Now that all the celebrating of the festive season is over, 60 percent of adults will resolve to "lose weight and get in shape" for the New Year! After years of helping people reach their weight-loss goals, we've put together 10 keys to help make your New Year's resolution for weight loss and fitness a successful one.
1. Do some type of aerobic exercise (walking, jogging, swimming, stationary cycling, aerobic dancing, etc.) on a daily basis, preferably in the morning.
2. If I had to pick a single factor that I thought was most important in a successful exercise or weight-loss programme, it would be to exercise first thing in the morning - every morning! Although your goal should be 30 to 60 minutes per day, some mornings, you may just be able to fit in a 10-minute walk, but that's still a lot better than doing nothing.
So why mornings?
• Over 90 percent of people who exercise consistently, exercise in the morning. If you want to exercise consistently, odds are in your favour if you exercise first thing in the morning.
• When you exercise early in the morning, it jump starts your metabolism and keeps it elevated for hours, sometimes up to 24 hours! That means you're burning more calories all day long just because you exercised in the morning!
• When you exercise in the morning you'll be energised for the day! Personally, I feel dramatically different on days when I have and haven't exercised in the morning.
• Many people find that morning exercise regulates their appetite for the day; that they aren't as hungry and they make better food choices. Many people have told me that it puts them in a healthy mindset.
• If you exercise at about the same time every morning, and ideally wake up at about the same time on a regular basis, your body's endocrine system and circadian rhythms adjust to that.
Physiologically, some wonderful things begin to happen. A couple of hours before you wake, your body begins to prepare for waking and exercise because it "knows" it's about to happen. Why? Because it "knows" you do the same thing just about every day. You benefit from that in several ways:
a. It's much easier to wake-up. When you wake-up at different times every day, it confuses your body and thus it's never really prepared to awaken.
b. Your metabolism and all the hormones involved in activity and exercise begin to elevate while you're sleeping. Thus, you feel more alert, energised and ready to exercise when you do wake up.
c. Hormones prepare your body for exercise by regulating blood pressure, heart rate, blood flow to muscles, etc.
• For many people, that appointed time every morning becomes something they look forward to. It's time they've set aside to do something good for themselves; to take care of their body, mind, and soul. Many find that it's a great time to think clearly, pray, plan their day, or just relax mentally.
• Research has demonstrated that exercise increases mental acuity. On average it lasts 4-10 hours after exercise! No sense in wasting that brain power while you're sleeping.
• Exercise first thing in the morning is really the only way to assure that something else won't crowd exercise out of your schedule. When your days get hectic, exercise usually takes a back seat!
• If finding time to exercise is difficult, anyone can get up 30 to 60 minutes earlier to exercise (if it's a priority in your life). If necessary, you can go to sleep a little earlier. Also, research has demonstrated that people who exercise on a regular basis have a higher quality of sleep and thus require less sleep!
3. Train for a walking or jogging event. I've seen dramatic changes in people's weight as a byproduct of training for a competition or event. Remember, you don't have to be Superman to do this. I've worked with people who couldn't walk around the block, and months later were walking in a 5k event or even a half marathon or marathon. Find a race or event and sign-up now - and start training! Your plateau will vanish when you start training!
4. Incorporate intervals into your aerobic exercise. Intervals are brief periods (about one minute) of more intense exercise mixed into your regular aerobic exercise sessions. For example, if you're walking, you would do a one minute interval of faster walking about every five minutes throughout your exercise session.
Here's how it will look: you'll start with your normal three to five minute warm-up and then five minutes into your workout you do your first interval, one minute of faster walking (or perhaps jogging). At the end of that minute you should be "winded" and ready to slow down. You'll slow down to your normal exercising speed for the next four minutes and then your fifth minute is another one-minute interval. This pattern continues throughout your exercise session.
You'll derive several benefits from intervals:
• Intervals can help you get past a weight loss plateau.
• Intervals increase your aerobic fitness level by pushing the envelope. While doing your interval you cross the anaerobic threshold into anaerobic metabolism, forcing your body to become conditioned to more intense exercise.
• Your increased level of fitness means that a given level of exercise will feel easier and that you will be able to exercise at a higher intensity which "burns" more calories.
• Your increased level of fitness also means that you will be less fatigued from daily activities and you'll have more energy throughout the day.
• Intervals increase your basal metabolic rate (BMR), causing you to burn more calories 24 hours a day.
• Intervals cause you to burn more calories during your exercise session and for several hours afterwards.
• Intervals will tone the involved muscles to a greater degree than your regular aerobic exercise would.
• Intervals can make your exercise less monotonous and help the time pass more quickly.
• Intervals will energise you!
5. Always eat breakfast! Skipping breakfast sends a message to your body that you're "starving" because you haven't had food in 18+ hours. As a protective mechanism, your metabolism slows down.
6. Avoid fad diets! For healthy, permanent weight loss, develop an active lifestyle and concentrate on eating carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and limit the amount of fat you consume.
7. Eat earlier in the day! Research has demonstrated that you can lose weight simply by eating a substantial breakfast and lunch, and a light dinner. Dinner should be eaten as early as possible, preferably at least four hours before bedtime.
8. Never eat less than 1,200 calories per day! Less than 1,200 is usually not enough to support your basal metabolism and thus will slow your metabolism.
9. Look for situations to be active. Park as far from the supermarket as you can rather than looking for the closest parking spot. Use the stairs rather than the lift, a rake rather than a blower, etc. Look for the "difficult" way to do things - the way that requires the most effort!
10. Avoid the "3 P's" - weight-loss pills, powders, and potions! If you vigorously pursue fitness and health, weight loss will happen!