of biochemical interactions that determine when and where any excess calories are stored, and how easily this energy can be retrieved for later use. For some people with certain genetic predispositions, a diet high in fast-digesting carbohydrates like refined sugar and refined grains can make it easier for their bodies to store excess calories as fat and harder to get that energy back out of fat cells later on when it’s needed. It can also lead to increased appetite and more cravings for high-sugar foods. There aren’t yet any easily available tests that can identify people with this problem, but if you’ve been significantly overweight for a long time and you struggle with appetite, carbohydrate cravings, and slow weight loss, it may be worth your while to experiment with a diet higher in protein and healthy fats, and lower in refined carbohydrates and sugar. Be sure to discuss this with your doctor first, especially if you have any medical conditions/medications that can be affected by your diet.
Weight loss seems so simple on the surface: Eat less than you burn and your body will drop pounds. But for many people, there’s more to the equation than counting calories in and calories out. We are all an experiment of one; you cannot compare your results to someone else’s, just as you can’t expect to have the same results as another person, no matter how similar you may seem to be. Think of your weight loss as a continuous journey. There will be bumps in the road, along with times when the sailing is smooth, but no matter what, you’ll just have to pay attention to the route and be open to making changes in your approach or direction along the way. When you follow those guidelines, weight loss will become that much easier!
NEVER GIVE UP…
The welcome sight of the beer tent at the end of many endurance events just got a scientific credibility boost.
A new study reported in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (44 , 18–26) shows that consumption of nonalcoholic wheat beer (NAB) for 3 weeks before and 2 weeks after marathon competition reduces the postrace incidence of both muscle inflammation and upper-respiratory-tract infection (URTI). Beer possesses the same types of antioxidant properties found in red wine, according to prior research.
Two hundred seventy-seven marathoners were assigned to drink 1–1.5 liters of either NAB or a placebo per day for the 3 weeks preceding the Munich Marathon and for 2 weeks postcompetition.
Postrace, researchers recorded subjects’ muscle inflammation and signs of URTI.
Those who drank NAB had 20%–32% less muscle inflammation and an incidence of URTI 3.25 times lower than their placebo counterparts.
Again, polyphenols were the winning antioxidant ingredient. Perhaps popcorn and NAB should be served as a dynamic duo in postmarathon beer tents!
Sometimes, the amount of time we spend procrastinating is much longer than the amount of time it would take to actually do the thing we’re putting off! Do yourself a favor and just do it–now, not tomorrow. You’ll get a lot more done, and will see much faster results!