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Should You Still Make New Year’s Resolutions

Should You Still Make New Year’s Resolutions

Most articles on making healthy New Year’s resolutions will tell you not to waste your time. Let me show you how they actually may serve a good purpose whether you follow through on it or not, and how to make them truly effective.

Health & Wellness Is All Around You

Once that calendar flips over to a new year, there is no ignoring the usual desires that come with it. Lose weight, stop smoking, eat better, spend less on macrame jean shorts. Ok, that last one might just be me.

But here’s the thing: the stats are not on the side of actually following through on your new resolution. There is a very small percentage of people that are able to follow through on complete life overhauls but they are in the minority, like people who watch Keeping Up With The Kardashians to improve IQ scores.

Just because the failure rate on New Year’s resolutions is high, doesn’t mean they should be chucked to the curb like your withering Christmas tree. There are a few mindset changes you can make to have healthy New Year’s resolutions become more effective.

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1. Whether You Like it or Not, it’s a Reminder to Get Your Butt in Gear

For as much as people say it’s a waste of time to start improving your nutrition or joining a gym in January because it will fizzle out, I don’t think that’s the case. At the very least it serves as a reminder for you to take control of your health each year. Even if it’s only once a year, it’s like a little nagging reminder that you should move things in a healthier direction. If you don’t acknowledge it in January, the thought might still pop up a few months later.

Sometimes, there just needs to be something in the back of your head telling you to make some good changes. This might go on for a few years, but there can also be that year where you are totally ready and it all finally clicks in.

The point is to make that year THIS year.

2. You Are Allowed To Start Small

This is what is truly behind all the failure rate stats: people taking on too much, too soon. If you’ve gone from eating Taco Bell three times a day and your physical activity revolves around clicking the “Are you still there” button on Netflix, you’re going to need to start small. Diving head first into 3-hour workouts and eating rice cakes and broccoli all day is going to become a huge shock to your system. This could overwhelm you and eventually lead to you throwing in the towel.

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No matter what your goals are, the secret is to start small and slowly add in good habits. You can build a healthy lifestyle by mastering a new habit until it becomes second nature. This means starting with something simple and doing it for at least a week or two so it’s familiar. Then you can move on to another one. It’s gradual, comfortable, and you’re more likely to stick with it.

Here are 3 health habits to start out with that are simple but effective.

1. Slow Down Your Time Spent Eating

This doesn’t even require changing what you eat but can help you avoid overeating each day. The average person is eating so fast that they are overriding the fullness signals that go from your stomach to your brain saying you’ve had enough. These naturally occur but take around 15-20 minutes to engage. Most people are eating in 3-5 minutes, sometimes quicker, and don’t allow this natural mechanism to do its job.

You may have had enough food, but your body hasn’t recognized that yet. When that happens, you continue to consume more calories than needed. So whenever you eat, be conscious of the time. Set up the timer on your phone or watch a clock and take at least 15 minutes. This can help you consume less each time and also make digestion and absorption easier for you.

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2. Drink More Water Each Day

Most people are walking around in dehydrated or close to dehydrated states. It’s not always recognizable because dehydration doesn’t only mean crawling through a desert in rags. The problem is this: if you’re not getting adequate water, then you’re throwing your body out of whack. Among other things water is critical for:

  • Digestion
  • Absorption
  • Circulation
  • Regulation of body temperature
  • Cognitive function
  • Transport of nutrients through the body
  • Sports and exercise performance

Your aim is to drink about half your body weight in ounces each day. So if you’re 150 pounds that’s 75 ounces of water. When you figure in a cup of water being 8oz, that equals around 9 cups a day. Since most large drinking glasses can hold close to two cups, you’re at around 4-5 large glasses a day, which is very doable. Another tip I’d give you is to have a glass or two first thing when you wake up to get your body up to speed quicker. Throw in some squeezed lemon and it really kicks up the cleansing and detoxification.

3. Eliminate Or Drastically Reduce Sugar

Now you’re looking at a real change. If you’re like the average person, you’re consuming far too much sugar and sugar is really getting exposed for all the damage it can do. The ‘big three’ dangerous health risks in the United States are obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, all of which are associated with too much sugar consumption. It’s not hard to see that it is something that needs to be eliminated.

I won’t lie, it won’t be easy thanks to the addictive nature of sugar and the fact it’s pretty much everywhere. If you can start cutting out manufactured and processed foods, that will be the best start as that’s where sugar is going to show up. If there’s one thing you do, at least cut out liquid sugar. Don’t drink your calories. That means eliminating soft drinks, juices, and sports drinks. Just this alone can make a huge difference to your health.

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Wrapping It Up

Obviously, your health and wellness go a lot deeper than these three tips. However, if you’re looking to make a change, this is a good place to start. These are tips that aren’t overwhelming, rather they are straightforward and easy to implement. Like I mentioned, don’t do everything at once. Start out with one and go with it for a few weeks until it feels comfortable. Then, move on to another.

If you let yourself gradually adopt new healthy habits every few weeks, by the end of the year you may be looking at a complete overhaul to your health and wellness. So when that calendar flips for the next January, you’ll already be ahead of the game.

Featured photo credit: Paul Wilkinson via flickr.com

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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

Video Summary

Why is it important to train up our core strength?

There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

One Exercise, multiple benefits

There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

What will happen when you start doing planks every day

    1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

    Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

    • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
    • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
    • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
    • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

    2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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      Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

      Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

      3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

        Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

        4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

          Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

          A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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          A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

          On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

          5. You’ll improve overall balance

            Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

            6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

              Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

              7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                How to hold a plank position

                1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                  How to improve your plank time gradually

                  1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                  2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                  3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                  Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                  Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                  You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                  • Prolapse
                  • After prolapse surgery
                  • Pelvic pain conditions
                  • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                  • Previous childbirth
                  • Overweight

                  Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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