It’s the time of the year where many of us are going to start anew. You might be sitting in front of your computer right now, frantically trying to learn how to lose weight, how to diet and where to get the best gym membership.
If you find yourself frantically searching for a new way to lose weight and get healthier, stop and take a moment to read this. There are plenty of things that you can do now to get a head start on your New Year’s resolutions and actually get lasting results.
Drink more water
Water is the source of all life — and we all know how important it is to stay hydrated. Did you know that staying properly hydrated can help boost your metabolism, and therefore help with weight loss? Drinking at least 120 ounces of water per day will rejuvenate your skin and help you lose those stubborn inches.
Eat starchy carbs before and after exercise
We all have that one friend who’s constantly on a low-carb diet. Many people don’t realize your body needs carbohydrates to build muscle, which burns fat. That does not mean you should go out and eat a loaf of bread, but incorporating some complex carbohydrates before and after exercise will help you get leaner and stronger, while remaining sane while you are on your journey to a fitter, healthier you.
Eat more to get lean
Contrary to popular opinion, eating more high-quality, high-fiber foods will help you fit better into the skinny jeans you’ve had your eye on. Try to eat every three to four hours. Every meal should incorporate a protein and a carbohydrate. Yes, that means if you are snacking on an apple — a carb — you should add some protein to your snack. Try drinking a whey protein drink with your snacks. Incorporating protein into every meal will boost your metabolism and help regulate insulin response, while more frequent meals will keep you full and out of the candy stash.
It’s OK to lift heavy
Many women have an irrational fear of lifting heavy. Somehow, someone decided if a woman lifts more than 12 pounds, she will instantly turn into a bodybuilder, develop a deep voice and start looking like a man. This cannot be further from the truth. In reality, women who lift heavy weights will look tighter and leaner. Simply put, while men can put on muscle mass fairly quickly, it takes women significantly more effort to develop the same level of musculature. Saying you are afraid of lifting heavy because you don’t want to end up looking like a man is like saying, “I don’t want to drive a car because I’m afraid of becoming a NASCAR driver.”
Lifting at least three times per week will not only help with weight loss, but it can also help improve bone density, core strength, spinal health and balance hormones, as well as help alleviate minor depression and anxiety. Try pairing a weight-training session with a short treadmill interval workout.
Sleep is key
Although proper nutrition and exercise are key to a healthy life, sleep has to be the third and most overlooked component. When we don’t get enough rest, the level of stress hormone cortisol rises in our bodies, driving us to store fat. Add that on top of the usual side effects of not being rested and you have a recipe for disaster.
Try going to bed at the same time every night, turn off all blue light-emitting devices — phones, tablets, TVs and other electronics — an hour before bedtime and try reading a book. Most people need at least eight hours of sleep per night to function at their best, although some can get away with less sleep.
Bonus: Rome was not built in a day
I’d like to caution you away from making large, all-encompassing changes in your life. If you are not use to dieting and exercising, start by making one small change per day or even per week and building on that foundation. Most diet and exercise regimens fail because they are unsustainable or too aggressive. However, if you approach fitness and healthy dieting with a long-term point of view, you will get stunning results that will last much longer than those of people going through crash diets and aggressive workout regimens.