Get off to a good start for a fit and healthy New Year.
1. Be Determined to be Successful
Someone once wrote: "Be Determined to Be Determined" -- which is similar in tone and even more pointed. Unless you start with this resolution, you chances of success are not good. Your ability to comply with the following resolutions will be hit and miss. Be determined.
2. Make Time for Exercise
Being in shape involves two essential elements: Lean weight and muscular and cardiorespiratory fitness. For this you need to do exercise, which differs from general physical activity in that exercise is generally an organized process and not random movement. Even so, non-exercise physical activity is also very important (see below).
3. Stick to a Diet and Nutrition Plan
How to eat well is not difficult. Eat mostly plants -- fruit and veg, whole grains, beans and seeds -- plus some low-fat protein of your choice. And don't overeat. That's it, there are no secrets, you just have to do it. Ultimately, it should not be a "plan" but a way of eating for life.
4. Get Sufficient Sleep
Insufficient sleep can knock you around. It upsets hormones and subsequently metabolism and prevents you from following the three critical resolutions above. Sleep is another fitness fundamental and you must accommodate it.
5. Move More Around the Home
General movement energy expenditure is called 'non-exercise activity thermogenesis' or NEAT. This is the activity you do when you are not formally exercising. It can make a real difference to daily energy expenditure and calorie balance. Do more NEAT like gardening, housework, walking kids to school or shops etc.
6. Fewer TV and Computer Sessions
This relates to No 5 above. You need to sit less. The health hazards or prolonged sitting are being gradually documented: heart disease, diabetes and metabolic syndromes all caused by excessive sitting. It's not what the body was designed for. Excessive sitting can negate some of your better exercise efforts if you get the proportions wrong. Sit less, move more in your leisure hours, and even at work if you can manage it.
7. Eat More Fresh Food, Less Packaged Food
Bodybuilders call this "eating clean," and it means emphasizing fresh produce, low-fat meats and dairy (or vegetarian equivalents), and avoiding packaged foods high in salt, sugars and fat plus additives and preservatives. If you do this, you will also see a useful fall in your supermarket budget if you choose wisely. It also means going easy on the fast foods and take-aways.
8. Do Cardio and Weights
For top of the line fitness, combine aerobic conditioning (cardio) with some form of resistance or weight training. Doing weight training as you lose weight will go some way toward maintaining muscle while you lose fat, which is the best outcome. Cardio will burn more fat than static weight lifting, so do both for best effect.
9. Aim for Achievable Fitness Goals
Don't overshoot with your goals. A sure way to get discouraged is to aim high and perform low. You need to nominate achievable goals. Depending on your base, you may need 6 months of exercise to develop a good, testable fitness level. Don't work too hard with high-intensity or high-volume programs to begin with. The secret is to use progressive programs as you get fitter.
10. Aim for Achievable Body Weight Goals
Same as above; 1-2 pounds/week weight loss is about right. If you do weights and hold on to or increase muscle, you may find you weight loss is not as rapid as you expect and may even stall. Take more notice of waist and hip, arm and leg measurements than measurement scale weights. Then you won't be fooled by the involvement of muscle.
Happy Fit New Year!