7 helpful rules for getting lean in 2017
For 2017, over half of us will make New Year's resolutions to do things like lose weight, get fit, and eat healthier. But how many actually make it past January? The brutal truth is only eight percent will achieve their goals, which means there needs to be a better way to keep resolutions.
Crushing those first 17 days of the new year is critical to build momentum and generate success. Follow these fitness rules, which guarantee success and create mini-goals for January 17 to keep you on track and accountable. With this plan, you'll keep getting results long after the "New Year, New You" bandwagon disappears.
Rule 1: Consistency Beats Everything
Once it hits January 1, people often dive in headfirst: "From now on, I'm going to exercise every day, go Paleo, and stop drinking." But that isn't sustainable. Instead, commit to less so you can build consistency and create new habits over the first 17 days. Then, add more.
17-Day Goal: Commit to only three to four workouts per week and aim for 90+ percent adherence.
Rule 2: Eat Protein and Veggies with Every Meal
Diets are a pain in the ass. You have to buy a ton of new groceries, cook a lot, and try to make bland things taste edible—by January 17, you're ready for a pizza buffet.
Here's an easier way: Do what you're already doing and just focus on portion control. Emphasize protein with every meal—to build muscle, stay full, and burn more fat—as well as vegetables to get the vitamins, minerals, and fiber you need for good health.
17-Day Goal: Eat two palm-sized pieces of protein and two fist-sized portions of veggies with every meal. Aim for 80+ percent adherence.
Rule 3: Do Cardio
I'm about to blow your mind: To start the New Year, avoid interval training and use that slow cardio everyone hates (i.e. 130 to 150 heartbeats per minute for 30 to 60 minutes). Too much high-intensity stuff too quickly will batter your joints and exhaust you; aerobic exercise, however, will boost your heart, your brain, your recovery, your stress tolerance, and your overall conditioning without the labral tears.
17-Day Goal: Do 30 to 45 minutes of steady-state aerobic cardio at least one time per week.
Rule 4: Get Stronger
For the first 17 days of 2017, ditch bicep curls and use exercises that actually change your body: squats, lunges, presses, rows, deadlifts, and pullups. But don't just use the same weight; add 2.5 to five pounds to each exercise every time you workout. This will stress your muscles so they adapt and get bigger.
17-Day Goal: Add 10+ percent to all your exercises.
Rule 5: Earn Your Carbs
Don't start 2017 by annihilating all carbs—you'll burn out. You need carbs to refuel your muscles after a hard workout and to regulate a hormone called "leptin" that controls your metabolism.
Here's a better trick: Eat carbs only when you train enough to need the energy. One hour in the gym? Go ahead. Sixteen hours on your ass? I don't think so.
17-Day Goal: In the meals before and after your workout, eat two fist-sized portions of healthy carbs like whole grains, potatoes, quinoa, rice, and fruit.
Rule 6: Get Eight Hours of Good Sleep Each Night
Sleep is when your body recovers and regenerates. Crappy sleep, however, kills your results, even if you exercise eight times a week and measure your food with a triple-beam scale. Fitness aside, this one rule could actually change your life.
17-Day Goal: Sleep eight hours at least five nights a week. Also, stop using all electronics, which interfere with your circadian rhythm, one hour before bed.
Rule 7: Destress
Daily stress from work, bills, and the 405 doesn't just raise your blood pressure; it also floods your body with stress hormones, which slows muscle gain, limits fat loss, and squashes performance in the gym (and the bedroom).
Overcome the first 17 days of 2017 by taking just a few minutes each day to meditate and beat the stress. Your body will thank you.
17-Day Goal: Spend 10 minutes every day to close your eyes and relax. Meditate, take a catnap, or do breathing exercises—they all help.