I'm probably not telling you anything you don't know when saying the #1 New Year's Resolution is to lose weight. I would venture a guess that many of the fitness oriented folks who read this newsletter are in the same boat; maybe you are looking to lose some fat, get a little leaner, and start to show those muscles that have been hidden by "winter's insulation."
Studies have shown that on average, individuals only gain a couple pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year's. This is contrary to several of the reports out there stating that stretch of about 6 weeks is prime time for folks to gain 10 pounds or more.
The problem, however, is not the small amount of weight that is gained, but the fact that it is not lost, meaning year after year, this weight (and likely more) continues to add up.
Therefore, it's time to put this to a stop. Make your resolution happen. All too often everyone is gung ho come January 1, then one week later are tempted and pulled by outside influences to give in "just once" or maybe hear "you have been SOOOO good, why not skip the gym tonight." The list of excuses is endless, but it's time to buckle down and make this happen.
Let's talk about some ways to be successful with your fat loss resolutions in 2006.
1. Define A Goal:
|WHAT'S YOUR GOAL|
Now, this is probably not new. Does this sound familiar - this year I will lose weight. Great, but what does that mean? When I say define a goal, DEFINE a goal ... be specific and set a deadline.
Instead of "this year I will lose weight," make it "by March 14 at 12 p.m, I will lose X pounds" (or whatever date you choose).
Without setting a timeline on the successful completion of the goal, you are not accountable. Think about when you have an assignment at work or give a task to another - you don't say "this year I want to finish up this report," you have a specific timeline and course of action - "this project is due on Friday, February 17th by the end of the business day."
Goals and timelines for you should not be any different.
2. Write Your Goal:
Most of us think about goals for the upcoming year or goals you would like to complete. You need to write your goal(s) daily, so you are continually reminded of them and do something every single day to help you ultimately see this goal through to completion. Again, make them specific, write and rewrite them; write goals for the day, for the week, for the month, and for the long-term.
Trust me on this one; I too was a skeptic when first being introduced to this method of working, but I guarantee you it works. Be diligent. Writing and rewriting your specific goals helps remind you that just like a task at work, there is a deadline, and you need to do something everyday to work towards that goal.
For A Printable Goal Keeping List Click Here.
3. Keep A Food Log:
I know this is a bit tedious, but how else can you track your progress, know what's working and what's not, if you don't know what you're eating on a regular basis. It doesn't have to be any formal journal; keep a simple notebook, write the food, the portion you consumed, and the calories.
You're a lot less likely to have second and third helpings of dessert if you're writing things down, adding up calories, and ensuring you're making progress toward your goal every single day.
This one is so important, in fact, that research has shown keeping a food log, independent of any other changes, helped folks lose weight. You're accountable, you're more conscious of what you're eating, and you're less likely to get off track.
4. Eat More Fruits & Vegetables:
Your mom was right again. Fruits and veggies are not only great for you because of the vast array of nutrients, antioxidants, phytochemicals, etc they provide, but they help fill you up a lot more than most other foods. They are known as low energy dense foods - they provide few calories for a lot of volume.
For example, think of grapes vs. raisins (which are dried grapes). When matched calorie for calorie, you can have approximately 2 cups of grapes for every 1/2 cup of raisins. Which do you think will fill you up more?
Again, just like the research with food logs, research out at Penn State has shown that adding fruits and veggies, independent of any other change, has been shown to enhance weight loss. Make it one of your written goals to add one new fruit and/or vegetable each day.
5. Train Hard & Train Regularly:
- You have to take the kids to after school events.
- Your boss called a meeting a lunch.
- You need to help the kids with their homework at night.
- You have too much homework at night.
- You're too tired in the morning to wake up any earlier.
Again, not rocket science here, but let's talk specifics. Training is like the second wheel on a bicycle to keep it moving. Many times exercise becomes the thing that goes to the back burner:
Just like every other task on your "to do" list, you need to make a place for exercise. Keep in mind there are 24 hours in a day (and no, we can't change that). Map out what a day looks like - you sleep for 6-8 (hopefully the latter) and you work 8 hours/day. I know that you may work more and sleep less - let's say between the two, you take up 16 hours out of the day. That leaves 8 hours.
Within that 8 hours, you may be mommy and daddy chauffeur for a few, then chef for another 1, or babysitter for 1. We're now down to about 2-3 hours. While it may not be convenient to exercise at night, or first thing in the morning, it's less convenient to be ill with disease because you didn't care for your body and lose the weight you needed.
Now within the training paradigm there are specific areas where you should focus your efforts.
You need to lift weights and lift with a purpose. Make the most out of your time and lift hard so you fatigue your muscles. This will help maintain (or increase) your lean body mass which, ultimately, will help stoke your metabolism.
If you're a female, same holds true - those 1-pound pink coated dumbbells are good as paper weights, lift something real (and, no, you won't get too big).
You should be doing some type of steady state cardiovascular exercise. During a set period of time, this will burn more calories than weight training (every 1 mile you walk or run, you burn approximately 100 calories), and help strengthen the 'ol ticker. Remember too that shorter bouts of activity count toward your total for the day (at least 10 minutes in duration).
If you know you'll be pressed for time one day, get 10 minutes in the morning, 10 before lunch, and 10 when you get home. This will help you reach your goal without taking a chunk out of your busy day.
Lastly, I recommend some type of intervals, meaning higher intensity training mixed with lower intensity training. These can be done on the bike, treadmill, outside on a track, rowing machine, etc.
Intervals have been shown to be just as effective as steady state aerobics for cardiovascular conditioning and fat loss. Try a 30-second sprint (ALL OUT), followed by a 60-second rest, and repeat.
CAUTION: If you are physically inactive, approach these with caution. They are demanding and you don't want to hurt yourself.
So there you have it, a surefire way to start you on the path to reach your weight loss goals in 2006.
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