How to Actually Stick to Your Goals

How to Actually Stick to Your Goals

The New Year offers us a great opportunity to embrace change. While around 50% of us make resolutions in January, barely any of us (a measly 8%!) maintain those changes for a year, let alone turn those changes into positive lifelong habits. Setting goals is admirable, but what does it take to actually stick to your goals?

Here are three big reasons why it can be hard to stick to your goals, along with some handy tips on how to set yourself up for success:

Making the Same Resolution Every Year 1. Making the Same Resolution Every Year

By making, and then breaking, the same goals over and over, you’re engaging in psychological sabotage. So if you find yourself stuck in a rut of making the same resolution every January 1st and not following through, it’s time for a change.

Take some time to think seriously about the change(s) you want to make and why. There’s no shame in admitting that some things just aren’t your priority and doing so can free up your mental energy to develop healthy habits that do work for you.

Alternative Approach

Does your typical new year resolution include fitness? Then think about what this really means to you. It’s likely to be different for everyone, and there are many ways to achieve this goal. For example:

  • Able to walk up stairs without feeling breathless
  • Run a 5 km charity race in under 45 minutes
  • Lift your own body weight at the gym
  • Able to keep up with the kids on their bikes while on vacation

Narrow in on a specific goal and use it to set a series of smaller, achievable targets, and create a plan to reach them. This is a great start to help enable you to stick to your goals!

2. Making Your Goals Too General

Nothing hampers success like a moving target, and most new year’s resolutions are vague and rather elusive. As noted above specificity is key, otherwise, how will you know when you’re on track or have achieved your goal?

Alternative Approach

SMART people know that acronyms can be a real help. As such, make sure your goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Timeline

For example, instead of saying “I want to lose weight this year,” resolve to lose a realistic, achievable, safe amount of weight each week for the next 52 weeks. Better still, resolve to get your body fat percentage down by 10%.

Set up a way to measure your progress and figure out a plan to get you there. This could include cutting down portion sizes by a third, eating more plant foods to increase your fiber intake, or cutting out major sources of saturated fat and sugar.

3. Losing Track, and Motivation

Imagine your goal for the year is a town called “Happiness” far off in the distance. You can’t see the town’s lights yet, but you know it’s there and you want to find it. On January 1st you set off at full speed towards the horizon but you soon lose your way, forget where you started, grow dispirited, and end up snacking at a roadside fruit stand before heading back home.

Now, think about how you can develop a better (or any!) strategy to get to Happiness. Instead of just going full tilt without a plan, consult your map and lay out some goals. Get specific. Set up mile markers at reasonable points along that road and focus on those instead of the far off, and intimidating end goal. This works for fitness goals, spending goals, weight loss (or gain) goals, and also for career and relationship goals.

How to Set Specific Goals How to Set Specific Goals

As an example, if your dream goal is to run 15 km in less than 100 minutes in a November charity race, set yourself specific weekly running goals based on your current level of fitness† and a schedule you can stick to, such as the one outlined below.

By setting specific, realistic, achievable, measurable goals on a timeline, that 15 km charity run in under 100 minutes is totally doable, even for a novice runner.

Training Schedule for Novice Runner

For a novice runner, a training schedule needs to be detailed, such as the one below:

Weeks 1–10
  • Weeks 1 and 2: 1 km twice a week and 2 km on weekends
  • Weeks 3 and 4: 2 km twice a week and 3 km on weekends
  • Weeks 5 and 6: 3 km twice a week and 4 km on weekends
  • Weeks 7 and 8: 4 km twice a week and 5 km on weekends (celebrate your first 5 km run!)
  • Weeks 9 and 10: 5 km twice a week and 6 km on weekends
Weeks 11–21
  • Weeks 11 and 12: 6 km twice a week and 7 km on weekends
  • Week 13 (early April): 7 km twice a week and a 5 km charity race at the weekend
  • Week 14: 7 km twice a week and 8 km on weekends
  • Weeks 15 and 16: 8 km twice a week and 9 km on weekends
  • Weeks 17 and 18: 9 km twice a week and 10 km on weekends (celebrate your first 10 km run!)
  • Weeks 19, 20, and 21: 10 km twice a week and 11 km on weekends
Weeks 22–28
  • Week 22 (early June): 11 km twice a week and a 10 km charity run on the weekend
  • Weeks 23 and 24: 12 km twice a week and 13 km on the weekend
  • Weeks 25 and 26: 13 km twice a week and 14 km on the weekend
  • Weeks 27 and 28: 14 km twice a week and 15 km on the weekend (celebrate getting to 15 km!)
  • Weeks 29 and 30: 15 km twice a week and 16 km on the weekend
  • Weeks 31 to 36 (early September): 15 km three times a week (aim for a run-time of less than 140 minutes)
  • Weeks 37 to 42: 15 km three times a week (aim for a run-time of less than 120 minutes)
  • Weeks 43 to 45: 15 km three times a week (aim for a run-time of less than 100 minutes)
  • Week 46 (mid November): 15 km charity race (run time less than 100 minute).

You’re All Set!

The final thing to take note of is that getting fit and losing weight are two separate things. If you want to do both, tackle them as distinct goals with separate milestones and strategies. Also, be aware that getting fit means building muscle, which could mean you gain lean body weight. As such, a better goal pair would be to “run 10 km in under an hour’ and ‘decrease body fat by 10%.”

†Always consult with a qualified health professional if you are unsure before starting a new exercise program.

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The BMI Debate: What to Know

The BMI Debate: What to Know

What do a svelte, health-conscious athlete and a sedentary person weighing 200 lbs have in common?  A high body mass index (or BMI).

This is no joke; athletes, fitness fanatics and those who are considered overweight or morbidly obese often have a similar BMI. You might find this surprising, but the real surprise should be that we’re still using this method to measure individual health.

The BMI debate rages on, so let’s find out what this calculation really measures and why we should take BMI with a pinch of (low-sodium) salt.

What Is BMI?

BMI was invented way back in the 19th Century by Adolphe Quetelet, a Belgian astronomer, mathematician, statistician, and sociologist. Quetelet wanted to devise a way to measure obesity in a population, and thus the body mass index was born.

The BMI is calculated by taking a person’s weight and comparing it to their height squared.  Like this:

  1. A person who is 5’10” and weighs 200 lbs has a BMI of 28.7
  2. A person who is 175 cm tall and weighs 65 kg has a BMI of 21.2.

These measurements put the first individual in the category of “overweight” and the second in the “normal” weight category.

Typically, BMI is classified into four groups:

  1. Underweight = <18.5
  2. Normal weight = 18.5–24.9
  3. Overweight = 25–29.9
  4. Obesity = BMI of 30 or greater

Problems With the BMI Problems with the BMI

The measurement fails to account for the degree to which fat, bone mass, and muscle contribute to overall body mass. Bones and muscle are denser than fat, so a person with strong bones and a good amount of muscle mass may have a similar BMI to someone with more porous bones and a high degree of body fat.

The bluntness of this tool has been noted time and again by physicians and others working in public health. BMI can be useful for measuring population health as it is unlikely that a high average BMI can be attributed to an incredibly toned and muscular population with strong bones. When it comes to individuals, however, BMI is largely unhelpful, so why is it so popular?

The easy answer, of course, is that the calculation is relatively simple and easy to figure out.

Confused Logic and the BMI

The BMI is uni-directional. This means that a person with a lot of body fat will probably have a high BMI, but that a person with a high BMI does not necessarily have a lot of body fat. At best, the tool is descriptive of something you probably already know. At worst, it’s thoroughly misleading and lazy.

Again, a high BMI could mean that an individual is overweight or obese. It could also mean that a person is fit and healthy, with plenty of muscle mass, strong bones, and little fat. Conversely, a person could have a low BMI because they are largely sedentary, have low muscle and bone mass, and/or are sick, but have a fairly high proportion of body fat.

Even the best-intentioned health authorities fall prey to the twisted logic of the BMI. The US Centers for Disease Control noted that “the BMI is a reliable indicator of body fatness for people.

So, what can we use instead of BMI as a fairly robust and simple measure of health?

Alternative to the BMI Alternative to the BMI

A better option is waist measurement (because central adiposity is highly correlated with poor health) and your waist to height ratio. Recommended waist sizes are as follows (and will vary for people of European, Asian, Indian, and African-American descent):

  • No more than 39 or 40 inches for men
  • No more than 34 or 35 inches for women.

To measure your waist, place a tape measure around the top of your hip bones at your lower back and around to the belly button.

For waist to height ratio, the aim is to have a waist circumference that is less than half of your height (i.e., 0.5). For example: if a person is 177.8 cm tall (around 5’10”), weighs 200 lbs, and has a waist size of 80 cm (around 31.5″) their BMI would be 28.7 and put them at the upper end of the overweight category. However, their waist-to-height ratio would 0.45, which is under the recommended 0.5 ratio.

 

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Why You Need to Give Jumping Rope a Try

Why You Need to Give Jumping Rope a Try If you’re looking for a fun way to boost your cardio and get your heart beating, look no further than jump roping! This exercise, known as play in our childhood, is wildly overlooked as an amazing form of fitness. And, adding jump rope into your fitness routine will cost you less than $20!

So what are you waiting for? It’s time to jump in!

Choosing the Right Jump Rope

Here are a few tips to select the jump rope that’s right for you:

  • Novice jump roper? Aim for a rope that is slightly heavier, like a beaded rope.
  • Avid jump roper? Pick a coated rope with light-weight handles.
  • For extra upper body resistance, select a rope with weighted handles.
  • Stand on the rope and make sure the handles reach all the way to your under arms. This ensures the rope is long enough for you to jump comfortably with.

3 Awesome Benefits of Jumping Rope

1. A Workout for Arms, Legs, and Your Upper Body

Jumping rope tones and tightens both your arms and legs, and the circular motion your arms go through the entire time you are jumping is great for your upper body.

2. Burns a Lot of Calories in a Short Amount of Time

Jumping rope is an aerobic workout that burns a ton of calories in a short amount of time.It’s unlikely you will be able to jump rope for longer than 15 minutes. As a general understanding, jumping rope for 5 minutes straight can be the equivalent of running over 3 miles, which is fantastic as it’s unlikely you’d be able to jump for more than 15 minutes.

3. Perfect for Traveling

A jump rope is perfect for travelling! It’s lightweight, can fit into any luggage compartment, and you can find somewhere to jump almost anywhere.

2 Different Jump Rope Styles to Try

There are a lot of other ways to jazz up your jump rope routine. Here are a two of my favorite ways to jump rope:

The Normal Way 1. The “Normal” Way

This way is exactly what you think of when jumping rope comes to mind. You stay in one place, feet together, jumping up and down. Some people prefer to interchange their legs instead of jumping with their feet together.

In the beginning, you’ll notice your heart rate will skyrocket as you jump. As your body gets used to the movement, you’ll notice that your heart rate won’t spike as high and will fall back to normal quicker during rest periods.

Jumping and Moving 2. Jumping and Moving

Who says that you need to stay in one spot while jumping rope? A fun way to spice things up is to move forward while jumping. Start in one spot, then with interchanging feet instead of jumping up – jump forward! You can move 5–10 hops forward on the same foot, then turn around and hop back on the opposite foot.

You can also try variations of hops like side-to-side hops and front-to-back hops.

Monitoring Your Heart Rate

As noted above, jumping rope is a highly aerobic exercise. As such, it’s a good idea to keep track of your heart rate during this exercise. Here’s how:

Take 220 minus your age to determine your maximum heart rate.  Take your pulse for 6 seconds and tack on a “0”. That is a general guideline for your heart rate at that moment. For example, if you take your pulse after jumping rope for 1 minute and it is 18, adding on a zero would be 180.

For more information on your heart rate and general age guidelines, visit The American Heart Association.

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4 Simple Steps to Detoxify Your Kitchen

4 Simple Steps to Detoxify Your Kitchen Your body is not the only thing that needs a good detox once in awhile. When I mention detoxification, you probably think about something your body does to lose weight, support your liver, and generally feel and look better. Strange as it sounds, your kitchen could also use a good detox!

If you make your kitchen a safe zone, with only foods that nourish rather than harm, then you will automatically make the right choices. If you fill it with crap, you will eat crap, no matter how much willpower you have.

The first step to detoxify your kitchen, then, is not to load it with junk and clear out whatever junk currently is stocking your cupboards. If it’s not there you won’t eat it. It’s that simple.

I’ve created a four-step process to effectively detoxify your kitchen and restock it with healthy foods.

Step 1: Set aside an hour to purge your kitchen

Schedule it into your planner if you need to. This requires some detective work. Read food labels for added sugar and other junk ingredients that don’t belong in a healthy kitchen. Have a big garbage bag ready (better yet, recycle containers if you can) to dump the junk. It might take longer depending on how much hidden junk and toxic ingredients lurk in your cupboard or fridge.

Step 2: Scrutinize labels

Ideally, you’ll replace anything that is questionable with real fresh or whole foods without labels. A fresh avocado or a kiwi doesn’t come with a nutrition facts label, or a bar code or ingredient list. If you decide to keep foods with labels, follow these rules:

  • Focus on the ingredient list, not the “nutrition facts” that are mostly designed and developed under huge food industry lobby efforts to confuse and confound your efforts to eat healthy.
  • If you don’t recognize, can’t pronounce it, or it is in Latin or you don’t have it in your cupboard and you wouldn’t use it in a recipe, then don’t use it.
  • On every ingredient list, note that the most abundant ingredient is listed first. The others follow in descending order by weight.
  • Be conscious of ingredients that may not be on the list. Some ingredients may be exempt from labels. Get rid of these foods.
  • Beware of foods with health claims on the label. These claims usually signal a marketing ploy to make you think they’re good for you when they’re really just healthy pretenders. Things like sports beverages, energy bars, and even multigrain breads (which often contain high fructose corn syrup) fall into this category.

Now that you know what to look for, I’ll walk you through the process of determining what can stay and what needs to take a permanent vacation on your kitchen detox.

Step 3: Ditch These Foods

When you detoxify your body, you eliminate harmful toxins. Likewise, when you detoxify your kitchen you’ll want to get rid of any food that contains these harmful ingredients.

1. You probably know obvious sugar culprits, but be aware of hidden sugars that lurk in salad dressings, processed foods, drinks, and even “healthy” foods like cereals and wheat. Sugar goes by many aliases. Just as boys named Andrew often go by Andy or Drew, sugar might be called organic cane juice, honey, agave, maple syrup, cane syrup, or molasses. There are 257 names for sugar, most made from corn with names that you wouldn’t recognize. Look carefully at condiments like salad dressing, barbecue sauce, or ketchup, which are often high-fructose corn syrup traps.

2. Bad fats. Don’t be afraid of fat. Fat doesn’t make you fat, but the wrong fats can wreak serious metabolic havoc. Toss out any highly refined cooking oils such as corn and soy, fried foods you may have stored in your freezer, and margarine or shortening. These have dangerous trans fats that create inflammation. Scour labels for the words “hydrogenated fat” (another phrase for trans fat), which has finally been declared not safe for consumption by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

3. Artificial sweeteners. Throw out food with artificial sweeteners of all kinds (aspartame, NutraSweet, Splenda, sucralose, and sugar alcohols — any word that ends with “ol,” like sorbitol). Stevia may be better than aspartame but only whole plant extract, not Pure Via and Truvia, which are made by Pepsi and Coke and are chemical extracts of stevia. Use it sparingly. A new non-caloric sweetener that comes from monk fruit that is rich in antioxidants can also be used in small amounts. But remember, any sweetener can make you hungry, lower your metabolism, create gas, and store belly fat.

4. Anything with ingredients you can’t pronounce. If you purchase something with a nutrition label, there should be less than five ingredients on it and all things that a third grader would understand like “tomatoes, water, salt.” Focus on the ingredient list, not the “nutrition facts,” which are mostly designed and developed under huge food industry lobby efforts to confuse and confound your efforts to eat healthy.

5. Any potentially questionable food or ingredients. Seemingly safe foods like spices and seasonings can contain autolyzed yeast extract and even high fructose corn syrup that have no place in a healthy kitchen.

Step 4: Stock Up on These

Now that you’ve purged unhealthy foods, you want to replace kitchen cabinets and cupboards with fresh, healthy foods. These are the ones you’ll want to load your kitchen with:

1. Non-starchy veggies are freebies. Eat as many as you like! Limit fruits because they increase your insulin levels. Berries are your best bet. When possible, choose organic, seasonal, and local produce. When you can, avoid the most pesticide contaminated fruits and vegetables by consulting the Environmental Working Group’s  “Dirty Dozen” list and instead choose from the “Clean Fifteen” list featuring the least contaminated options. Just make sure you’re buying unseasoned or unsweetened varieties. Also check out your local farmers market or community supported agriculture (CSA).

2. Dry foods. These staple foods usually have a longer shelf life and include raw or lightly roasted nuts and seeds, legumes, quinoa, and gluten-free grains.

3. Herbs, spices, and seasonings. You’ll want to have a range of pantry ingredients, including seasonings and spices, on hand. Buy organic when you can. Because you only use a little of some of these, they tend to last a long time so you get a lot of value from them. Among my favorites include extra virgin olive oil, extra virgin coconut butter, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and seasonings and spices. Just read your labels to ensure they don’t contain hidden sugar, gluten, or other problem additives.

4. Fresh foods. Get in the habit of keeping your fridge and freezer stocked with these items. When selecting beef or meat, choose grass-fed, hormone-free, or organic, whenever possible. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) mandates that all poultry is raised without hormones, so look for the terms “antibiotic free” or “organic” when buying poultry. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s “Meat Eater’s Guide” to choose meat that’s good for you and good for the planet. Optimal protein choices include:

  • Chicken and turkey breasts
  • Ground chicken and turkey
  • Grass-fed beef, lamb, and bison (buffalo) meat
  • Omega-3 enriched eggs
  • Whole forms of non-GMO soy food, like tofu, tempeh, and gluten-free miso (organic, when possible)
  • Wild or sustainably farmed, low-mercury seafood like sardines, salmon, herring, flounder, clams, crab, oyster, perch, pollock, shrimp, sole, squid, trout, whitefish etc.). Avoid those fish that are high in mercury such as tuna, swordfish, and Chilean sea bass. Refer to the National Resources Defense Council website to download their wallet guide to choosing the fish lowest in mercury.

Now, you might need some inspiration! It’s easy to just say, I’ll buy tons of veggies and some fruit and healthy meats and fats, but what are you going to do with all of that food?

Well, my new book, Eat Fat, Get Thin Cookbook not only goes through a step-by-step guide of how to makeover your kitchen, but it features over 175 mouth-watering recipes to help you get healthy and stay healthy. I’ve included breakfast dishes, smoothies, some vegan meals, plenty of options for lunch and dinner, and even desserts! Eating food that is good for you is not about feeling deprived. If you choose the right foods and the right recipes, you can reap the benefits of a healthy style without feeling deprived.

“If you choose to use only one supplement, PGX is the most important” ~ Mark Hyman, MD from his book, Eat Fat, Get Thin

Now you’re all set up for success!

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