Getting in Shape for the New Year

Getting and staying in shape requires a number of factors to be working in your favor. Here's how to do it right for 2016.

Exercise more, eat less! It’s held the number slot of New Year’s Resolutions since the first Rose Bowl parade (which was in 1886, by the way). And yet, it has the success rate of a bad pick-up line. The reason why has to do with these common pitfalls to thwart our best intentions:

Lack of expertise. Everybody’s body is different. People keep extra weight on because of diet, genetics, lack of sleep, menopause, thyroid problems, reactions medications, cortisol levels or insulin problems.  There’s a whole myriad of reasons the human body will store fat. Instead of trying a one-size-fits-all approach (eat very little, exercise until you burn out), consult your doctor or specialist, like an endocrinologist, to find out what your body needs (or if you even need to lose weight in the first place).

Lack of accountability. Don’t go at it alone. Promising yourself to hit the gym is not enough. You need a support system. Join a class, use an app to track your progress, rope in a friend, shout it from the social media rooftops. Also, while home workout videos are tempting, so is the couch. Get out of your comfort zone.

Time management. Being "too busy to work out" is not a valid excuse anymore. The fitness community has decisively embraced the idea of quality over quantity. There are countless workouts that blast as many calories in 15 minutes as an hour-long jog. You can also make subtle shifts in your daily routine that get the blood pumping while at the office, like using the stairs instead of the elevator.

Just say "bad" to fads. Remember the Thigh Master, Vibrating Belt, Shake Weight? All of these one-hit-workout-wonders are gathering dust in the garage.

Don’t compare yourself to others.This is a black hole of self-sabotage. According to this TED Talk, even supermodels are insecure.

Don't rush yourself. Avoid workouts that make unrealistic promises, like “total body transformation in two weeks.” Set realistic goals.

Diet. All the exercise in the world won’t work if you go from lifting dumbbells to guzzling dumplings. Don’t try to overhaul your eating habits alone. Consult a nutritionist to ensure you maintain a healthy balance and aren’t depriving yourself of essential nutrients. Plus, you gain another witness who’s now invested in your future.

Lack of direction. The workout options are endless, from ones certified by celebrity trainers to Navy Seals. Know ahead of time what your fitness goals are to optimize your results.

Toning/Sculpting. Look for “circuit training” drills that cycle through a core group of resistance exercises. Popular option: Ballet-inspired workouts like yoga, Pilates, Barre.

Increase lung capacity. Think cardiovascular – running, cycling up inclines, exercising at higher altitudes. Breathing exercises, meditation, any workout in water. 

Improve balance. The most underrated yet critical component of a complete workout routine. Balance increases overall performance, core strength, and stability; it improves posture, reflexes, and focus and prevents injury.

Weight loss. The key here is variety, combining aerobic and anaerobic drills to shock the muscles and maximize the “after-burn effect” – the amount of time your body continues to metabolize calories after the workout is over. Popular options: Barry’s Bootcamp, Soul Cycle, S3, and Cross Fit.

Gaining Lean MuscleLook for “H.I.I.T.” (High-Intensity-Interval-Training) workouts.  These push your body to its maximum limit for a short amount of time, rest, and repeat. Popular options: Barry’s Bootcamp, Tabata, run-jog-sprint cycles.

In the end, getting – and staying – in shape requires support, clarity, commitment to a long-term goal, proper sleep, hydration, and professional guidance in the form of a certified nutritionist and family doctor to monitor your diet, blood pressure, cholesterol, and overall progress to greater health. Good luck!

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