It's that time of year again: the time of reflection and intentions. With New Year's Eve around the corner, no doubt you've been brainstorming your resolutions. For most of us, that means losing weight and finally kickstarting that new healthy regime we've been talking about for ages.
While setting goals that are focused on your health is important, it's equally important to make them more realistic rather than extreme. There's nothing wrong with desiring washboard abs, but you also want to ensure you're working towards your fitness goals in the most healthy way possible.
Which is why we've come up with the five worst health and fitness New Year's resolutions you can make.
1. Trying the Latest Fad Diet
From paleo to keto, many people want to try the latest fad diet without investing their time and energy into eating whole, nutritious food, and a long-term healthy diet. While a fad diet might promote "fast results," those results seldom last.
Traci Mann, who teaches psychology at the University of Minnesota, and has studied eating habits and diets for 20 years, and wrote the book, "Secrets from the Eating Lab," told the Washington Post that dieting causes "many biological changes happen in your body that it becomes practically impossible to keep the weight off."
For one, "Your metabolism slows down. Your body uses calories in the most efficient way possible. Which sounds like a good thing, and would be a good thing if you're starving to death. But it isn't a good thing if you're trying to lose weight, because when your body finds a way to run itself on fewer calories there tends to be more leftover, and those get stored as fat, which is exactly what you don't want to happen."
This is why focusing on balancing your diet with a variety of fresh and whole foods is best.
2. Working Out Every Day
Sure, you might be super pumped to hit the gym often in January but what happens when you inevitably slack off in February? And then you get so frustrated and disappointed in yourself that you end up quitting the gym altogether in March? Because that's what usually happens when people set such extreme goals for themselves; they often set themselves up for failure.
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Instead, be more realistic with your goals. If you haven't worked out before, or haven't been to the gym in ages, setting a goal of attending two to three times a week is more than enough. If you end up meeting those goals, then you can consider adding in another day or two in a few months. Setting realistic goals makes them more achievable, which, in turn, promotes more success.
3. Swearing Off All Junk Food
Here's the thing: if you completely cut out those afternoon cookies from your diet, chances are, you'll crave them more, which means you're more likely to overindulge. Instead of one or two cookies a day, you'll probably finish off the box.
So treat yourself! Cheat meals are important to a well-balanced diet because they allow you to satisfy cravings, while also giving you the opportunity to live a little. In fact, recent research has found that giving yourself an incentive or reward, like a slice of your favorite cake, can be an effective strategy for weight loss goals.
4. Losing "X" Amount of Pounds
Committing to losing a certain number of pounds by, especially by a certain date, is just adding another stressor to your life, and rarely works. Here's why: a scale is rarely an accurate barometer of our health and fitness. Tracking your body composition, like body fat versus lean muscle, is a far more accurate assessment of your weight loss.
Additionally, it's important to keep in mind that, while a pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat, twenty pounds of fat looks different than ten pounds of muscle. Muscle is more dense than fat, so it will take up "less space," resulting in a leaner look.
Focusing on getting fitter and stronger with a new exercise regime, including a mix of cardio and weightlifting, is a far more effective game plan.
5. Starting on January 1st
Okay, this might defeat the purpose of New Year's resolution, but let's be real: who's actually raring to hit the gym after New Year's Eve? And then when you don't end up eating a healthy salad or working up a sweat on January 1st, you'll probably feel guilty about your new resolutions, which isn't the best mindset to start with. Instead, give yourself a break. Start on the 2nd, or start now. You should begin a new lifestyle change because you want to; not because you think you "have" to by or on a certain day.
Because leading a healthy lifestyle is a lifelong journey; not just for one year but for always.
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