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10 ways to keep your new year’s resolution weight loss plan!

10 ways to keep your new year’s resolution weight loss plan!

Well, you finally made it to 2016, and like most of us, you probably started a new year’s resolution! A new year’s resolution is a great way to improve you and your life. But like everything in life, change isn’t easy, and weight loss goals are even harder. Remember, they don’t have to be! Here are ten ways to help you keep that weight off and keep yourself in good shape!

1. Stay away from the weight scale and measurements.

Let’s face it. When you start to lose weight, unless you are taking progress photos you never SEE a difference, you only feel a difference. Yes you may step on the scale, but most people make the mistake of stepping on it every day or every week. You should keep the weight scale to a minimum, as feeling good is the first step to any successful adventure. Stop caring what you look like, that will come in time. Instead, pay attention to how you feel. Do you feel better after every workout? How do you feel after eating healthier? I can tell you after the first few weeks of working out your body will feel better, you will have more energy, your brain will open up, and you will no longer feel “cloudy,” and the list goes on and on!

2. Don’t go cold turkey.

Cold turkey is nice, it’s even better slapped between two pieces of bread and a piece of lettuce (no mayo, mayo is bad)! But let’s be real, sometimes you may want some mayo, or you may want that cheeseburger. So eat it! Plan for cheat meals, and keep the portions consistent. For example, if on a normal day you have one hundred grams of rice, some veggies, and one hundred grams of lean chicken, just ensure when you have your cheat meal it’s proportionate. Cheat meals are okay. Disproportionate meals are NOT okay! But remember to keep the cheat meals to a minimum (1- 2 times a week)!

3. Eat before grocery shopping.

Studies show that when you’re surrounded by food, and you haven’t eaten you are more inclined to crave food, want food and buy food. Is that surprising? No. Did they need a study; perhaps not? But the fact is this; if you don’t buy unhealthy things, you can’t eat them. Cheat days are okay, snacks are not. So next time you go shopping make sure it’s on a full stomach, it will make it that much easier to walk by the muffins, cookies, and cake, or the fresh smell of cooked pizza and breaded chicken.

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4. Break your days into six meals.

When I hired a health expert I was advised to eat six meals a day. At first I was shocked, I was surprised with the amount of food I was told to consume. The idea was simple; don’t count calories, count fat, sugars, proteins and carbohydrates. The difference between complex carbs and simple carbs, and the importance of proteins and sugars was explained to me. I won’t discuss these differences if you need more information on this stuff a simple Google search will answer your questions.

Anyway, with all this information I broke my day into six meals. One meal every three hours, with a portion of carbs 20-30g, and a portion of protein, 30-40gs and vegetables are free. By the end of the day I wasn’t complaining. Six meals a day actually allows you to eat more in a given day, but it allows your body to burn more efficiently. Think of yourself as a vehicle, when you’re hungry and you wait till lunch, or supper, you consume more because YOU’RE STARVING, and you’ve been running on empty!

But when you break your day into six meals, you eat less because most of the time you still feel “satisfied” so you’re just adding to the fuel. You are basically training your body to know that it doesn’t need to don’t worry, food is COMING. It makes it easier for your body to digest the food, and speeds up your metabolism. Most people think eating fewer calories is the way to lose weight, which is true. You must consume less calories, but eating healthy and eating a balanced meal six times a day allows your body to drop those pounds at a much more efficient rate.

5. Make it an activity, bring a friend, and get a Pre-Workout.

Sometimes going to the gym is hard, but this is a skill you will develop i.e., doing what you don’t want to do because you just got to do it. Some days you may not want to go to the gym, but if you have a friend who you go with you will be more inclined to go. Why? Because what evil person leaves their friend to walk through hell alone? (Just kidding, gym isn’t hell, it is heaven!).

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But in all seriousness, every once in a while time gets rough, you feel unmotivated, fat, unhealthy, maybe not strong enough, etc. It’s always good to have a friend to kick you in the butt and say “get your bum here now!” If you feel you need a little more than that, I suggest a pre-workout. People don’t usually recommend these because of the high caffeine content. But I just discovered one medium Starbucks coffee has 300mg of caffeine! That is more than one scoop of your average Pre-Workout!) So, when |I’m feeling tired, or sluggish, I use my Pre-Workout as a “if I take this I have to go!” mentality. However, if you take a Pre-Workout and don’t feel the effects, I recommend cutting out coffee and reducing your caffeine intake. Never go above 500mg of caffeine a day.

6. Make a workout journal.

Workout journals are great and everyday journals are better. Plan your meals, write down times and what you ate, etc. Not only will this help you keep track, but it will allow you to adjust your meals. Also, if you have a piece of pizza, or ice-cream write it down! At the end of the month when you go to do your weigh in you can look back at your meals, and portions (it helps if you use a weight scale for food too). Referencing your journal will allow you to see where you can cut back, what you need to work on and where to improve. Weight loss is a pretty simple variable; you must consume fewer calories than what your body needs. So if you see that your consuming 1500 calories a day, 240g of protein, and 180g of carbs, and only 5g of fat per day and have lost a total of three pounds over the course of a month (which is actually really good), then you may want to keep what you’re doing, and up the fitness intensity. If you find that you are losing too much weight too quickly (you should look to lose about 0.5-1lb of body fat a week) and you lost 10lbs at the end of the month, then you can increase your calorie intake. A journal removes the need for a guessing game. If you don’t guess, you can reach success!

7. Set realistic goals.

You may want to bench press 350lbs, squat 400lbs and run for 10km, that will happen in time, lots of time. These are good goals to have, but those are long-term goals. I’m talking years of weight lifting. So when you set a goal, make sure you set a goal that can be obtained in a reasonable amount of time i.e., run 5kms, do 20 pushups and don’t set a time limit, it will come when it comes!

Let’s say you aim to be able to do 20 push-ups without stopping, write it down in your journal from #6 and bring it everywhere you go. When you do your fitness workouts, write down your weights, and remember this, DON’T aim for weight, aim for good form. Knowledge is success, and you can waste your time doing exercises wrong, and you can HURT YOURSELF. Injuries are no joke, and can lead to long term problems and ongoing issues. If you want a free workout, head to www.bodybuilding.com. They have hundreds of videos that show you proper form and the correct way to do exercises. In my gym there is a little motto “Don’t train harder, train smarter.” and remember this… goals are for you and only you. So don’t cheat at the gym, don’t try to impress, go to the gym and focus on you. Focus on your goals and your aspirations, and focus on why YOU’RE there. You’re there to improve you, and to smash those goals into oblivion

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8. Throw out all those big plates and over sized cups.

Believe it or not, your eyes play a big part of food consumption. That old saying, “are your eyes bigger than your belly?” holds weight. If you eat off big plates and drink from larger glasses, you will find yourself eating more before feeling satisfied. If you limit yourself to small plates, and small glasses you will eat less but feel fuller.

9. No processed foods.

Do you ever crave a pizza, a microwave dinner, perhaps a Kraft Dinner? STAY AWAY!! Processed foods are never good for you. Firstly, all those unreadable ingredients are hard on your body’s digestion system. A little saying goes a long way… “If you can’t read it don’t eat it!” I’m not saying don’t eat that pizza, don’t have Kraft Dinner; I’m saying make your own Kraft Dinner or your own pizza (from scratch) and if you don’t have time, please step away from the microwave dinners. Anything frozen and packaged to be microwaved is the worst thing for you. They are always high in fat, sodium and other preservatives.

10. Join a community.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you this isn’t hard. There will be times when you feel like you’re in a rut, and your body will be screaming to have cheat foods. Those skills take time to develop and old habits to break, just remember this; you’re not alone. I suggest you join a forum based community to help push you along, to post photos of your adventure, and to share your challenges and success stories with others. Once again a good website to visit is www.bodybuilding.com. They have a great community and tons of educational resources.

Remember this… Knowledge = success. The more you know the more places you’ll go!

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Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Published on July 18, 2019

11 Best Core Strengthening Exercises to Do At Home

11 Best Core Strengthening Exercises to Do At Home

No matter where you are in your fitness journey, chances are you wouldn’t mind a little more definition in your midsection.

Whether you have a six pack or a beer belly, those abs could probably be a little bit sharper. Not to mention developing better core strength is hugely important when it comes to improving your overall strength and athleticism, as well as protecting you from injuries.[1]

The good news? Your abs and core muscles can handle a lot of training.

While most of your muscle groups do best with just two training sessions per week,[2] you can hit your abs every other day to great effect. You don’t even have to leave the house!

Here’s my guide to the 11 best core strengthening exercises you can do at home with no equipment.

1. Planks

Let’s start with the mother of all core-strengtheners, the plank.

Planks not only work your abs and obliques, they challenge those core muscles deep inside your body that help promote stability and power. They can also reduce back pain and improve your balance and posture.

Get down into pushup position, feet behind you, hands under your shoulders. Lock out your arms and legs, squeeze your core muscles, and hold your body stiff (like a plank!) for as long as you can.

For a more challenging variation, try a forearm plank with your arms out in front you. Lay your forearms on the ground for support, with your elbows under your face rather than aligned with your shoulders.

2. Side Planks

To hit your obliques even harder, try this challenging variation: the side plank.

From plank position, rotate onto one side. Prop yourself up on your elbow and one foot with your body straight and stiff.

Don’t forget to squeeze your core as you hold this position for as long as you can.

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Switch sides and repeat to avoid creating muscle imbalances.

3. Reverse Crunches

The regular stomach crunch is a fine exercise, but when it comes to abs and core strength, you’ll want to opt for moves that are a lot more challenging.

When you can crank out 50 crunches without a problem, it’s probably time for something new.

The reverse crunch packs a wallop for your lower abs and can be done anywhere, anytime, just like the standard crunch.

Lay on your back with knees bent in crunch position. Place your hands flat on the ground by your side and lift your pelvis, bringing your knees up toward your face, then back down again.

Engage your lower ab muscles to do the work, not your back. Repeat for a few sets of 12-20 reps.

4. Flutter Kicks

The lower abs are a problem area for a lot of people, so we’ll want to work them hard.

If that sounds like you, flutter kicks are just what the doctor ordered.

Lay flat on your back in leg raise position, hands at your sides or pressed into the floor. Raise your legs together about 6 inches off the floor, then alternate lowering one and raising one a few inches in rapid succession.

It should look like you’re kicking the air, and it should give you quite a burn in your abdominal area.

5. Arms High Sit-Ups

Imagine a crunch, but way harder!

Lay down on the ground in sit-up position, knees bent, feet flat on the floor in front of you.

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Raise your arms up to the sky and keep them elevated as you perform a few sets of sit-ups.

Engaging your arms in this way makes the move extraordinarily difficult and taxing. You’ll get a lot more mileage out of this move versus traditional crunches.

6. L-Sits

The L-Sit is outrageously difficult to perform well, but if you can build your strength here, the benefits are phenomenal.

To perform an L-Sit, you’ll need a stable surface to press off of. You can do them on the floor, but it’s a little easier if you can elevate yourself on a pair of dumbbells, two sturdy chairs, or a similar apparatus.

Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you. Lock your arms in place at your sides, palms on the ground or surface, and press. Bring your legs into the air, perpendicular to your upper body, using the tension from your locked arms.

Hold this position as long as possible for an intense strength building workout.

7. Stomach Vacuums

And now for something different!

It’s easy to work your front-facing abdominal muscles, but there is another muscle group in your core that’s frequently overlooked: The transverse abdominis.

This muscle isn’t visible through your skin, but it’s incredibly important in stabilizing your body, creating good posture, and holding your belly in tight to your spine.

To strengthen this muscle and get a flatter stomach, try stomach vacuums.[3]

Standing straight and tall. Exhale all of the air out of your body and simultaneously pull your belly in tight. Imagine sucking your belly button back into your spine.

You’ll feel the transverse abdominis engage. Hold as long as possible, rest and then repeat.

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8. Star Planks

Planks are too effective to not utilize multiple variations of them in your routine.

The star plank engaged similar muscles to the traditional plank, but is a lot harder to hold for time.

From the push-up or standard plank position, walk your feet out wide and your hands, as well.

Your body should form an X position. Elevate your core off the ground, squeeze tight, and hold for as long as possible.

9. Boat Pose

Yogis know all about core strength, so if you want a tighter tummy, you should take a page out of their playbook.

Boat pose is an extremely difficult isometric hold that builds exceptional balance and core power.

Star in sit-up position. Crunch yourself up toward your knees, then lift your feet off the floor until they’re about level with your face. Balance on your butt, squeeze your core, and hold this position as long as you can.

Your body should form a V with the only point of contact being your butt on the ground. Holding boat pose should be extraordinarily challenging!

10. Mountain Climbers

Ab work alone won’t shred stomach fat. But when you combine abs and cardio, that’s when you’re onto something magical.

Mountain climbers fit the bill if you’re looking to blast your core and also work up a good sweat.

Get down into plank position. With your arms locked and your body tight, drive one knee at a time off the floor, up toward your chest, and then back to its original position. Repeat in quick succession.

It should look like you’re climbing a hill, and it should exhaust you in a matter of seconds!

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11. Russian Twists

Finally, let’s give the obliques a little more love.

Get down into sit-up position and perform a crunch toward your knees. From here, lean back so your torso is at a 45 degree angle to the floor, clasp your hands in front of you, and twist side to side in rapid succession.

You’ll feel your obliques engage after just a few reps.

For a more difficult variation, lift your feet off the floor similar to boat pose while perform the move, or perform the twist using a heavy medicine ball for added resistance.

The Bottom Line

The biggest piece of the puzzle when it comes to six-pack abs is a low body fat percentage. That’s best accomplished by sticking to a smart diet and building your fully body strength.

However, if you want to improve your athleticism, overall strength, or even your longevity, you can afford to work your abs a bit more frequently — 3-4 times per week is perfect.

If you hit them hard enough, you’ll probably see some great improvement in definition as well!

Cranking out endless crunches is one way to go about core training, but there are so many better and more challenging moves you can try without ever having to leave your living room.

Give them a shot!

Featured photo credit: Luis Quintero via unsplash.com

Reference

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