5 ways to stick with your New Year's fitness resolutions

Published: Wednesday, December 27, 2017 @ 10:01 PM
Updated: Wednesday, December 27, 2017 @ 10:01 PM

Tips For Keeping Your New Year's Resolutions

Many people make fitness-related New Year's resolutions, only to see them fall by the wayside. It's why gyms are packed in January, but back to normal by April.

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How can you keep the momentum going throughout the year to achieve your goal of better health and/or weight loss?

These five tips will help you stick to your New Year's fitness resolutions:

Make one change at a time

It's easy to start off the New Year full of energy and grand plans, but starting small will give you a greater chance of success, according to the Mayo Clinic. Instead of planning an unrealistic workout schedule, aim for three days a week. Rather than swearing off all your favorite unhealthy treats, vow to limit them to a day or two a week.

As you succeed with smaller steps, these habits will soon become a routine that you can build on as you add new goals.

In this May 25, 2016 photo, members of the running group “November Project” run up and down the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial, in Washington. Fitness buffs around the country are bringing the ‘take the stairs’ advice to a whole new level as noteworthy landmarks have become unlikely, yet popular new workout sites. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Don't go it alone

CNN cites a study that showed social interaction makes people more likely to work out. Instead of going it alone, sign up for a fitness class, join a local running club, walk with a friend during lunch or hire a personal trainer. The social aspect will help keep you going, and you'll be less likely to bail on your plans to exercise.

Even if you don't have people to work out with, a virtual fitness community like those you can create with a FitBit can help you keep on track.

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Make it fun

Exercise doesn't have to be drudgery, positive psychology researcher Michelle Gielan told WebMD. Find a way to get fit that also lets you have fun, such as a dance class or other type of exercise that makes you feel happy. If you don't dread it, you'll be more likely to keep going.

Keep a food diary

Losing weight is a popular New Year's resolution. While no one strategy works for everyone, a food diary can be a helpful part of your success. Otherwise, it's easy to underestimate just how much you're eating, forgetting about that vending machine candy bar at work or the snack you had while watching TV.

One study found that people who kept a food diary lost more pounds than people who didn't, according to Business Insider. Consistency was key, whether you keep a printed diary or use an app to help.

Don't be too hard on yourself

It's unrealistic to think that you'll be perfect as you strive to attain your exercise or healthy eating goals, the American Psychological Association says.

Accept that you're going to have some ups and downs, and realize that what's important is getting back on track. Otherwise, a missed workout or two can derail you for the rest of the year.

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4 drinks that could be sabotaging your weight loss efforts

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 3:01 PM

The following four drinks are some that can sabotage your diet when you're trying to cut calories Juices Coffee with add-ins Alcohol Smoothies

When you're trying to lose weight, you may not give much thought to what you drink, but those calories definitely add up! These "liquid calories" can sabotage your weight-loss efforts, and you may not feel as full as if you'd eaten the same number of calories. Many drinks also provide little to no nutrients and are often loaded with sugar, which can further hamper your weight loss.

»RELATED: Drink up: Black tea helps you lose weight with gut bacteria, study says

These drinks – and their calories – may add up to more than you realize, even on a single day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offered a sample list of the drinks you may choose during a day in order to total the calories. They started with a morning coffee shop run with a 16-ounce café latte made with whole milk at 265 calories. A non-diet soda with lunch had 227 calories, and an afternoon sweetened lemon iced tea from the vending machine was 180 calories. A glass of non-diet ginger ale with dinner added 124 calories for a daily total of a whopping 796 calories!

The following four drinks are some that can sabotage your diet when you're trying to cut calories:

Orange juice prices could rise as much as $2.30 per gallon, because Hurricane Irma destroyed much of Florida's crop.

Juices

You may think that swapping out sugary sodas for fruit juices is good for your diet, but it may not be as good as you think. Fruit juices are concentrated sources of natural sugar, so they have more calories and don't fill you up as much as fresh, frozen or canned fruits do, according to the Mayo Clinic.

For example, a 20-ounce glass of 100 percent apple juice has 300 calories, and the same portion of 100 percent orange juice has 280, the CDC says.

»RELATED: It's official: Coffee is good for you, according to new research

Coffee

A plain black cup of coffee isn't a calorie problem, according to the Mayo Clinic. It contains fewer than five calories and no fat, but most people need at least a few extras with their coffee, and these also add extra calories.

Although at-home add-ins like creamer and sugar raise the calorie count, a specialty coffee can make it soar. A grande (16-ounce) size of white chocolate mocha espresso at Starbucks has 360 calories. If you choose a venti (20 ounces), you'll be drinking 460 calories.

The sidecar is a classic sour cocktail containing three ingredients: cognac, lemon juice and orange liqueur. CONTRIBUTED BY MARCEL(For the AJC)

Alcohol 

A few drinks after work with your friends or a couple of beers or glasses of wine with a meal can raise your calorie count.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously took a look at some of the calories contained in popular alcoholic beverages and found that five ounces of red wine has about 106 calories, and five ounces of white wine has 100 calories. A regular Budweiser beer comes in at 143 calories, and Bud Light isn't far behind at 110 calories. Cocktails like a four-ounce margarita up the calorie count even higher at 168 calories, and a 4.5-ounce Piña colada packs 245 calories. These counts could vary somewhat depending on the alcohol and sugar content of your specific drink.

The Angel Food smoothie from Smoothie King contains 340 calories for a 20-ounce serving and 690 for 40 ounces.(For the AJC)

Smoothies

Smoothies have a "health halo" that leads many people to believe they're harmless, Marisa Moore, a local dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told the AJC.

Serving size is important, she pointed out. For example, a 20-ounce Angel Food smoothie from Smoothie King containing 340 calories. If you order the 40-ounce mixture of strawberries, bananas, nonfat milk, vanilla and other natural flavors and turbinado sugar, you'll be getting a whopping 690 calories. You can save some calories by omitting the sugar, saving 90 calories on a 20-ounce Angel Food smoothie, but it's still fairly high in calories.

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Attention, adults: 9 ways to fight cabin fever (each under $15)

Published: Tuesday, January 09, 2018 @ 11:40 AM

Here are some ways to combat cabin fever Get outside for 30 minutes in the middle of the day and take a walk Grow something small inside Host a fruit-salad exchange Bump up your comfort food with tropical ingredients Roast up some winter pep Hit the aquarium or pet store

Argh, winter! 

Sick of the snow, ceaseless rain, being in the house − and the whining (from you not the babies)?

Sounds like cabin fever, which adults suffer from more than the little ones.

While it's not as serious as seasonal affective disorder, it's important to make every attempt to shake off this mind-numbing boredom or that feeling of being trapped. Just know, it can be done. And since it so often occurs in the post-Christmas financial slump of winter, the second encouraging message is that fending off the winter blahs and that shut-in feeling does not have to cost much. While the Caribbean getaway would be swell, it won't be necessary.

In fact, psychologists, nutritionists and all around fun activity planners recommended these nine ways adults can combat cabin fever, each costing $15 or less:

•Walk towards the light. Cost: Free

This tip from psychologist Margaret Wehrenberg in Psychology Today helps those with SAD, but will also give you a lift if you're trying to shake the ordinary winter blahs. "Get outside for 30 minutes in the middle of the day and take a walk," she advised. "It helps activate your brain and you will feel more energetic, not less, if you get outside. Natural light always trumps artificial light, and even on a cloudy day you will get a fair amount of the right kind of light to wake up your brain." Not feeling the fun factor here? Make the idea of walking outdoors more appealing by doing like the kids do and playing a game with a companion while you walk. Follow the Leader is a good one, or "side of the path" Bingo. For the latter, give yourself a point each time you see, for example, red berries, a recycle bin, a cat in the window and a feather on the ground. Whoever gets the most points wins, say, a hot beverage prepared by the other. Change the items that need to be spotted and your route for the next day.

•Take creativity to the tub. Cost: $10

So you're not in a Jacuzzi with a tropical beverage in hand. Innovate! Take to your own tub, with your mate or by yourself, with tub crayons in tow. Have fun drawing all over the walls while you soak in warm water. Win, win.

•Grow something small inside. Cost: $2, $5 or $7

While it's also mood-boosting to browse colorful seed catalogs, it's far more active and less budget-busting to start growing something indoors. Yes, now, when you're feeling trapped and out of sorts, not next spring when you're already hopeful and bouncy. This nurturing of small plants or seeds into larger plants and flowers taps into a feeling of being responsible for the growth and blossoming of life, psychotherapist Sheri Jacobson told the Huffington Post. "This is an activity which, similar to caring for a pet, can help with feeling worthwhile and purposeful, and thus helping to combat depression." Three good growing projects for beginners:

•Roar back at the weather. Cost: Free

To get your blood pumping, a quick boost to the metabolism and amused stares from the neighbors, taunt the weather. Saunter out to the mailbox in shorts, t-shirt and flip-flops and then race back yelling "I am mighty!" (Or insert your favorite affirmation here.) Bellow "Let It Go" while you shovel (not snowblow) the walk or driveway, or dress warmly and go howl at the moon for 60 seconds every night at the same time. If it's torrential rain keeping you homebound (but it's not thundering), apply your facial wash and then use rainwater to rinse it off – while you're in your bathing suit, outdoors. The idea is that if you can gain the upper hand with the weather for a few seconds, you can tolerate it with good humor for a few more days.

»Snow day? 5 kid-friendly craft ideas to ward off cabin fever

•Bump up your comfort food with tropical ingredients. $6

It's not just your imagination. When you're stuck inside and it's cold out, you really do experience a biological craving for denser nutrition, Paula Pavelka, a registered nurse and certified health counselor in Palo Alto, California told Parents. "You should just go with that inclination to eat more substantial, hot foods than you might in the warm months."

But to keep cabin fever from setting in after you indulge, get creative with lower calorie ingredients that still zing. Pavelka's favorite: mango chili, made by substituting frozen mango chunks or pieces of fresh, firm mango for half the diced tomatoes in your chili recipe. Top each bowl with more chopped mango.

•Host a fruit-salad exchange. $10-$12 each for 6-8 adults

Speaking of tropical, remember that Christmas cookie exchange? To get both the social interaction that battles cabin fever and lots of delightful vitamins and fiber, why not try a fruit salad exchange with as many friends as you can get interested? Each person brings enough cut-up fruit for all, and you make up a line to dip out a half-cup at a time in take-home bowls (that way no one swipes all the raspberries, for example.) Put a signup list on a social network, and list all the prime ingredients including watermelon, pineapple, star fruit, kiwi. Not only will it taste great, but you'll also have enough exotic fruit salad to cheer up at least a couple of work lunches.

•Hold a suitcase party. $15 each for 10-20 adults

About that Caribbean vacation. So you can't afford it and neither can any of your friends. But together you could afford a much more modest getaway – for two of you. A suitcase party is the fun way to make that happen.

Here's how you do it: Invite all your friends to contribute $15 for a possible getaway for two in your area. When you know whether you have $150 or more to spend, comb Groupon, Airbnb and other discount local travel options. Put together a modest package for an overnight that includes accommodations for two, an outing and maybe brunch. And here is how you all get to enjoy the break from winter discontent: pair up and come to a "Suitcase Party" potluck and music. Everyone dresses the way they'd need to if they won the final prize and is prepared to leave that evening. Each pair is assigned a numbered ticket that corresponds to the same numbers in a bowl. Start around 6 p.m. Every 20 minutes, in a reverse elimination, randomly choose one number. Those two stay at the party, and so on, until just one couple's number is left. They depart for the excursion and the rest of you continue to enjoy your winter get-together.

Sweet potatoes and aduki beans fill this vegan casserole, but you could swap out regular potatoes or another kind of bean if you prefer. Contributed by Nassima Rothacker(American-Statesman Staff)

•Roast up some winter pep. $10

The dark makes our bodies crave sugar in the colder months, and that adds pounds and the old "sugar-high, sugar-low" cycle, both creators of cabin fever. Fight the urge by eating naturally sweet dishes, like Pavelka's recipe for roasted root vegetables. She cubes sweet potatoes, carrots, onions and beets, tosses them with about a tablespoon of olive oil, and roasts them on a baking pan in a preheated 400°F oven. Check the mix after 20 minutes, stir if needed and take them out when they're nice and brown.

•Hit the aquarium or pet store. $0

Living, breathing things can coax you out of the winter doldrums. But instead of spending the big bucks to visit the local aquarium or zoo, see if you can't find a local pet store with birds and guinea pigs and such. Or, look for an aquarium store (saltwater is the best) where you can spend minutes or hours gazing at the tropical fish.

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It's official: Coffee is good for you, according to new research

Published: Tuesday, January 09, 2018 @ 3:15 PM

8 Things You Never Knew About Coffee

Dozens of studies have shown the striking health benefits of coffee. Regardless, many in the general public continue to believe coffee consumption is something to cut back on, not something that has positive implications for those struggling with liver disease, Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, among others.

"There's over 19,000 studies done on coffee and health. And it's very well-researched," Andrew Salisbury, Atlanta resident and founder of Purity Organic Coffee, told the AJC. "There's just a huge disconnect between what science knows about coffee and what the general public knows."

»RELATED: Under 45? Study says you might not be getting the full perks from coffee

While traditional coffee sellers and producers focus primarily on taste, Salisbury founded Purity with health benefits as the main priority.

Health is "the only driver" for decisions made throughout the production process of Purity coffee, Salisbury explained. 

After his wife experienced some health issues three years ago, and self-medicated with coffee, Salisbury began researching coffee for himself. He was blown away by the scientific research demonstrating its positive effects. With the goal of getting the information out, he began researching to see how the health benefits could be maximized and promoted.

"We didn't know if we were going to have coffee that tastes like ditch water, or if we were going to have coffee that people have to pay $200 per pound (for)," he said. "But, it ended up being fantastic organic coffee that tasted great, and we made every decision based on health."

(Michelle McMahon/Getty Images/Jason Lemon)

Many of coffee's health benefits stem from its high level of antioxidants. Experts often cite coffee as the highest source of antioxidants in the typical American diet. At the same time, drinking coffee for its natural health benefits hasn't quite caught on.

In November, the BMJ – a British medical journal – published a scientific review by researchers from the University of Southampton, which examined 201 observational studies analyzing the health of coffee drinkers. According to the review's findings, while some health issues are associated with coffee, research suggests that the benefits of moderate coffee consumption overshadow potential problems.

"There is a balance of risks in life, and the benefits of moderate consumption of coffee seem to outweigh the risks," Professor Paul Roderick, from Southhampton's faculty of medicine and the co-author of the review, said, according to the BBC.

The research suggests that three to four cups of coffee provide the maximum level of health benefits, except among pregnant women who should avoid consuming more than 200 mg of caffeine daily. Too much caffeine during pregnancy has been linked to an increase risk of miscarriage.

Overall, when coffee drinkers are compared to those who don't drink coffee, regular consumers appear to have a lower risk of death from all causes, including heart disease.

"I have yet to come across a patient with cirrhosis of the liver who regularly drank four to five cups of regular coffee a day,"Dr.  Sanjiv Chopra, MACP professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, who sits on Purity's advisory board, told AJC.

"The beneficial effect is not the caffeine, but ingredients such as Kawheol and Cafestol which protect the liver in experimental animal models of liver injury. Coffee also contains chlorogenic acid which is one of the richest antioxidants," Chopra explained.

But as Salisbury points out, although many have been focusing on the amount of coffee to drink, there's a more important question to ask.

"The questions should be, what's the quality of coffee that I'm drinking? And what gives me the most antioxidants in my coffee?," he pointed out. "That's where I think people are a little bit off base. They are treating coffee as if it's all equal and it's not."

For instance, the way coffee is grown, harvested and roasted can significantly impact the level of antioxidants. Over-roasting or under-roasting can also produce compounds that are potentially hazardous to human health. Salisbury explained that many factors, including the coffee's level of freshness, can impact the amount of antioxidants in each cup.

If you want to maximize the health benefits when choosing coffee, there are several factors to consider.

"If you go into your Whole Foods and you're looking for a coffee, you want an organic coffee, it needs to be specialty grade, because that will be a lot higher quality," Salisbury explained. "And you want a medium roast coffee," he added, emphasizing the risks of under-roasting or over-roasting.

»RELATED: Cups of coffee could help you live longer

When it comes to people who have pre-diabetes or at risk for liver disease, coffee might be an easy and natural addition to their daily diet positively impacting their health. Salisbury suggests that people start focusing on their coffee consumption as a way to address health risks.

So, if one of your new year's resolutions was to cut back on coffee, you may want to reconsider. Instead of trying to reduce your consumption, you may want to take a closer look at what quality of coffee you're drinking.

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What's the best way to lose weight with minimal effort?

Published: Tuesday, January 09, 2018 @ 11:53 AM

Oftentimes healthy eating and exercise are the first to go as life gets more and more hectic Nutrition is 80-90% of successful weight loss in your 30s You should eat 3 regular meals and 2 snacks per day Log your food intake and exercise to motivate you to move more and reassess the food you're eating Find time to make healthy eating and exercise work for you If you're trying to get back in the habit of training, don't overthink it. It's more important to get started Don't go and join a gym until you real

It's the annual concerted promise  Americans make —vowing to shed some pounds. 

If you're one of the many who are trying to lose weight, but struggling, you're probably wondering how you can best do so with the minimum effort. Exercising for hours per day may not sound ideal, or even practical. 

»RELATED: Want to lose more weight? Ditch your diet for a couple of weeks, study suggests

Well, according to doctors and leading weight-loss experts, more exercise isn't actually the quickest or most efficient way to reach your ideal waist line.

"Studies tend to show that in terms of weight loss, diet plays a much bigger role than exercise," Philip Stanforth, a professor of exercise science at the University of Texas and the executive director of the Fitness Institute of Texas, told Business Insider.

Stanforth explained that exercise actually burns less calories than people think. It also requires consistent effort, meaning it takes much longer to see results than simply fixing your diet.

"You'd have to walk 35 miles to burn 3,500 calories. That's a lot of walking. But if you look at eating, a Snickers bar might have, say, 500 calories. It's going to be a lot easier to cut the Snickers bar than to do 5 miles of walking every day," he explained, (note that a normal Snickers bar is actually about 220 calories, while a Snickers '2-to-go' is 440).

Shawn M. Talbott, PhD, nutritional biochemist and former director of the University of Utah Nutrition Clinic, voiced a similar expert opinion. However, he also suggested a combination of diet and exercise is the ideal weight loss solution.

"As a rule of thumb, weight loss is generally 75 percent diet and 25 percent exercise. An analysis of more than 700 weight loss studies found that people see the biggest short-term results when they eat smart," Talbott explained to the Huffington Post. "On average, people who dieted without exercising for 15 weeks lost 23 pounds; the exercisers lost only six over about 21 weeks. It's much easier to cut calories than to burn them off. For example, if you eat a fast-food steak quesadilla, which can pack 500-plus calories, you need to run more than four miles to 'undo' it!"

California-based nutritionist and dietitian Kimberly Slater, MS, RD told AJC in November that when an individual is working on building a chiseled frame, diet is absolutely key.

"When you neglect your nutrition you neglect your workout," Slater said. "The best remedy is to eat healthier."

And the scientific evidence is there to back the expert advice. 

A review of 20 different studies published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in 2014, which overall looked at the diets of some 3,000 individuals, revealed that high-protein diets and low-calorie meal replacements helped people keep weight off better than exercise.

»RELATED: Lose the belly pooch: 7 do’s and don’ts to accomplish a flat stomach

Another 2011 review examined the relationship between fat mass and physical activity in children. The results showed that less physical activity is not the principle factor driving unhealthy weight among kids.

At the same time, while removing calories from your diet may have the quickest impact on your waistline, experts caution that exercise is important as well.

"A combination of diet and exercise is best at any stage of weight loss," Albert Matheny, R.D., C.S.C.S., co-founder of SoHo Strength Lab and PROMIX Nutrition told Women's Health. "Exercise should be a mix of strength training and cardiovascular training, not just cardio. Both modes of exercise burn calories and, in turn, lead to stored fat being used as a source of energy."

Michele Olson, PhD, professor of physical education and exercise science at Auburn University at Montgomery, Alabama told Huffington Post that is an important component to weight loss.

"Without [exercise], only a portion of your weight loss is from fat — you're also stripping away muscle and bone density. Since working out stimulates growth of those metabolic tissues, losing weight through exercise means you're burning mostly fat," Olson explained. "The number on the scale may not sound as impressive, but because muscle takes up less space than fat does, you look smaller and your clothes fit better."

»RELATED: 6 of the best apps to track your eating

As you work toward your weight loss goal, cutting calories will show you the quickest results. But for the best results, increase your physical activity as well.