The Best New Year’s Resolutions to Burn Fat

Anthony J. Yeung
by Anthony J. Yeung
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The Best New Year’s Resolutions to Burn Fat

Year after year, millions of Americans commit to New Year’s resolutions, but only a very small percentage of us actually achieve our goals — the number is as low as about 9%. This year, let’s double down with tried-and-true resolutions that make us healthier and are more likely to lead to success.

1. DRINK MORE WATER

Whether you’re trying to lose 20 pounds or take your fitness to the next level, hydration is important. Drinking the right amount of water helps keep your metabolism high, blood circulating and lets you get the most from your exercise.

For non math lovers, here’s a good rule of thumb: Drink enough water throughout the day so your urine is clear or light yellow. Also, remember: the higher your activity level, the more water you should drink.

Finally, avoid regular and diet sodas, energy drinks and sugary coffee drinks — these come with a lot of calories and can negatively affect your health.


READ MORE > 4 WAYS WATER HELPS WITH WEIGHT LOSS


2. GET 7–9 HOURS OF SLEEP

If you really want to improve your health and fitness, make sleep one of your highest priorities.

Even if you go to the gym and train religiously, without proper sleep, you won’t get the results you want. Worse, poor sleep has been linked to diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

If you want to make 2018 your healthiest year yet (and maximize muscle growth and fat loss), try to get eight hours of deep, restful sleep every night. It isn’t always easy, but do what you can. Also, see natural light during the day, stop using bright electronics an hour before bedtime, keep your bedroom cool, quiet and dark and avoid caffeinated drinks late in the day.


READ MORE > SLEEP EXPERT DR. G OFFERS FOUR TIPS TO IMPROVE SLEEP


3. EAT HEALTHY 80% OF THE TIME

Your nutrition will make or break your fitness goals. The good thing, however, is you don’t have to eat perfectly all the time. In fact, you can still enjoy the occasional pizza, beer or ice cream and still get great results.

Set a goal to eat healthy 80% of the time. For those meals, eat whole foods: lean meats, lots of vegetables, healthy fats and good sources of carbs. It’ll lead to more muscle gain, fat loss and overall health improvements.

4. ADD RESISTANCE TRAINING

Lifting weights will help you achieve your fitness goals because it helps you add muscle, burn fat, improve your body composition and boost your metabolism.

Aim to lift weights at least 2–3 times a week and do a workout consisting of free weights (not machines). The best exercises are traditional strength moves like deadlifts, bench presses, squats, rows, pullups and lunges.

5. AND DON’T FORGET AEROBIC CARDIO

Do 1–2 aerobic cardio workouts per week. Instead of high-intensity cardio, I highly recommend aerobic cardio (i.e. your heart rate stays between 120–150 bpm) for 30–45 minutes. Things like jogs, hikes, bike rides, rowing machines, etc., can do wonders for you.

First, aerobic cardio has sweeping health benefits — among them improving brain and heart health. Second, it’s the foundation for all other forms of cardio. Even when you do a bunch of sprints, it’s your aerobic system that recovers your body while you rest.

Finally, doing light aerobic workouts each week helps you burn fat without running your body into the ground. If you’re lifting weights a few times a week while juggling an extremely busy and stressful life, high-intensity cardio could push your body over the edge.

6. TAKE TIME EACH DAY TO DE-STRESS

Any doctor would agree too much stress is bad for your health. It can even affect your waistline and fitness performance. In a Yale study, scientists found stress was associated with poor muscle recovery after a workout, even when correcting for fitness level and training experience.

Instead, spend 10 minutes each day to relax and unwind. For example, take a break in the middle of the day for a quiet walk outside with no phone, meditate at home after work or listen to relaxing music during your coffee break.

Just taking a few minutes per day will boost your mood and improve your mental and physical health.

7. STAY TRUE TO YOUR GOAL

As you improve your health in the new year, you might notice more and more external pressure to pull you back. Maybe your family criticizes your new way of living or your friends insist you join them for a late night out.

Whatever the situation may be, you have to make a choice whether or not to stick to your goals. To be among those who achieve our New Year’s resolutions, one of the most important things to do is to allow yourself to say “no.” It’ll be hard at first, but the more you do it, the easier it’ll be and the healthier you’ll become.

About the Author

Anthony J. Yeung
Anthony J. Yeung

Anthony, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, is a fitness expert at Esquire, GQ and Men’s Health and gets guys in shape for their wedding at GroomBuilder.

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13 responses to “The Best New Year’s Resolutions to Burn Fat”

  1. Avatar Ellen Fleischer says:

    Diet sodas come with a lot of calories? I don’t think so…

    • Avatar Lardylady says:

      True not calorie high but numerous studies show the pancreas is fooled by the artificial sweeteners in low calorie drinks and can trigger an insulin spike anyway and that is not good for the body. Good old water is far better for quenching thirst, flushing out toxins and brightening skin and eyes whilst softening fine lines due to its plumping effect. And it’s free – what’s not to like!

      • Avatar Cameron Brown says:

        Soda Stream to make fizzy water helps me consume more since I don’t like flat water and need the carbonation for a natural buzz.

  2. Avatar John P. Cioccio says:

    Why free weights, as opposed to strength machines?

    • Avatar Stephen Holyoake says:

      Strength machines usually restrict range of movement and isolate muscle groups. Free weights allow more muscles to be worked at the same time promoting more growth and fat burning and less injuries.

    • Avatar Ladybeedough says:

      If you have any joint issues, weakened muscle groups, or are just beginning, machines can be safer because they isolate muscle groups and prevent a huge range of motion. It all depends on your fitness and comfort level. If you’re using machines, just be sure it’s a balanced workout. If you work the triceps, work your biceps, etc.

    • Avatar funkybro says:

      I have found, personally, that free weights provoke a much better training response from my body than do machines. I’d always assumed it was because of the need for secondary muscles to provide an assist with balance and strength.

  3. Avatar Larry Rewis says:

    I’ve had 8 back surgeries and I’m fused from T10-L5S1, so it’s fair to say that I’m not very flexible-even more reason to stay as flexible as possible and keep my core strong. I lost 50 lbs this last year and I’m now down to 173 (at 5’8.5″). And I still have some fat loss to go. I’m eating 6 small meals a day, drinking half my body weight in oz. of water daily, and I’m getting between 6-8 hrs of sleep. LIFE is GREAT. However, I can’t seem to find an exercise routine for me with my back issues. Is there anybody out there that can give me one? Need help in AZ. Thanks

    • Avatar Ian Jarman says:

      Start with Stuart McGill PhD’s book “Back Mechanic”. Then progress slowly through isometric core strength, and then, if things are going well, pick up a barbell or kettlebell and begin a gradual weight lifting routine. Get help from a trainer if you can afford it. Good Luck!

    • Avatar RickNSanDiego says:

      Hello Larry and Happy New Years! I do water aerobics because it uses every muscle in your body by doing resistance exercises. I think we are in the same boat. I had 3 knee replacements on the same knee since 2004. I also have had 11 neck surgeries including fusions. laminectomy’s, and 3 surgeries for a huge infection from them. I’m fused from C-3 to C-6. It helps loosen up the knees and the back/neck. Keep in touch. I usually go to the gym and pool 5 times a week.

  4. Avatar Angel Denning says:

    This article is so spot-on! As a previous health coach and someone who worked out almost daily this is just the re-boot I needed. I have lapsed for quite a while and have been trying to get my mojo back. This article very simply put everything back into perspective that I already knew but just couldn’t get back on track with. I allowed my backslide to guide me when really it is all just this simple! Love yourself, i’m coming back! Thank you!

  5. Avatar Victor Doroski says:

    Where is the sound evidence that diet sweeteners add weight or are unhealthy? I suspect what negative statements there are may be sponsored by the sugar industry. Also, I would appreciate a clear discussion of why free weights are so much better than machines. I suspect free weights train accessory muscles better but I question if that compensates for the greater likelihood of injury.

    • Avatar Bill Sirakos says:

      I can only speak from personal experience. Three years ago I began experiencing an increasing number of PVC’s (premature ventricular contractions) where it felt like my heart was missing a beat. I first noticed it after my morning cardio workout and didn’t think anything of it at first. But the PVC’s grew in number and intensity until I became alarmed at what seemed to be happening to my heart.

      I went to my doctor who did a treadmill test and determined to send me to a cardiologist. It turns out that nearly 25% of my heartbeats were “misses” and each time it happened it seemed like someone was knocking the breath out of me. The cardiologist recommended that I have an ablation of the heart where the “electrician” goes up through the femoral artery and fries certain nerves in the heart that make the PVCs happen. My GP cautioned me to not jump too hastily to have that done as lifelong complications could result. The cardiologist insisted that I was nearing a life-threatening situation if I didn’t address it. My GP told me to, instead, keep a food diary and every time I had a bout of intense PVC’s to write down what I’d eaten, as PVC’s are sometimes caused by what’s going on in the gut and not the heart.

      I was one week out from having the ablation when I poured myself a cup of decaf coffee and laced it with Splenda and cream. My heart lit up like it was the 4th of July. I knew it had to be either decaf, Splenda or cream that did it. I went back and looked at my food log and the common ingredient every time I had severe PVC’s was “sucralose” which is what Splenda is. I cut out all forms of sucralose (it’s in a lot of stuff; had to become a label reader) and the PVC’s vanished. Totally. Cardiologist didn’t believe me, but his stethoscope didn’t lie. I’m now essentially PVC free. I won’t touch sucralose or most other artificial sweeteners now, and instead use honey, stevia, or just take my drinks without a sweetener.

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