So January 1 is quickly approaching, and you’re ready to start the year off with a clean slate—a fresh perspective to set and tackle your goals, and make 2021 your best year yet. But there’s a chance that once a few weeks go by, and you might find your motivation waning and you start sliding back into old habits. After all, willpower can only get you so far in achieving your goals.
When the excitement wears off is where the real work sets in. If you promised yourself you’d get back in shape, finally lose those 20 pounds, get more sleep, or drink more water, here’s how to make sure you stay on track, even if you end up veering off a bit.
Here are some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions, and how you can stick with them all through 2021. See the steps toward success and then consider rounding out your list with a few extra goals from our list of 15 Underrated Weight Loss Tips That Actually Work.
Keeping your goals focused can help keep you focused on your goals, too. Knowing exactly why you want to achieve your goals is the first step to crushing them. “Identify your why and really go into detail,” suggests Jillian Michaels, the fitness expert known for her work on NBC’s reality weight-loss competition show The Biggest Loser. “Not like, ‘I want better health.’ I don’t know what that means. Maybe it’s, ‘I want to keep up with my two toddlers.’ ‘I want to run the New York City Marathon.’ Those kinds of things. Post it everywhere and emotionally connect to it. Because let’s be honest: Pizza is going to taste better than chicken any day of the week. However, whatever it is that matters to you, if you [really care] about it, it’s going to matter more than pizza.” Speaking of the cheesy fare, find out these 19 Tricks for Ordering a Healthier Pizza for Weight Loss.
“The key to losing weight is to exercise intelligently and to truly challenge your body every time you hit the gym. If you do the same workout all the time, you won’t make progress,” says Dan Roberts, celebrity trainer and creator of Methodology X. Once you switch up your workouts and challenge yourself, such as by adding a HIIT routine or using heavier dumbbells, you’ll drop the pounds faster and continue losing weight. To get more ideas on how to drop the numbers on your scale, check out these Top 10 Rules You Must Follow Every Day to Lose 10 Pounds.
There’s a reason the treadmill is also known as the “dreadmill”—the seemingly endless run is definitely not something we’d consider fun. Amp up your workout without spending an extra minute on the dreaded machine with one simple trick: “All it takes to torch 15% more calories on the treadmill is a little incline,” says Michaels. The stronger adrenaline boost and higher calorie burn is a great way to get you back on the cardio track sooner than you thought!
According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need seven to nine hours of sleep a night to function properly. Inadequate shut-eye hours can lead to a decrease in leptin levels, which, in turn, increases your appetite and derails your weight loss efforts. “Motivate yourself to get to sleep earlier by changing your environment. If you have trouble sleeping, don’t force it. Get green sheets, as the color provides the best relaxation benefits for sleep. Tart cherry juice contains natural melatonin, and wearing socks to bed keeps body temperature regulated to help you fall asleep faster,” advises Jay Cardiello, who has worked with celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez and 50 Cent. Cardiello also suggests taking a detox from electronics right before bed since the blue light delays your melatonin production.
“Cut out sugary drinks, soda, juices, and especially alcohol,” advises Insanity creator Shaun T. “These drinks cause weight gain, bloat, and pack on extra pounds. By simply substituting caloric drinks for water, you can see immediate changes and lose weight over time. If you find water boring, jazz it up with some sliced lemon, lime, oranges, mint, or cucumber.”
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Fun fact: 12% of all gym-goers sign up in January and it takes 24 weeks for most members to quit, according to the Fitness Industry Association, Whether it’s because the gym is too far or usually too crowded, you can beat the statistics with a few simple tricks.
“Shop for a gym like you’re shopping for a car. Ask for a free trial and make sure the people at [the] front desk are happy and enthusiastic enough to attract you in. If you’re making the investment to join a gym, you should let it keep you there. Also, ask for free personal training sessions and talk to members to find out what they like about each spot,” advises Cardiello.
And with the state of the world, there are plenty of virtual workout experiences you can sign up for so you can keep working toward your goals, safely at home.
If you’ve already signed up for virtual classes or have made a strict outdoor workout plan, you’re going to want to make sure you don’t fall off. To increase your chances of actually sticking to your goals, Cardiello suggests adopting effective rituals, such as packing a gym bag the night before and placing your sneakers on the side of your bed. Having your workout gear in plain sight and ready to grab and go will make it much easier to pursue your goals. But when life happens and you can’t make it to your sweat sesh, keep your fitness resolution by trying these 21 Sneaky Ways To Work Out—Without Hitting the Gym.
“If you want to stick to something, you have to make it as simple as possible. Complexity is the enemy of execution,” Cardiello says. “Tell yourself, ‘Today I will drink a cup of water before dinner.’ Starting small and setting a simple goal will make it easier to accomplish.” We like the way you think, Cardiello. Psst! These scary things that happen to your body when you stop drinking water should provide ample motivation to get you to refill your bottle once more.
It’s not a myth—abs are definitely made in the kitchen. According to Mark Langowski, the expert who helped Good Morning America‘s Ginger Zee scorch four inches of fat, including protein- and healthy fat-rich foods like lean fish, eggs, beans, and leafy greens into your diet will help keep you full while revealing those abs! Replace refined carbs and processed foods in your pantry with these staples to ensure you incorporate them into your diet.
“Before breaking a sweat, take a moment of gratitude for your health. Doing so completely changes the energy of your workouts and can inspire you to push yourself harder,” advises Kit Rich, who has trained superstar celebs like Kesha and Jennifer Lawrence.
“Diets don’t work, but behavioral change does. When you want to create a meal plan that works, stick to addition rather than deprivation,” says Cardiello. So, rather than cutting out a food group like carbs, try these 25 Easy Ways To Add Superfoods Into Your Diet. “If [the food] goes bad, that means it’s good for you. When you go shopping, avoid the bulls-eyed zone, as it is eye level with shoppers. This is where leading brands place items that can run up your food bill. Instead, save money and look up and down for local- and smaller-named brands, which will help the savvy shopper stay within budget.”
Good news: cooking a nutritious meal at home doesn’t require hours in the kitchen! Even if you have less than a half hour to spare, you can still sit down to a healthy lunch and dinner. The key is to stock up on healthy and nutritious foods that are easily thrown together.
“When I’m short on time, my go-to meal is a fattoush salad. It’s a traditional Middle Eastern salad with a big, bold vinaigrette. It starts with a store-bought rotisserie chicken, which saves loads of time, and it’s made up of any odds and ends you may have in the fridge,” nationally-renowned chef and TV personality Dean Sheremet shares with us. For more tasty ideas, check out these 53 Healthy Chicken Recipes!
Vow to “unplug from technology for an hour a day and spend that time reading a real book (yes, they still exist), doing yoga, taking a walk, meditating—whatever relaxes you and makes you happy! The constant attention-grabbing chirping that our phones, tablets, and computers make has an impact on our stress levels, sleep, and perspective. And since stress and sleep both play a role in health and weight loss, powering down can help you stay trim, too,” explains Harley Pasternak M.SC, who’s trained a ton of Hollywood A-listers like Lady Gaga and Megan Fox.
We all know that vegetables are packed with fiber and essential vitamins and nutrients, but most of us still don’t get enough of the stuff on a daily basis. In fact, according to Health Day, only one in ten Americans eat the daily recommended amount of veggies. To help reach your quota, try Sheremet’s healthy breakfast recipe. “I’ll heat up some coconut oil in an iron skillet, grate half a sweet potato in, and make a sort of hash brown. Then, I’ll throw in some diced onion, smoked paprika, and kale and let that cook until slightly browned. Finally, I’ll stir in three or four eggs and make my version of a breakfast hash.” Sounds delish!
The sweet stuff has a stealthy way of sneaking into the most healthy-sounding foods. So if your sweet tooth kicks in, cutting back on desserts like cookies and ice cream may not be enough, explains Shaun T. Make sure to actively “scan nutrition labels of foods that don’t even taste sweet. Sugar is hiding everywhere—even bacon has sugar in it!”
It’s why best-selling author and creator of Eat This, Not That!, David Zinczenko, wrote Zero Sugar Diet. With the simple steps in Zero Sugar Diet, you’ll be able to eat all your favorite foods and strip away unnecessary sugars—losing weight at a rate of up to one pound per day, while still enjoying the sweeter things in life.
“I had a client ask if she could lose 10 pounds in a month. I told her that while it was possible, the process would leave her feeling miserable, hungry, and overtrained. She didn’t look pleased. I told her that the healthy way to reach her goal is to chip away at the weight slowly. This will allow her to enjoy life and actually think of working out as a pleasure. At the end of the day, what’s the point of losing 10 pounds if you aren’t going to enjoy or the process or be happy?” Sheremet points out. When it comes to weight loss, follow the old adage: slow and steady wins the race.
“Sitting is the new smoking,” Shaun T warns. “If we can sit less and walk more, it’s possible to make great physical improvements. Thankfully, there are so many ways to move more throughout the day: Take the stairs, park your car farther away from your destination, get a standing desk or walk around while you talk on the phone. Get an activity tracker and aim for 10,000 steps each day.” For more ways to step your way slim, check out these 30 Tips When You’re Walking for Weight Loss!