The new year is quickly coming and along with that many people make New Year’s resolutions. At the top of that list usually is to get into better shape. If you are one of those people, this article is for you. Many people begin the new year with a gym membership, not knowing where to start and quickly losing motivation, or with a garage full of equipment they don’t need or don’t know how to use. Forget all that mess. You don’t need it!
More important then a gym membership or fancy equipment would be a clear and concise plan. The saying that “abs are made in the kitchen” is one of the most pivotal statements when it comes to health and fitness. If you are serious about getting in shape then be ready to commit to a lifestyle change. Though it can be jarring at first, you don’t have to live a life void of fun or excitement, or cake or pizza. Following the next hottest fad diet will only leave you feeling defeated and deprived when moderation and variety is really the key. You don’t even need 100% in the kitchen. Shoot for a solid 75% of making good eating choices. If you don’t have your own idea of what good eating choices are, here would be my basic guide in layman’s terms.
Sugar is bad, fat is good. Gluten is ok, not too much. Drop the soda. Enjoy coffee and tea. Choose healthy grains, but eat mostly vegetables. Fruit makes a good dessert, but occasionally eat the pie. One slice of pie, not two. Olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil are good, cheap oils suck. Eat almond butter. Never eat artificial sweeteners, colors or flavorings. Eat more bacon. Grass-fed is the way to go when it comes to meat. Bison is tasty. Eat eggs, the whole egg. Have fish tacos for dinner. Enjoy full fat dairy in moderation. Organic tastes better, and add lots of spices. Question everything, do your own research and don’t deprive yourself! Enjoy eating!
That’s it. There is no magic bullet, and if there was, it could be summed up by this statement: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”
A few smart changes here and there, some understanding of moderation, and dedication to a little bit of working out can make all the difference in you making good on your New Year’s resolution and not canceling your gym membership the second week of January, unless you decide it’s time to leave the sweaty gym, and enjoy some functional fitness.
Again, diet is the biggest part. I don’t mean going on a diet, I mean diet as in what you eat.
Notes on diet: though I’m no dietician, doctor or even an expert, my knowledge is based on experience, research and common sense. Here are my top three diet tips:
1. Drop the soda, drop the beer, at least on weekdays, and moderate on the weekend. Soda is nothing but a high calorie liquid sugar dispersion and the diet sodas are no better. Beer, for guys is liquid estrogen, empty calories and a vehicle to make you want to eat an entire stuffed crust pizza at 3am. If you don’t cut em’ out entirely and replace them with water, coffee (black or bulletproof) or tea, then try to limit them to weekends in moderation. There are healthier choices when it comes to beer, wine, spirits and even soda, so make those if you must indulge.
2. No carb is fast track to failure. This is still, for some reason, the hottest trend. Humans are evolutionarily designed to have variety in their diet, and that being said, not all carbs are equal! Eliminating carbs and trying to eat like a cave-person certainly is a hot fad, but it’s only halfway sound. There are good carbs, bad carbs, neutral carbs and so on. True that the typical American eats too many processed, white flour type carbs, but unless you want to spend an hour on the toilet, consider the positives of carbs before you omit them entirely. Whole grains, wild rice, gluten free breads, it’s a lifestyle change not a punishment or lesson in deprivation.
3. Fat doesn’t make you fat. Well then what does? you might ask. Eating too much food and living a sedentary lifestyle. New scientific evidence shows just how good fat can be for you and how vital it is to our bodies. The chemicals, artificial sweeteners, and franken-foods in those low fat and no-fat foods aren’t even edible as far as I am concerned. You are doing more harm than good. In general, if you see “low fat”, leave it on the shelf.
Notes on exercise: I don’t have a lot of time, and I don’t think it is necessary to spend hours in a gym sweating just to be fit. I try and mix things up and enjoy moderate physical activity most days, peppered with some cardio and weight training through out. It’s a more realistic approach and makes exercising part of your life instead of something you dread.
My favorite workouts:
1. Hiking, biking, swimming, dancing, skateboarding, rollerskating, yoga, are all great physical activities, but I wouldn’t consider them a workout until you really up the intensity. I like to take long hikes, bike fast, swim against a current, do aerobic type dance moves, skateboard hard, and roller-skate a few miles. It’s the intensity that can make anything a workout. Instead of working on your jump shots next time you play basketball, make sure you hustle for the rebounds, then stick the layup before running back to half court again.
2. Playground workouts. I don’t have a lot of time to workout, but I do have a lot of time to go to the playground with my kid. Funny how that works right? Playgrounds are the perfect arena for bodyweight exercises. Pull-ups, squats, pushups and playing tag are all great exercises that you can do on the playground.
3. I have experimented with weights for a while, and experimented with having very little space as well. As far as bodyweight exercises, we have our own favorites you can view here. Bodyweight exercises require no equipment, but can be extremely challenging. If you decide you’d like to use some weights, I have found nothing that is quite as versatile as the dumbbell. One of my favorite pieces of equipment, there are a myriad of exercises you can do with a dumbbell. One of my favorite would have to be the dumbbell snatch. Do as many as you can, alternating arms for five minutes. Take a minute long break and do for four minutes. In ten minutes or less you can have hammered out some serious exercise and you will feel it for sure.
How to do a dumbbell snatch: Grab a dumbbell with an overhand grip.Bend at your hips and knees to squat down until the weight is centered between your feet, your arm straight.Your lower back should be slightly archedDrive your heels into the floor. Your feet should be slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.How to do a dumbbell pushup and row: Place a pair of hex dumbbells at the spot where you position your hands. Grasp the dumbbell handles and set yourself in pushup position. Lower your body to the floor, pause, then push yourself back up. Once you’re back in the starting position, row the dumbbell in your right hand to the side of your chest, by pulling it upward and bending your arm. Pause, then lower the dumbbell back down, and repeat the same movement with your left arm. That’s one repetition.
Well, if you were looking for motivation, a place to start and someone to tell you to get off your butt, consider this your sign. I have become so passionate about fitness ever since I started and diet (not dieting) and exercise have really become my passion. I am excited to share it with you, and excited to let you know it isn’t as hard as it looks. It’s the journey, not the destination. You are worth it and besides exercising making you look good, you will feel good as well. Good luck on that new years resolution!