5 Ways to Set F it­ness Goals That Ac­tu­ally Work

Take a re­al­is­tic and prac­ti­cal route to your healthy goals in 2019 for re­sults that last.

Shape (Malaysia) - - Movers & Shapers Get Fit -

Weight loss and fit­ness res­o­lu­tions are pop­u­lar be­cause they don’t work—so peo­ple have to re­solve to do them again every year. It’s time to stop the no-suc­cess cy­cle, and try some­thing new in 2019: If you re­ally want to suc­ceed, use these ex­pert- and science-backed rea­sons to map out a bet­ter fit­ness plan for your­self. These five tips may sound rather or­di­nary, but it will ac­tu­ally help you shape up for the long haul.

Be Aware of Y our Body

Ev­ery­one (well, al­most ev­ery­one) who re­solves to start hit­ting the gym falls off the wagon in a mat­ter of months—ac­cord­ing to one sur­vey, up to 60 per­cent of new mem­ber­ships go un­used, and at­ten­dance is back to the reg­u­lar fit­ness fa­nat­ics by Fe­bru­ary. One po­ten­tial ex­pla­na­tion for the drop-off: in­jury. Many bod­ies that walk into the gym aren’t ready for the move­ments they’ll do there, says Aaron Brooks, a biome­chan­ics ex­pert. Be­fore you be­gin a fit­ness pro­gramme, it’s im­por­tant to iden­tify mus­cles weak­nesses and im­bal­ances, and cor­rect them be­fore chal­leng­ing your body with in­tense train­ing.

Many com­mon body im­bal­ances can be dif­fi­cult to spot—one hip higher than the other, a knee turned in, or a pelvis that’s tilted wrong—and they can re­sult in in­jury or slow your progress at the gym. A guide like The Ath­letic Body in Bal­ance can help you find weak­nesses your­self, and per­form cor­rec­tive ex­er­cises at home, while an Func­tional Move­ment Screen­ing-cer­ti­fied per­sonal trainer can per­form tests and pre­scribe sim­i­lar moves (and mon­i­tor your progress) to help you get on track— ask at your gym if any train­ers have the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

Within a mat­ter of a few weeks, you’ll be ready to tackle the moves that will make you stronger and leaner this year, with less risk of in­jury and bet­ter pat­terns for in­creased re­sults. Oh, and the gym will be less crowded by then, too.

Don’t Skip Desserts

It’s com­mon sense that skip­ping dessert just makes you want it more, but science proves it: In a 2010 study pub­lished in the jour­nal Obe­sity, di­eters who were re­stricted from eat­ing a small dessert were more likely to be left “want­ing” than those who had a bite of sweets. “Di­eters had stronger crav­ings with­out dessert,” says Dawn Jack­son Blat­ner, a nutri­tion con­sul­tant in Chicago. Skip­ping “will back­fire.”

So don’t drop the sweets if you want suc­cess: di­vide them into two buck­ets and con­quer your crav­ings. “Bucket one is deca­dent—molten choco­late cake, red vel­vet cup­cakes. Those are so­cial sweets only,” she says. “When you’re out with a friend or on a date, eat those. En­joy them, so­cialise, and have fun.” But on reg­u­lar nights, stick with ev­ery­day desserts—what Blat­ner calls “fancy fruits,” such as pureed frozen banana “soft serve” or warm chopped ap­ple with ap­ple pie spice. Each of these sat­is­fies a sweet tooth, Blat­ner says, and in­cludes a nutri­tional bonus— vi­ta­mins, min­er­als, and fi­bre that can keep you full.

If dessert isn’t your weak­ness, ap­ply this ad­vice to the food you love. The key is to find things you can rea­son­ably do within your own lim­its, and you’ll find suc­cess. “If you can’t live with­out Chi­nese food, but you can cut your por­tion in half and add in more nu­tri­ents, do that,” says Va­lerie Berkowitz, direc­tor of nutri­tion at the Cen­ter for Bal­anced Health.

Don’t Cou nt Calo­ries

The ques­tion isn’t if you’ve tried a diet, but how many—it’s not that you haven’t found the right one for you, says Blat­ner. It’s that there is no right one. “If they worked, peo­ple wouldn’t be look­ing for the next one,” she says. “Most peo­ple al­ready know the stuff in diet books. A diet is in­for­ma­tion. But you want trans­for­ma­tion.”

In­stead of fo­cus­ing on de­priv­ing your­self, or count­ing points, or calo­ries, learn to count on your­self, she says. “For con­tin­ued suc­cess, you want to build con­fi­dence in your­self, not in a book or a [calo­rie-count­ing] app,” Blat­ner says. “You don’t need to know calo­ries. You need to know that what you’re cur­rently eat­ing isn’t work­ing for you. If you eat a lit­tle less than what you’re eat­ing, and im­prove the qual­ity of the food a lit­tle bit … by do­ing that, you’ll de­crease the calo­ries. It’s more sus­tain­able.”

“Wipe your plate clean for the New Year—start with a fresh pic­ture of your­self, and try to eat nat­u­rally,” Berkowitz adds. “Eat what you know you’re sup­posed to be eat­ing, not foods filled with sug­ars or ad­di­tives or preser­va­tives.” In­stead of count­ing calo­ries, fo­cus on do­ing health­ier things like eat­ing more veg­eta­bles and keep­ing por­tions in check. “Six months from now, [you may feel like] a dif­fer­ent per­son,” Blat­ner says.

Fo­cus on Get­ting Stronger

In re­al­ity, mus­cle “tone” just means the de­vel­op­ment of your mus­cle, not

how lean or lithe it ap­pears. But the prob­lem isn’t with the ter­mi­nol­ogy— it’s with the not-so-wise con­ven­tional wis­dom of how many peo­ple ap­proach get­ting the lean body they crave.

“Ev­ery­thing you hear in the gym about how it’s high reps for look­ing lean, low reps for bulk,” says Nick Tum­minello, a strength and con­di­tion­ing coach in Florida and direc­tor of Per­for­mance Univer­sity. But that’s not the com­plete pic­ture.

Ac­cord­ing to re­search, the path to hy­per­tro­phy—big­ger mus­cles— is with 12 to 20 sets of 8 to 15 (or more) reps per week. This strat­egy in­creases the to­tal time your mus­cles are un­der ten­sion, and the mus­cu­lar “pump” that comes when your mus­cles are en­gorged with blood af­ter a long set—both of which need to be in­volved for sus­tained hy­per­trophic gains, says Tum­minello. When you per­form shorter, heav­ier sets (of 6 reps, for ex­am­ple), the ef­fect is pri­mar­ily neu­ro­mus­cu­lar— your mus­cle will still get slightly big­ger, but not as much, but it will get a lot stronger.

But that doesn’t mean you should avoid long sets if you want to avoid bulk. For ‘toned’ re­sults you can see, such as a lifted butt and lean arms, you need to de­velop those mus­cles with higher reps. For mus­cles you want to strengthen for the sake of fit­ness, calo­rie burn, lean tis­sue, and fat loss, but you don’t want to nec­es­sar­ily fea­ture, such as your back and quads, shorter reps are the way to go.

Ditch the Scale

We’re not say­ing to skip the scale all to­gether—in fact, stud­ies show you should weigh your­self every day for best re­sults. Sci­en­tists in Min­nesota found that di­eters who stepped on the scale daily lost twice as much weight as those who weighed them­selves less fre­quently, or es­chewed the scale com­pletely.

But num­bers can be mis­lead­ing: On the first day of your men­strual cy­cle, for in­stance, you’ll be re­tain­ing the most wa­ter, which can lead to a heav­ier weigh-in, ac­cord­ing to a year-long Cana­dian study. In gen­eral, as one study puts it, your weight is sub­ject to “nor­mal cyclic fluc­tu­a­tions”—mean­ing that num­bers some­times do lie.

The les­son: Find ad­di­tional means of mea­sur­ing. Buy a tai­lor’s mea­sur­ing tape and use it to keep track of your waist, chest, thigh, calf, arm, and even wrist mea­sure­ments. When one goes down, cel­e­brate, and when oth­ers go up, find one that’s headed in the right di­rec­tion. Or choose a piece of cloth­ing that’s cur­rently snug. When it starts to feel loose, you’re pro­gress­ing. When a tighter piece starts to fit bet­ter, you’re headed in the right di­rec­tion, too—no mat­ter what the scale says.

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