As we are approaching the dawn of 2024 after two month, many of us will once again resolve to make sweeping changes in our lives. The familiar promises to shed pounds, adopt a healthier lifestyle, and commit to fitness are a common refrain. But let’s be real—how often do these resolutions truly survive beyond January? The stark reality is that only eight percent of us will see our resolutions through to the end. But fear not, for there’s a better way to ensure success and follow through on your promises.
The key to lasting success lies in conquering those crucial first 17 days of the new year. It’s during this time that momentum is built, and victory becomes a habit. By adhering to a few essential fitness rules, you can guarantee your success and set achievable mini-goals for those critical initial 17 days, ensuring you stay on track and accountable. With this plan, you’ll continue to reap the rewards long after the “New Year, New You” hype has faded into the background.
Rule 1: Consistency Is Your Greatest Ally
The mistake many make is to dive headfirst into radical changes on January 1st. “From now on, I’ll exercise every day, embrace a Paleo diet, and quit drinking,” they proclaim. But, let’s face it, such drastic measures aren’t sustainable. Instead, consider a different approach: commit to manageable changes that allow you to build consistency and form new habits during the first 17 days. Afterward, you can gradually add more to your routine.
17-Day Goal: Pledge to three to four workouts per week with a target of 90% adherence.
Rule 2: Fuel Your Body Right
Diets can be daunting, requiring a complete overhaul of your kitchen, hours spent cooking, and an attempt to make bland food taste good. By January 17, you might be craving an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet. Here’s a simpler strategy: stick to your usual meals but focus on portion control. Prioritize protein to build muscle, stay satisfied, and burn fat, while including ample veggies to provide the essential nutrients your body craves.
17-Day Goal: Aim for two palm-sized portions of protein and two fist-sized servings of vegetables in each meal, striving for 80% adherence.
Rule 3: Embrace Cardio
Prepare to have your perception of fitness shaken up. Instead of intense interval training, kick off the New Year with steady, low-intensity cardio—think 130 to 150 heartbeats per minute for 30 to 60 minutes. High-intensity workouts too soon can take a toll on your joints and leave you drained. In contrast, aerobic exercise enhances your heart health, mental clarity, recovery, stress resilience, and overall fitness without the risk of overexertion.
17-Day Goal: Incorporate 30 to 45 minutes of steady-state aerobic cardio at least once a week.
Rule 4: Build Strength
For the initial 17 days of the year, ditch the ineffective bicep curls and opt for exercises that genuinely transform your body: squats, lunges, presses, rows, deadlifts, and pull-ups. However, don’t get comfortable with the same weights. Challenge your muscles by adding 2.5 to 5 pounds to each exercise every time you work out. This approach forces your muscles to adapt and grow.
17-Day Goal: Aim for a 10% increase in weights for all exercises.
Rule 5: Earn Your Carbs
Don’t start 2022 by banishing all carbs from your plate; you’ll quickly burn out. Your body needs carbohydrates to replenish your energy reserves after a strenuous workout and regulate the metabolism-controlling hormone called “leptin.” Here’s a smarter strategy: consume carbs only when your training demands the extra energy. An hour at the gym? Go for it. But after sixteen sedentary hours? Not a chance.
17-Day Goal: Include two fist-sized portions of healthy carbs such as whole grains, potatoes, quinoa, rice, and fruit in your meals before and after workouts.
Rule 6: Prioritize Quality Sleep
Sleep isn’t just a luxury; it’s your body’s vital recovery and regeneration period. Poor sleep quality can hinder your progress, even if you’re exercising vigorously and monitoring your diet meticulously. In fact, focusing on improving your sleep could be the game-changer you’ve been searching for.
17-Day Goal: Aim for a minimum of eight hours of quality sleep at least five nights a week. Avoid electronic devices, which disrupt your circadian rhythm, for one hour before bedtime.
Rule 7: Conquer Stress
Daily stress, be it from work, bills, or the daily commute, not only raises your blood pressure but also inundates your body with stress hormones. These hormones hinder muscle growth, limit fat loss, and sabotage your performance in the gym and in life. Defeat the stress of the first 17 days of the year by dedicating a few minutes each day to meditation or relaxation. Your body will thank you.
17-Day Goal: Set aside 10 minutes each day to close your eyes, relax, meditate, take a catnap, or practice breathing exercises. All these activities will contribute to your overall well-being.
Now, go out there and conquer your resolutions! Your journey to a better you starts with these first 17 days, but the rewards will last a lifetime. Embrace the challenge and make 2022 your year of transformation.