The Key to New Year’s Success

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It’s that time of year again. After binging on great food during the holidays, it’s time to get your eating habits back under control, and hopefully undo some of that seasonal damage. Now is the time when people resolve to lose some weight and start a healthy new lifestyle, and most of those people will give up within a week. It’s not because they don’t have it within them to succeed, it’s because they start off their new plan so badly that they set themselves up to fail.

As far as your body is concerned, weight loss is a sign that you are starving to death, so it will kick in all manner of subconscious and hormonal defense mechanisms to prevent you from shedding pounds. If you know what to expect, you’ll be able to monitor your subconscious impulses and keep them in check, but you still need a proper plan if you want to succeed.

If you think that willpower alone will enable you to suffer through a bad diet and exercise plan, you’ll never make it. Willpower has it’s limits, and while you will need to exercise a little self-control, aiming for total denial and misery will just make you give up quickly. Healthy eating and exercise isn’t bad at all if you do it right. However, if you punish yourself with the wrong plan, you’ll stop as soon as you can. That’s just human nature.

I’ve already written quite a few articles with weight loss and exercise advice, so I’ve referenced a handy list of tips below. There are not only diet tips, but suggestions on how to arrange your workout plan to maximize results. Seeing no success on the scale can also lead to a frustrating end to your new plan, and I want to make sure you have all the tools you need to see results early and often.

Diet Advice

  • Pick food you actually like: People assume the food they like made them fat, so they must eat food they hate to get thin. All this will do is make you miserable. Food is a joy. You don’t need to deny yourself all joy, just substitute some unhealthy choices for healthy ones, and continue to enjoy what you eat.

  • Cut out refined sugar: This is perhaps the single most important thing you need to learn in order to lose weight. You could also check out the Truth About Diets series to understand the biology of what makes you gain weight and how to lose it.

  • Ditch the soda and sports drinks: Sugar is bad, but liquid sugar is the worst. You can consume hundreds of calories of beverages and still feel hungry. In fact, it will increase your appetite soon after. Fortunately, studies have found that liquid calories are the easiest to remove from your diet without making you feel hungry. It’s the simplest way to make a huge difference. If you’re a soda fan, switching to diet soda is a good first step, but don’t do it for too long.

  • Don’t just cut out fat, replace it with healthy fat: To lose fat you need to control your appetite and fat is great for managing satiety (the feeling of fullness after you eat). Some fats even make you less likely to store body fat. Eating the right fats will actually make you lean.

  • Increase your protein intake: Keeping your protein intake above 20% of your total calories is crucial for keeping your metabolism up as you diet. It will also prevent your body from digesting your own muscle tissue as you lose weight.

  • Don’t track calories, track food: I’m a believer that you need to track what you eat to see what you need to change, but the majority of people do a pretty poor job of correctly estimating their calories. This leads to more problems than it solves. We ultimately know the difference between a good meal and a bad one, so just track that and you’ll see results.

  • Eat as many fruits and vegetables as you want: The worst thing you can do is try and starve yourself. Deprivation leads to a quick end to any diet, so don’t eliminate all food, replace the bad stuff with a ton of good stuff. It will fill you up without making a dent in the calories that actually make it into your body.

  • Don’t undo your workouts with extra food: Women fall victim to this more than men, but it can effect anyone. Burning hundreds of calories during a workout can cause you to subconsciously increase your intake. A few extra bites of a meal here and an extra snack there can quickly replace everything you burned (and then some). Keep track of your intake in a journal or our GO tracking app, fill up on fruits and vegetables to control hunger, and keep your workouts short and intense in the beginning to curb your appetite rather than increase it.

Exercise

  • Start with short but intense workouts and build up: High intensity interval training (HIIT) offers many benefits over conventional training. You may not burn as many calories as you would with a slower paced, yet longer workout, but even if you exercise for an hour, it’s a small part of your day. HIIT causes metabolic and hormonal changes in your body that will help you burn extra fat all day long.

  • Split your workouts if you can’t squeeze it all in at once: Multiple short bursts of exercise can actually be more effective at burning fat than a single session, even if the total calories burned is identical. If you don’t have time to hit the gym, use our apps to fit in short workouts at home whenever you have a few free minutes.

  • Fasted training burns more fat: I get the question all the time if it’s bad to workout on an empty stomach or not. The short answer is that it’s actually ideal for fat loss. Your body will turn to stored fat sooner into your workout on an empty stomach, plus it improves your insulin sensitivity throughout the day so you’re less likely to gain weight when you do eat.

  • Weight training first, cardio second: Much like with fasted training, lifting first and then doing cardio helps you burn more fat. Resistance training does a good job of mobilizing fat (releasing stored fat from fat cells into the bloodstream), but it is terrible at burning it. Lift weights first to mobilize your stored fat, and then do cardio to burn it up before it can be stored again.

  • Pick workouts you like: Just like how you’ll quit dieting if you hate your diet food, you’ll stop exercising if you hate your workouts. Not only that, but studies have found that when people don’t like their workouts, they tend to move less the rest of the day and eat more fattening foods later to reward themselves for enduring something awful. Studies have shown people prefer and enjoy HIIT workouts and are more likely to stick with them long-term, and that’s ultimately the key to hitting your goal.

  • Keep moving all day: This is another little subconscious trick your body does to you to prevent weight loss. People that burn a lot of calories during a workout tend to fall victim to Non-Volitional Exercise-Induced Inactivity later in the day. That’s just a fancy way of saying you sit around later to compensate for moving around so much earlier. Monitor your movement with a step counter or our GO tracking app before you start your routine to see how much you normally move and make an effort to keep moving after you start working out.

There is plenty here to help you get off to a good start, but I’m also happy to help with any questions you may have. You can post comments here if you think others would benefit from the answers or you can email me directly at chris@lolofit.com. It’s a busy time of year so I’ll get back to you as fast as I can, but sometimes it can take a few days.

Candace M

I would love to hear your thoughts on the benefits or disadvantages of yoga.

Chris trainer Chris K

I’ve written a few newsletter articles about it back before the blog when we would just email. I’ll have to compile some of my thoughts on that and post a new article. Thanks for the suggestion.

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