Some people try to take on too much when implementing their New Year’s fitness resolutions. Best intentions invariably end in burn out. We have compiled a list of small changes that yield big results no matter what time of year.
1. Because sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on metabolism, shoot for seven to eight hours of shuteye every night. Ease into reaching seven to eight hours by going to bed 10 minutes earlier each night.
2. Restrict guilty pleasures, like your favorite music or TV show, to the gym. It will motivate you to work out more often.
3. Drink more water. Being dehydrated can fool your body into feeling hungry. To make H20 less boring, add cucumber slices, mint, or a squeeze of citrus fruit.
4. Add protein to your breakfast to fend off mid-morning cravings for high-fat and high-sugar food.
5. Before starting a new training program, invest in a new piece of gear. Putting money on the line will motivate you to follow through.
6. Snack on a handful of nuts. Whatever variety you choose, scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove, that eating 1.5 oz. per day of most nuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.
7. Include beans, peas, chickpeas or lentils in your lunch to fend off a trip to the vending machine. One daily serving of these slowly digested foods increases feelings of fullness.
8. Measure your waist circumference just above the hip. If it’s less than 50 percent of your height, you are in a healthy range – a much more accurate indicator of general health than BMI.
9. Lay out all your clothes the night before a workout. It mentally commits you to getting out the door the next morning.
10. Take a five-minute stroll every hour to counteract the health risks from sitting. Walking boosts blood flow preventing arterial damage, according a study in the Journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
11. Revamp your workout playlist. Bass-heavy beats embolden listeners and make them feel more powerful.
12. Don’t watch dramatic, action-packed TV or movies while you eat. You’ll take in more calories.
13. To burn more calories in less time, try high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
14. Pack your lunch instead of going to a restaurant. A study from Public Health Nutrition says you’ll save 200 calories a day from cooking at home.
15. Squeeze in some mileage before you sit down at your desk–get off a subway stop earlier, or take the parking spot that’s farthest away from your workplace.
16. Do a dynamic warmup–moves that mimic those in your workout–versus static stretching to prevent injury and boost athletic performance.
17. Substitute sugar with a natural, low-calorie sweetener like monk fruit.
18. Use a smaller dinner plate–it’ll limit how much you can pile on.
19. Use a blue dinner plate. Studies show the color has an appetite-suppressing effect (as opposed to red and yellow plates).
20. Whether you’re going up or down, take the stairs instead of using the elevator.
21. Download a food-tracking app to get a reality check about how many calories you’re taking in on a given day.
22. Get off the couch. Do quick sets of push-ups, sit-ups, or jumping jacks during commercial breaks.
23. Strap on a pedometer or fitness-tracking wristband and strive for at least 10,000 steps, or 5 miles, daily.
24. If you’re going someplace that’s less than a mile away, walk instead of drive.
25. Fast eaters don’t allow their stomach to realize how much they’ve eaten. Set your fork down in between bites.
26. Eat more avocados; they’re loaded with good types of fat that help the body absorb disease-preventing antioxidants.
27. Make your 9-5 less sedentary. Ask your employer about a standing work station.
28. Do yoga to beat stress, build muscle, and prevent workout injuries.
29. Wait 20 minutes before serving yourself seconds.
30. Sub in nonfat Greek yogurt for mayo and sour cream–you’ll save 70 and 100 calories per half-cup, respectively.
31. Batch cook lean protein when you have more time on the weekend. It will save you time while encouraging you to eat healthier at home.
32. Choose elliptical with handles. You’ll recruit muscles in your arms and burn more calories overall.
33. Substitute zucchini, carrots, spaghetti squash, or cauliflower for pasta noodles.
34. Look for these keywords on restaurant menus: grilled, baked, steamed, roasted, and marinara.
35. Keep your body guessing. Swap out your old program for a new one every four to six weeks.
36. Squat heavy. The more muscles you can recruit with proper form, the stronger you’ll get, and the more fat you’ll burn.
37. Clean out your kitchen. Remove temptation at home and you’re much more likely to stick to a healthy-eating plan.
38. Stay on the perimeter of the grocery store when you shop, it’s where all the healthy foods are and will keep you away from the junk deep in the aisles.
39. Do burpees. They’re a compound exercise that works nearly every muscle in the body.
40. Manage your time wisely. Studies show that stress triggers the hormone cortisol to turn up your appetite.
41. Use herbs and spices to add intense, zero-calorie flavor to food.
42. If you’re going to indulge in junk food, do it after a workout when your body’s working to restock muscles’ glycogen stores.
43. For a healthier gut, fill up on probiotic-rich foods like kefir, yogurt, kimchi, and miso.
44. Not a salad person? Get your greens in smoothie form. Toss handfuls of spinach or kale into your favorite blended drink recipe.
45. Walk or run at a 10 % incline on a treadmill. It burns more calories and improves your maximal aerobic capacity almost twice as fast as level training, according to the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
46. Drink black coffee before workouts instead of sugar-laden energy drinks.
47. Keep your carbs healthy. White bread and pasta spike blood sugar and burn away quickly, sapping energy as they go. Whole-grain foods provide longer-lasting fuel. Opt for barley, buckwheat, and bulgur over white rice.
48. Plan ahead: Research shows that those who prep their meals in advance have healthier diets than those who spend little time in the kitchen.
49. Keep a training diary. You’ll easily track your progress and feel more inclined to keep up with workouts.
50. Brush and floss your teeth after you eat dinner so you’re less likely to snack throughout the night.
51. Eat oatmeal. The whole-grain breakfast helps maintain blood sugar levels, so you feel fuller longer.
52. Loosen up. Foam rolling, a type of deep-tissue work, unknots tight muscles, helps relieve pain, improves flexibility, and increases range of motion.
53. Focus on compound movements. Exercises such as power cleans, overhead presses, and deadlifts recruit more muscles, so more muscle can be grained.
54. Buddy up. Training with a partner or in a group creates a competitive environment, facilitates a get-it-done attitude, and boosts accountability.
55. Get in gear. Keep a workout outfit, including sneakers, at your desk so you’ll never have an excuse to skip an after-work or lunchtime workout.
56. Pre-pay for workout classes, if you have the option. You’ll be less likely to cancel if you’ve already shelled out the cash.
57. Hitting the treadmill? Turn your body into a fat-fighting furnace by opting for intervals (alternate sprints with jogs) over steady-state cardio.
58. Short on time? Organize your workout circuit-style. Perform one exercise after another with little to no rest in between.
59. Schedule daily exercise in your calendar like an appointment.
60. When dining out, decline the complementary bread or chips and salsa that come before your meal. If you didn’t order it, then you shouldn’t eat it!
61. When it comes to sneakers, one size doesn’t fit all. Have an expert evaluate your stride and help you pick the perfect pair for your routine and foot type, which will maximize your performance and prevent injury.
62. In a fitness rut? Challenge your body by changing things up, like creating mini-challenges every time you exercise, reordering your circuit or shortening your rest time between sets.
63. Prevent injury and maximize every minute of your workout by performing exercises correctly. Ask a personal trainer for help or find instructional videos online to ensure proper form.
64. Match your music to your workout! For a moderate workout, choose songs between 120-140 BPMs. For a more intense workout, shoot for 160+ BPM.
65. Don’t be afraid to add more weight. On your last set, add enough extra weight to completely fatigue your muscles. You’ll add lean, fat-burning muscle mass to your frame.
66. When you’re in the homestretch of a workout, don’t ease up. Crank that resistance up or pick up your pace for the last minute–a strong finish can significantly boost your stamina.
67. Always end your workout with a 10-minute stretch. Flexibility exercises can help maintain circulation around the joints, keeping muscles healthy where they’re most apt to get injured.
68. Save dozens of calories in your salad by opting for fresh fruit instead of sweetened dried fruit and choosing light vinaigrette or vinegar as the dressing.
69. Measure your snacks out instead of eating from the bag. Or buy single-serving packages of foods like almonds.
70. Late-night snacking can cause sleep and digestion issues that make it hard to stick to a healthy routine. Eat your last bite 2-3 hours prior to bedtime and keep your dinner at 25% of your daily caloric intake.
71. Swap hands. A study at USC showed that people who ate with their non-dominant hand ate 30% less.
72. Power down your devices (smartphone, tablet) two hours before bedtime. Disconnecting will help your brain relax so you’ll fall asleep faster.
73. Nix the nightcap. Alcohol prevents your body from entering REM sleep (the most restful sleep phase). So, even if you’re getting plenty of sleep each night, you may not feel fully rested.
74. Avoid trans fats. Foods like doughnuts, crackers, and chips made with trans fats raise levels of bad LDL cholesterol in the body. This narrows blood vessels, blocking the flow of oxygenated, energy-rich blood cells throughout the body.
75. Tap into meditation. Shutting your brain off for 10 to 20 minutes a day has a range of benefits, from stress reduction and weight loss to increased energy and enhanced sleep. It could be your most powerful prescription to date.