It is hard to believe that 2011 is right around the corner! I plan on making my 2011 the fittest and best year of my life (hey it is the last year I will spend in my 30s). A few small changes to your life can make dramatic improvements to your health and your life over the upcoming New Year. Try implementing a few of these and see how quickly your health and life improve.
1. Aim for 30 minutes of movement a day – the building block of a good fitness program is regular exercise, and 30 minutes is generally agreed to be the minimum time frame needed for that routine to be effective. This can be thirty minutes of weight training, thirty minutes of running, walking or biking, thirty minutes of Pilates or Yoga, or even thirty minutes of vigorous work around the house or playing a recreational sport. Remember the goal is to get your heart rate up for thirty minutes a day.
2. Add Green Tea to your diet – green tea is an amazing substance that has been linked to everything from weight loss to cancer prevention. The studies promoting the health effects of green tea are based on consuming four cups of green tea a day over a long period of time, not on taking green tea supplements, so enjoy a few cups of green tea a day.
3. Control your cheats – anyone who has controlled their diet over a long enough period of time will tell you they fell off the wagon every now and then. In fact I think occasionally cheating on your diet is valuable in throwing your body a curve ball and essential to keep you on that program. What you want to do is take control of those cheats. I do this by having days over the year already identified as days I plan on eating anything I want. For example on New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day and my Birthday at the end of April I get to eat whatever I want. Knowing these days are coming up help keep me on my program in the day between the cheats.
4. Use more than one way to measure your progress – here is a typical situation, someone goes on a diet and exercise plan, loses four pounds in the first week, then looses four ounces in the second week and figures the plan isn’t working. Well sometimes your body needs time to catch up to what you are doing to it. So instead of relying just on the scale add measuring your body fat or just take measurements of your chest, abs, waist, arms and legs. Combining two measurement systems will give you a much better idea of the progress you are making.
5. Drink more water – the old eight glasses of water a day just doesn’t cut it anymore. Aim to drink half to one ounce of water for every pound you weigh a day. Water is essential to keep your body running effectively and to flush out the waste. Additionally not drinking enough water actually causes your body to hold in water and make you appear bloated.
6. Get a physical – after all the work I did I figured I was in ideal health, then I had a physical and I found out I had genetic factors that can affect my heart and an unknown vitamin D deficiency. This physical also set a point from where changes can be monitored and I was able to discuss with my doctor my workout and nutrition strategies. Just because you feel good doesn’t mean your body doesn’t need to be checked, so go get it checked in 2011.
7. Get enough rest. For years I slept for 3 to 4 hours on average, skipping sleep all together on occasion and playing catch up and sleeping twelve hours on others, this is a stupid strategy. Modern sleep research tells us there is no ideal amount of sleep but most people need between 7 and 9 hours a night. If you go to sleep the same time every night your body will adjust to that being the time sleep begins, then on the weekend allow yourself to get up naturally and you will have a good idea how many hours you need each night. Sleep is essential because it is when your body repairs itself and without proper time to repair you’re not going to get the most from your workouts.
8. Focus on lean proteins – protein is essential for your body and a key part of getting the most of your workouts. Focus on getting your protein from natural lean sources like turkey, chicken, egg whites and fish so you get the benefits of the protein without overexposure to the unhealthy aspects of meats.
9. Eat more fruits and vegetables – in our modern fad diet world fruits and vegetables have gotten a bad reputation a rather unmerited bad reputation. Fruits and vegetables’ are packed full of essential vitamins and minerals, and they are what your body was built to run on. So don’t get caught up in the fad and enjoy what nature provides.
10. Make your rest active – rest is essential for your body to recover and to help us distress from our increasingly stressful lives, but active rest can be much more beneficial. Active rest can be working through a honey do list, light yard work, playing with your dog or kids, walking through a park or mall, going bowling, basically anything that is more than sitting on the couch but less than a proper work out.
11. Switch up your workouts every three weeks – our bodies adjust to almost anything in three weeks so we need to change our programs at least every three weeks to continue to get the most out of our efforts. Remember it is the change from the normal that your body has to adapt to that causes the stress that requires recovery that leads to weight loss and muscle growth. Changing your routine isn’t complicated, I do this simply by rotating my strength workouts between split t heavy training, full body circuits, split superset training and full body supersets. Using this simple system each routine in only repeated once a quarter and my body is constantly having to adjust and doesn’t know what’s coming next. For cardio I switch between long and moderate paced walking, high intensity interval cycling, and jumping rope. These switches always spur greater gains towards my goals.
Implement some or all of the eleven above and make your 2011 your fittest and most enjoyable in years!