Every year, people talk about improving themselves, saying this is the year they'll finally get into amazing shape and stick to a plan. But every year, so many don't make it to their goals. What's the difference between you and them? You're about to read this list, for one, and it outlines a plan you can use all year long to be #betterthanyesterday.
Prime the engine with 20 push-ups upon waking
For your new morning routine, try 20 push-ups the minute you get out of bed. Do them five at a time, or all at once. Or maybe turn them into burpees. Whatever suits you, make it happen, because getting your blood pumping first thing in the AM is the ticket to clarity through lunchtime (and possibly the key to breaking your next plateau in the gym).
Stay hungry and see if intermittent fasting is right for you
Do you hate going hungry? It's not great — at first. But by simply not eating for a significant part of the day, even as little as one day a week or one whole day each month, you can help train your body to burn fats as fuel and modulate cravings for sugar and snacks. Like meditation, intermittent fasting is a tool used by elite athletes, business professionals, and others who need to be at the top of their game, and it’s been praised as a way to sharpen discipline, boost cognition, and even fix digestion issues that could be holding you back.
To start, we suggest 16/8 intermittent fasting (16 hours fasting, 8-hour feeding window) Monday-Friday. Once that gets easy, move to 20/4 intermittent fasting and see the body fat drop and mental boosts kick into overdrive.
While spending money isn’t always the answer to your problems, having the right gear is always a step in the right direction. Stylish workout shorts that won’t wear out, a soft and breathable pullover for morning runs, and shirts made to keep you looking great while soaking up gym sweat can all be found over at Ten Thousand. This is one thing you can feel great about shopping for — because when you use your workout gear, it’s worth every penny.
(Un)sweeten the deal – have your coffee black and drinks neat or on the rocks
You already know what’s good for you, and you probably eat pretty well, but we all have things we can work on. In 2018, cut out the sugar and cream from your coffee and opt for your drinks neat or on the rocks. Just by substituting these two things with better options, you can make sustainable changes that will hugely benefit your health in the long run.
Limit Postmates to once a week and get cooking
Yes, cooking is way more of a hassle than just ordering delivery or stopping into Chipotle on your way home. And doing dishes after a meal is an absolute chore. But if you want tighter control over your diet and overall health, you need to entrust the meal-making process to the person who knows you best — yourself. Not to mention, the sense of accomplishment when you serve up a perfect meal, even if it’s just for yourself, is pretty amazing. This year, limit your Postmates or Uber Eats
Test some new waters and pick up a new way to get fit
Maybe you’ve been a gym rat for years. This year, resolve to buy a bike and join a local cycling club, or pick up some great running shoes and work your way up to 30 miles a week. You’ll feel like a whole new person, and maybe you’ll find that you were meant to be an endurance athlete (or vice-versa, you could have been a lifelong runner who responds well to lifting heavy).
See the softer side and invest in massage therapy
You can go a long way on solid workouts, a healthy diet, and adequate rest. But sometimes, you need to really punish the body to make it adapt, as any elite athlete can tell you. And when you do that, you may need a bit of outside help. Enter the massage therapist and chiropractor. By scheduling a massage every couple of weeks that focuses on your problem areas, you can work out the kinks and get back under the weights (or into the pool, or onto the track) quicker than ever. If you have trouble making the time for a full-body massage every week, buying a foam roller or a small massage tool to use on yourself can absolutely work wonders.
Focus on the details
If you aren’t using the proper form for your workouts — from squats and deadlifts to curls and even push-ups — you’re short-changing yourself. There are illustrated guides and how-to videos for every exercise on the planet, and there’s no reason for you to suffer slow gains or even injuries because you needed to tweak your technique with the weights. This year, make a concentrated effort to do it right and feel the difference.
Rest up and stretch out your sleep time
When you’re charging hard, whether it’s in the office or in the gym, your mind and body need more time to recover than if you were out there taking it easy. By stretching out your sleep time, even just a couple of hours total per week, you’ll be lowering your levels of stress hormones (like cortisol, which most scientists believe to be the belly-fat hormone) and boosting your body’s natural production of testosterone. Those are some pretty serious benefits for literally no extra work on your end.
Slow down – in the gym and when eating
This comes in two parts: at the gym, focus on the time your muscles spend under tension. By slamming through reps, you aren’t typically getting the full benefit of the weight you’re lifting. Inertia can do part of the work of moving the weight, and your connective tissues end up taking some of the strain that’s meant for your muscles, leading to soreness and joint injury. Slowing down your reps means the muscles themselves are doing all the work they’re meant to — and you’ll reap the benefits soon enough.
Slowing down while eating is a good idea, too. By chewing your food more, you’re breaking it down better than your gut could do alone, meaning you absorb more nutrients per meal than you might otherwise. Eating slowly also gives your stomach the chance to tell your brain it’s had enough, which prevents you from overeating and regretting it later.