5 ways to get healthy in the New Year
Easy tips and tricks to help you achieve your fitness resolutions
By Bryan Fass
Another New Year’s Eve has come and gone, and chances are you made a list of goals and “resolutions” for 2014. Perhaps you want to lose weight, get fit, stop smoking or even learn to play an instrument or speak a new language. All of these are fantastic and admirable goals, BUT — do you know why they will never be achieved?
Responders make goals every year, and every year they fail, but this year can be different. Instead of focusing on why we do not succeed, here are some easy tips and tricks to help you look better, feel better, move better and improve your wellness.
1. Embrace technology
Since we all have smart phones and we live truly mobile lives, it only makes sense to embrace some great new apps that have hit the market this year.
GymPact, recently renamed Pact, is a free app that pays you when you meet your fitness and diet goals, and charges you when you don’t. First you set goals, such as exercising four times a week or eating a certain amount of vegetables a day. You must prove via GPS or a photo that you completed your workout or ate the right kind of food. If you meet your commitments, you can earn between 30 cents and $5 a week. But for every activity you miss, a minimum of $5 is taken directly out of your bank account, which must be linked to the app upon signing up.
Money is a great motivator, and the app has a 92 percent success rate of users meeting their weekly goals.
2. Understand why sugars are so bad for you
Data points to the fact that it’s not eating too many calories without exercising that drives obesity, but rather eating too much refined sugar.
Research suggests that refined sugar (in particular fructose) is exceptionally effective at causing leptin resistance in animals, and it’s very effective at blocking the burning of fat.
Fructose also has effects independent of this mechanism to induce metabolic imbalance. According to Dr. Richard Johnson, fructose can increase weight through the standard mechanism of stimulating more food intake and blocking the burning of fat – but even when you control caloric intake, fructose can affect body composition.
This is because when you eat fructose, you actually generate more fat in your liver for the same amount of energy intake, compared to other types of sugar. For example, if you calorically restrict an animal but give it a high-fructose diet or a high-sugar diet, it will still produce fatty liver and will still become insulin resistant. As Dr. Johnson notes, fructose has two effects:
- It stimulates weight gain through its effects on your appetite and by blocking the burning of fat
- It changes your body composition to increase body fat even when you are on a caloric restriction
3. Don’t fall for a fad
This time of year we are bombarded by the fads and programs that promise to shed pounds quickly and with no exercise. Would-be exercisers are often afraid of looking silly at the gym, so they follow a misguided belief that if they follow a trend or a flash program, they will perform better in the gym.
We know that simply moving and exercising will benefit you. But it’s the consistency of what you do that will help to establish healthy habits, which will then allow you to achieve your fitness goals. We essentially put square wheels on the cart and then run after the horse.
4. Don’t rely on cardio to burn fat
Long periods of cardio on the treadmill or elliptical will improve your cardiovascular function, but your body adapts to this very quickly and then plateaus. Would-be fat burners actually go about it completely backward. Lift weights first!
Weight training requires constant energy use and increasing stimulus so you burn more calories during and after. Then, when you are done with a 30-minute session of weight training and your stored muscle glycogen is depleted, hop on the cardio machine. Go hard for 10-15 minutes, because when there is no more stored glycogen, your body immediately turns to fat burning. This is exactly why doing cardio in the morning prior to a meal burns more fat.
5. Follow 23.5 hours a day
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, watch the video posted below.