It’s that time of year again when most of us resolve to lose weight. Here are tips on how to actually get resultsBy: Erin Hicks
According to a survey of Fitbie readers, 69.5% of you want to lose weight, sculpt a better body, or improve your health in 2012. These healthy intentions are good news. But be warned: Only 29% of survey respondents say they actually achieved their resolutions last year. (Read about one woman’s ongoing struggle with the scale for the past 4 years.) To help improve your success rate, try focusing on small, tangible goals that are proven to maximize results. We spoke with fitness experts about how you can upgrade your resolutions, and they provided the following eight strategies to help focus your efforts and conquer your health goal by year’s end.
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Video: Quick Living Room Workout
Upgrade it: Strength-train to lose fat
Lifting weights not only works up a sweat, it also causes a metabolic spike, which cardio alone won’t do (Search: How can I boost my metabolism?). A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that women who completed an hour-long strength-training workout burned 100 more calories 24 hours period afterward than they did when they didn’t lift weights. ”You’ll burn more in less time,” says Kristin Anderson, celebrity fitness trainer and founder of MyDailyTrainer.com. Strength-training also has an anti-aging benefit: “It helps increase bone density, which makes us stronger and our bones less brittle as we age,” she says.
Get started: Try to fit in a quick 15-minute workout three times a week, like this one. “Put it in your schedule and make sure you fit it in,” says Anderson.
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Upgrade it: Strengthen your whole body
It’s not uncommon to zero in on your most annoying trouble zone and forget about working the rest of your body. But exercising only your arms, for example, works out just 20% of your body, making a whole-body workout more effective overall. (Video: Blast fat with this total-body circuit) “For the amount of time you spent working on that one body part you would get four times the results by working on your whole body,” says Anderson.
Get started: Try this superfast 15-minute total-body workout. “Total-body workouts are better for your posture and it will boost your metabolism for longer-lasting results,” she says. You’ll see results in your problem area, and will look better all over.
Need some exercise motivation? Print out this free poster to remind yourself that "Sweat is fat crying."
Upgrade it: Clean up your eating habits
“In the past people chose fad diets because they seemed quick and easy,” says Anderson. “Now people know that fad diets are proven not to work in the long run because the weight loss is often temporary.” A 2007 study published in the journal American Psychologist found that at least one-third to two-thirds of people on diets regain more weight than they lost within 4 to 5 years. Instead of turning to a short-term solution, overhaul your eating habits. Commit to starting off every day with a healthy breakfast, and planning out the rest of the day’s meals so they meet healthy guidelines.
Get started: Give your diet a clean sweep with these nine strategies for healthy eating.
Upgrade it: Gain muscle mass
Instead of saying you want to lose 20 pounds, vow to change your fat-to-lean-muscle ratio. “Having more lean muscle increases your metabolism and decreases your fat [adipose] tissue,” says Anderson. (Search: What is adipose tissue?)
Get started: Instead of using the body mass index (BMI) to gauge whether your weight is healthy, try out the body adiposity index (BAI)—a new test proposed as an alternative to calculating your BMI. The BAI can be used to find your percentage of body fat. Check out this link to find out how. Don’t get discouraged if you weigh more after you start working out. Increasing your lean muscle mass may make the scales budge up, but your pants size will go down, says Anderson.
The Best Weight Calculator for You
Upgrade it: Work out in a small group
If sweating it out with one person is motivating, imagine the benefits of exercising with five workout buddies. Anderson says it’s more common now to work out with a bunch of people, not just one-on-one. (Video: Would you group exercise while blindfolded?) “The benefit of working out in a group is that if one person doesn’t show up it doesn’t mean that the whole thing goes down,” Anderson says. “There are several people around to motivate one another. The group energy helps you push through if you hit a plateau.”
Get started: Try to get four or five coworkers together to jog or walk at lunch three times a week. If you live in a neighborhood, see if you can get the community together for hikes or activities on the weekend.
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Upgrade it: Get back to basics with functional training
“Functional training is essentially what exercise is all about—preparing your body for the movements we perform in our everyday activities,” says Jessica Matthews, American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer and exercise physiologist. Functional movements such as the squat, deadlift, and farmer’s walk mimic motions performed in daily life such as sitting down, lifting a toddler, or carrying the groceries.
Get started: “We’re seeing more programs focus on core activation and strength, spinal stability, and balance.” You can do this at home without any equipment by doing exercises such as the squat, lunge, plank, and balance-training exercises. (Check out this no-equipment at-home workout.) Functional training has more long-term benefits by reducing the risk of injury and making your body move more efficiently and perform more effectively.
One-Minute Fitness Tests
Upgrade it: Change how you feel
Instead of fixating on the numbers on the scale, Matthews says to move toward behavioral and lifestyle changes, which are ultimately what will help you reach your goals. “Exercising can increase your energy level, productivity, and the drive to do the things you want to do,” she said. “It can also help you sleep better.”
Get started: Change your mindset about exercise. Make fitness something you incorporate as healthy habits into your daily life instead of just as time spent at the gym. Bike instead of drive, play outside with your kids, take the stairs instead of the escalator, and so on. “Ten minutes here, 5 minutes there add up and it can all make you feel healthier and happier in the long run,” says Matthews.
84 Little Ways to Move More
Upgrade it: Practice a few different workouts each week
Diversifying your workout is a great way to stave off a plateau, prevent boredom, and keep your muscles guessing, says Anderson. “It’s getting more common to see people go from the tennis court to dance class, or finish off a 30-minute strength-training session with 35 minutes of Pilates,” she says.
Get started: Plan ahead for the week. Choose a few different routines or fitness classes, and schedule them on your calendar.
Up next: 10 Healthy Tips To Change Your Life in 10 Seconds or Less
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