New Year’s Fitness Resolutions Done Right

It’s almost magical. Right after the New Year, people resolving to get in shape to be healthier, fitter or just look good for their MySpace profile, pack the gyms for a couple of weeks and then disappear, nowhere near reaching their resolutions. In my opinion, the lack of fitness knowledge is the #1 reason why many people do not achieve their goals. So let’s put an end to that right now. Here’s a fitness crash-course that’ll get you started.

Step 1: Hire a personal trainer. I cannot stress this enough. Do not think you can do this on your own. When your car breaks down or you get sick, you see a professional to handle things. Why should your fitness be any different? See a fitness professional. I’m not talking about a $40/hour trainer that counts reps and asks about your personal life. I’m talking about a nationally certified trainer through groups like the National Academy of Sports Medicine that will ensure you receive individualized testing and training.

When someone walks into my gym, the first thing we do is a full assessment: posture analysis, fat-to-muscle ratio, strengths and weaknesses. Once we know the basics, we design a workout and a diet for their individual needs. You don’t know how many people tell me that a good trainer is too expensive, but then turn around and spend the same amount of money on a Coach handbag or a Playstation 3. Buying material things won’t extend your life, investing in your health can.

Tip: When hiring a personal trainer ask what types of workouts they do themselves and how frequently. There is no substitute for hands-on experience with strength, cardiovascular and flexibility training.

Step 2: Eat properly and hydrate yourself. Nutrition is responsible for approximately 70% of what you look like. A proper diet should have a small caloric deficit based on what that person should be consuming while making sure there is enough protein to build and repair muscle, enough carbohydrates to provide energy and enough fat to ensure cells reproduce and stay healthy. A small, balanced and controlled meal every three hours is a good start. You won’t feel hungry throughout the day and you’ll speed up your metabolism, which is therate at which your body burns calories to sustain life.

Water is one of the most important ingredients for life. Over 70% of our muscles consist of water. Water is needed for all metabolic processes, including protein synthesis. It helps get rid of toxins, it is important in fat metabolism and it can reduce fluid retention. A good rule is to drink 10 cups of water per day, increasing it during the summer and during hardcore training sessions. Even the slightest bit of dehydration can make you feel sluggish and hold you back during your training sessions. Never ignore water intake!

Tip: Don’t listen to Nicole Ritchie; starving yourself is never good. After a short period of time, your body will go into a panic state. You are losing your energy stores too fast and your body will do everything it can to slow down or put a stop to it. The first thing that happens is that your metabolism slows down. You won’t burn as many calories during the day, regardless of how much you eat or exercise. Next, your body will step up its burning of muscle tissue, since muscle requires more energy to maintain, in order to hold onto its fat stores. This vicious cycle will continue every time you further reduce calories in order to compensate for a slower metabolism.

Step 3: Exercise. Exercise at least three hours a week if you want to affect any kind of change within your body. Cardio workouts will promote a strong heart, burn fat, and maximize the result of your workout in the least amount of time. Resistance training will build muscle, which in turn requires the body to burn more calories. There’s a tendency for people to focus solely on cardio. In the fitness industry, we call these people Cardio Queens because they’re mostly female and all they want to do is 45 minutes of cardio a day. If you keep doing the same routine, your body will adjust to it and your workout will plateau, so mix things up!

Tip: Incorporate Quick Cardio. Start thinking of fitness as a cumulative endeavor. Try to find time for brief spurts of exercise when it’s expedient and you’ll increase your metabolism more than you would during a two-hour session.

With resistance training, the goal is to increase your Basal Metabolic Rate: the amount of energy expended while at rest. Each pound of muscle burns approximately 60 calories a day without you having to lift a finger! Example: gain 5 lbs of muscle and burn an extra 300 calories a day without a sweat. The good thing is you can build muscle without looking like the Governator. That’s why you sometimes see those fit people eating giant portions of food. It’s because they have a high muscle-to-fat ratio and all that muscle is burning up those extra calories.

Tip: Lift an appropriate amount of weight. The amount of weight you lift should make your muscles feel tired after 10-12 repetitions. A weight that causes fatigue at 10 repetitions is an effective stimulus for muscle strength and toning.

Whatever your fitness plans are, try to stick with it for 6 weeks. If you can last that long, fitness will become a habit and eventually a lifestyle. Imagine that: a New Year’s resolution you won’t renew next year!

Kiss Away Your Calories: Kissing can help you lose weight, relax, express love, boost your immune system, improve self-esteem, manage stress and stimulate your brain. Engaging in long make-out sessions with your partner is not only good for your relationship; it’s also good for your waistline. A 20 minute make-out session with your partner each evening could burn up to 100 calories a day. That’s 36,500 calories a year, or just over 10 pounds worth of weight loss. When was the last time you made out with your partner?