At the end of the holiday season, people start thinking about their health and fitness goals for the following year. But many people give up on their goals before the first month of the year is even over.
So, this blog is not going to be about all the resolutions you could make, because frankly, New Year's resolutions are a bit cliche and don’t work for most people. Think about it - how many people do you know that set huge goals for the new year and actually accomplish them all? Has anyone ever become the image of fitness off of a resolution?
I have personally fallen prey to the New Year's resolutions and the mentality of starting on Monday - which I call the Monday Mindset - until 7 years ago when I decided I was done with dieting and I was going to focus on building lasting and sustainable habits that support my goals every day.
How do we change this mentality to focus on the long term? Well, I wish it was more exciting, but we just do. You start by just taking imperfect, small action. Let go of the short term mindset and make a decision to make this year different. Instead of spending hours thinking about a slim physique or searching for the motivational quotes to save on your phone for the days you’re not feeling the motivation, take a step back and look in the mirror.
Instead of imagining what the future could look like, focus on today and make each day better. Don’t waste more time daydreaming about how it could be your year, commit to making it your day each and every day and that will lead you to achieving and sustaining your success with bigger goals.
With this new mindset, we are going to talk about 10 practical ways to achieve the healthy and fit body you want, not just in 2021, but everyday.
I’ll be honest, it takes a lot of work and dedication to change body composition. However, most people think it takes a complex plan, a restrictive diet, hours of cardio in the gym, or a ton of supplements, but it doesn't.
At a very basic level, it takes a good mindset, good nutrition, adequate water, moving your body daily, strength training… and a lot of consistency :)
But if you’re like me, you want to know more specifics that can help you improve your results. While the details are different for every individual, here is a list to help you achieve the body that you want this year:
Set goals & focus - It is important to set goals and be specific with them, you’ve likely heard of SMART goals before and I love that technique to ensure they are specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time bound. However, there are a couple pieces that I want to address when it comes to goal setting and that is ensuring you stay focused on your personal goals and make sure the goal includes balance and aligns with your values so it is sustainable. For example, if you love making homemade pizza with your family, it is not a great idea to write off carbs. Or if you’re not working out at all right now, please don't commit to 6 days a week in the gym come January 1st. Start small and build your habits up so they stick. No matter what your goals are, you need to ensure the measures you take align with your lifestyle and allow you to balance your goals with your life.
Reframe your thoughts - This is one of the biggest pieces of the puzzle that a lot of people miss. Our mind is flooded with thoughts everyday, conscious and subconscious thoughts, and it takes work to reframe them. This is not about the short term or being really restrictive for a period of time to inflict scale results, the body you want must include a healthy mindset and positive self talk. The journey is hard, there is no doubt that some days are a lot harder than others and on those days you need to have the mental awareness and strength to shift your thoughts so you can stay the course. One of our favorite sayings is “I can do hard things” - because we can, we just have to choose to do those things that support our goals every day.
Hydrate - Seems so simple, right? Well, while it is simple, it isn’t easy. We’ve written other blogs on the importance of staying hydrated yet most people still struggle with water intake. You can read more about the importance of hydration and how it impacts fat loss HERE. If you’re starting from scratch, this is always the first habit we begin with clients because not only is it vital to your health, it is one you can do right now no matter where you are!
Our recommendation for water intake is to drink ½ your bodyweight in ounces per day, and a bit more on training days. So if you weigh 150 pounds, your daily goal would be 75 ounces and 100 ounces on training days.
Sleep - Sleep has a big impact on our progress, as it is our best recovery and the key to making progress in and out of the gym. Sleep plays a big role in our hormonal balance, our metabolism, muscle development, blood sugar regulation and more! When sleep-deprived, the metabolism will slow down to conserve the energy it does have.
Your brain will release chemicals and your body will send signals to your brain asking for energy, hello cravings! The brain triggers increased levels of ghrelin and decreased levels of leptin, leading to increased hunger and appetite.
Insufficient sleep also affects parts of the brain that determine how we think about food (source). In studies of people with limited sleep, brain activity is enhanced in areas that are involved in viewing food as a positive reward, making us more vulnerable to eating too much.
Research shows that inadequate sleep leads to over-consuming calories by about 300-500 calories per day as your body is searching for energy and many people reach for the higher calorie, less nutrient dense foods. You can read more about how to improve your sleep, and regulate your circadian rhythm on our blog here.
Eat enough protein - Whether your goals are fat loss, longevity and health, or muscle gain, it is important to consume enough protein.Every living cell uses protein for both structural and functional purposes. Protein is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. Your hair and nails are also mostly made of protein. Your body also uses protein to build and repair tissues, make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Plus, as we age, it is harder to maintain muscle mass so we want to ensure we are consuming enough to prevent muscle loss as the body will catabolize muscle if we aren’t consuming enough.
We have a blog all about protein as well that will help you understand how much protein you need to eat daily to support your body and your individual goals. You can read that blog here.
Eat more fruits and vegetables - We all know how important veggies are, we’ve heard it our entire life right? Yet, almost everyone struggles to eat enough vegetables mainly due to not liking the taste, lack of convenience, perception they go bad too quickly, or simply because they don’t know how to incorporate more veggies into their diet.
Eating veggies has a big impact on our overall health! Not just for micronutrients, vitamins and minerals, but also for the fiber they provide which supports a variety of functions in the body. Eating adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables supports detoxification, helps maintain good bowel health, regulates blood sugar, supports cholesterol levels, as well as assists with weight loss and weight maintenance. You can learn more about fiber and digestion in our blog here.
Fuel your workouts - The number one reason people struggle to see progress in the gym is diet related. In order to maximize your training and achieve the results you desire, you have to fuel your body with the right nutrients to support your goals.
At a basic level, you need to fuel your body with adequate protein as mentioned, and a sufficient amount of carbohydrates as they are your fuel source! If you’re training for performance, you should also consider periodizing your diet, meaning cycling your calories according to your training program and spend more time eating more at your maintenance intake than in a calorie deficit. You should have peak seasons even if you’re not stepping on stage or competing in a weight lifting competition, as your results are largely depending on how you fuel your body.
If you find that you’re struggling to increase strength or recover properly, take a look at your nutrition and dial in your pre and post workout fuel. Learn more about the importance of pre- and post-workout nutrition in our blog here.
Lift Heavy and Incorporate Resistance Training - We have to build the body we want... if your goal is to have a lean/toned body, you need to be strength training 3-4x a week. We would recommend starting a strength training program that uses progressive overload. Different forms of resistance training include using free weights, weight machines, resistance bands and your own body weight. You need to have a solid training program that you can track progress and strength gains. Doing random workouts from Pinterest or Instagram will not lead you to building the body you want in 2021, especially if you’ve been training for a while.
If you are a newbie, I highly suggest you start with bodyweight and work your way up to weighted exercise. It would also be beneficial to hire a professional to help lay this out for you as proper lifting form, nutrition periodization and training periodization is key.
Recover/Destress- Rest and recovery are often overlooked in the process, especially if we are setting out with a new ‘resolution’ or a new ‘motivation’ - a lot of people tend to try and go zero to 60 and end up feeling sore and under recovered. One of my favorite sayings is “we don’t fully benefit from our workout until we recover,” so that includes fueling your workouts as I mentioned before and taking rest days. They can be active rest days and you can walk, do yoga or incorporate stretching on those days, but we need to give the body time to repair and build the muscle we are working so hard for in the gym.
Be consistent - We saved the best for last… because it's extremely important. At the end of the day we can do a lot of things right, but if we aren’t consistent, we can’t expect to see the changes we desire consistently. So, our motto here is do something every day for yourself that aligns with your goals and will help take you one step closer to achieving those goals you have for yourself. If you look at your priority list and there is nothing on there that aligns with your goals, then you need to ask yourself, why not? Do I really want to accomplish what I say I want to accomplish? If so, then re-evaluate your priorities and adjust to ensure you’re doing something to support your goals every day.If you think losing fat takes time, building muscle takes even longer...The two biggest factors in having success or not will be patience and consistency.
In conclusion, changing body composition and losing weight is challenging, and it can take longer for some than others. However, that does not mean it has to be complicated or crazy, it just takes consistency, adjusting in certain seasons of life, discipline and patience. We certainly do not suggest going to the extreme level of under-eating and overtraining as that will have a detrimental effect and may even make the process harder. Applying some, or all, of the steps above can help you improve your body composition and achieve the body you want in 2021.