This is the year you will resolve to ditch the diets, the “all or nothing” mentality and the “no-pain, no-gain” fitness goals. This is the year you will resolve to use common sense to eat less junk food, move more — and have fun doing it.
Remember what it was like when you were a kid and you thought nothing of playing tag for hours on end? That spirit still lives. You just need to wake it up. Maybe with a high-energy Zumba workout or Shaun T’s “Hip Hop Abs,” done in the privacy of your own home. Or by walking your dog while listening to a Dan Brown thriller. Instead of embarking on yet another diet, why not try to lose roughly a pound a week by creating a modest 500-calorie deficit each day. That’s easily accomplished by slashing about 250 calories from your diet (the equivalent of five Oreos) and burning about 250 calories through exercise, such as a brisk two-to-three-mile walk. You can do that easily.
Here are 52 tips for each week of the year, but we know we’re just scratching the surface. Let’s get started, shall we?
1 You “work” all week. No wonder you don’t want to “work” out. Find a way to move more and have fun doing it. Try a Zumba class. Even if you never go back, it will redefine your definition of exercise.
2 You know that sluggish feeling you get when you drink alcohol? That’s your metabolism slowing to a halt.
3 Adopt an avatar. James Bond? Lara Croft? Put it in charge of slaying your food cravings. Or pretend you’re the Terminator and someone stands between you and your workout.
4 Buy a pedometer. Slowly work your way up to 10,000 to 15,000 steps a day. Parents can make it a game with kids: The person with the most steps for the day gets out of dish duty or earns more console time.
5 Gardening and heavy-duty housework, like cleaning the garage, count.
6 Write a loooong list of all the fun, sexy, sassy reasons you want to achieve your fitness goals. (“I want to rock a bikini!” “I want biceps worthy of the cover of Men’s Health.”) Make copies of that list and stash them everywhere. Review when weakness strikes.
7 Recognize: Six packs are made in the kitchen, not the gym. If you have only 30 minutes, you’re better off using that time to prep the following day’s breakfast and lunch than working out. Skip a workout if you use that time wisely.
8 Jump on the boutique gym bandwagon. Try a funky, fun fitness haven where the low-impact, calorie-torching workout happens in a room full of elliptical machines.
9 Eat all the raw, non-starchy vegetables you can stand.
10 Exercise while doing household chores. Put in a load of laundry before you press “play” on a fitness DVD, and pause partway through to make the washer-to-dryer transfer. Plan dinner around a casserole that bakes while you work out in the living room.
11 Give up extreme thinking. Don’t give up chocolate for 2013. How about: Give up bingeing on chocolate in 2013, and instead resolve to enjoy it in moderation.
12 Ask a magic question: “How can I reach my health and fitness goals and enjoy the process?” You don’t need to answer that. Let your brain percolate on it. (Credit motivational guru Tony Robbins.)
13 Got a tablet? Download a movie and prop it on a treadmill at the gym. The average movie should get you through four 30-minute walks.
14 Stop trying to be Julia Child every day. Store-bought rotisserie chicken + bagged salad equals dinner. A quesadilla + bagged salad equals dinner. A grilled steak + bagged salad equals dinner.
15 Use social media. Follow fitness fanatics who inspire. Tweet your goals and ask followers to hold you accountable.
16 Find more ways to move at work. Stand at your desk or while you’re on the phone. Instead of a stuffy meeting room, chat with a colleague during a brief walk.
17 Home workout DVDs are expensive. Band together with some like-minded friends, invest in a few DVDs and swap every month to keep it interesting.
18 You have no time to work out? How about a 10-minute walk — five minutes in one direction, then turn around — in the morning, at noon and when you get home at night?
19 Register to walk a half marathon. You can download free training programs online.
20 Pay yourself to get in shape. Put $5 in a jar every time you work out. Or every time you bring a healthful lunch to work. If you work out three times a week and take lunch twice a week, you’ll have $1,300 come the 2013 holiday shopping season.
21 Your two best fitness buddies: Your kids and your dog. Walk to parks and just have fun. Kick a soccer ball around or throw sticks for Fido. Play Frisbee. Tag. Fly a kite.
22 Explore your town. Playing tourist at home — crawling museums, hiking trails, strolling boardwalks — adds steps to your pedometer.
23 Earn your dessert. Make it a small serving that comes halfway through a four-mile round-trip walk. Enjoy every bite.
24 Create a private photo account and commit to taking a picture of yourself every week in 2013. (Men go shirtless, women in a sports bra.) Take a spin through those photos when you need encouragement.
25 Read magazines that inspire you with new workouts (and not depress you with skinny models).
26 Scour the web for fitness blogs written by people like you, and bookmark them. The next time you feel like skipping a workout, tap into that community for motivation.
27 Parents: You do more for your kids than for yourself. Take advantage of that! When you find yourself reaching for a doughnut, think of your kids: Do you want to saddle them with a morbidly obese, Type 2 diabetic mom or dad?
28 Do some year-end projections. If you slash your Oreo consumption from eight cookies a week to four, you’ll save more than 11,000 calories and lose nearly four pounds.
29 Many people plan weekday meals and go wild at the weekend. If you need to include a celebratory dinner on Saturday, plan the weekend program around that.
30 Let co-workers take the elevator. You take the stairs.
31 Keep a food journal and use it to spot bad habits and find a way to gently correct them.
32 Do not skip meals. Ever. If you miss breakfast, you’ll likely end up overeating later.
33 Prepare for the apocalypse. Have healthful snacks, such as almonds in a desk drawer, glove box or hand bag.
34 Supermarket survival tips: Just don’t buy it and don’t shop hungry. If you don’t put it in your cart, you can’t eat it.
35 When you hear the candy dish calling you, ask yourself, “Will that get me closer to my goals?”
36 Get your favourite books in audio format but listen only when you’re walking the dog or using a StairMaster.
37 Get a good night’s rest. You are more likely to make poor food choices and skip workouts when you’re tired and cranky.
38 Most people eat 250 to 300 grams of carbohydrates a day, the equivalent of 1,000 to 1,200 calories. The national Institute of Medicine recommends 130 grams. Cut carbs. Eat the burger with half the bun. Scoop hummus with cucumber slices.
39 When you splurge, splurge smart. Skip the store-bought cookies. Homemade cookies from Mom? Enjoy in moderation.
40 Don’t drink your calories. Reach for water instead of pop.
41 Find ways to relieve stress that do not involve food. Meditate. Exercise.
42 Avoid processed food. Read labels. If you see ingredients you cannot pronounce, or lots of sweeteners, put it down.
43 Fix lunch from the salad bag, then add a protein — grilled chicken, hard-boiled eggs, tuna.
44 Sugar makes you want more sugar. That has nothing to do with self-control. And ask yourself: Do you want to control what you eat or do you want what you eat to control you?
45 Get mad at all the ads that bombard you with enticements to eat and drink yourself silly. Notice those cues, and tell yourself: “I am not a billy goat. I don’t eat trash.”
46 What’s your favorite music? That’s what you should be working out to.
47 If you don’t like running and weights, don’t do them. A perfectly good fitness regimen can revolve around yoga.
48 Scare yourself into eating fewer carbs. Read Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis.
49 If you do a lot of casual or fast-food dining, read the calorie counts. Yikes!
50 If you tend to watch too much TV, make a point of watching from the treadmill.
51 Fit in some “flash fitness.” Ride your bike to work one day a week. Park your car two blocks from the dry cleaners.
52 Realize that the reason you eat too much is because ... you’re normal.
In days filled with stress and demands, eating is one enjoyable thing we can do easily. Maybe the best resolution for 2013 is to find a healthy way to bring more joy into your life.
© Copyright 2013