Life

FOOD, FITNESS AND FINANCES: TIPS FOR THE NEW YEAR

Are you one of those people who make empty promises to yourself each year as the calendar winds down?

Stop beating yourself up over your failure to keep those half-hearted New Year’s resolutions to eat less, exercise more and spend less. Instead, follow this sound advice from highly rated experts in the fields of food, fitness and finance to get 2015 off to a good start.

FOOD CAN BE YOUR FRIEND

Food is the No. 1 downfall of those trying to live a healthier lifestyle, says Kevin Stewart, owner and trainer at highly rated Stewart Fitness Training in Fishers, Indiana. He says it’s important to create a plan customized around the foods you already enjoy eating, rather than trying to force down things you don’t like.

“Everyone is used to eating a certain way their whole life,” Stewart says. “They eat the same things all the time. I used to give people meal plans, with the right rations, but I found a lot of people didn’t like eating those foods, so they wouldn’t do it. So I had to figure out a way to let them still eat the foods they’re eating.”

Reduce those portions

“All restaurants have pretty big portion sizes,” Stewart says. “People tend to eat a lot of food in one sitting. Instead of eating a more reasonable amount, they’ll eat it all then, instead of taking some home for lunch the next day.”

Trisha DeHall, owner of highly rated Cincinnati Fit Body Boot Camp in Cincinnati, says to counteract this, you should get a to-go box the minute your food comes. “Immediately put half of your meal in the to-go box — before you even start eating,” she says.

Stewart suggests that people who want to eat healthier start by counting calories. “It might be a little time-consuming, but it’ll help them keep track of caloric intake, which can help them lose weight.”

FITNESS REQUIRES FOCUS

To keep your fitness goal, Stewart says, focus on two important factors: switching up your workouts and finding a buddy.

Love Zumba? Great. Prefer yoga, biking or running? Fantastic. Just make sure you don’t do the same thing every day, or you may lose motivation.

“When you have all the same type of exercise all the time, you get bored,” Stewart says. “If there’s not variety, you’ll lose motivation and attention.”

Try mixing it up

DeHall adds that your muscles sometimes adapt to the same exercises, making it less effective over time.

“We’re using kettle bells, dumbbells, bands, aerial straps,” she says. “Every workout is different. So it really boils down to one thing — confusion. You want to confuse your body every time you work out so it doesn’t know what to expect.”

DeHall says there are four important keys to success with fitness: exercising at least three days a week for 45 minutes at a time, drinking 60 to 70 ounces of water per day, getting 8 hours of sleep every night and eliminating processed foods from your diet.

“If you can do all four of those things, you’re going to be in pretty good shape,” she says.

Stewart also advocates teamwork, because exercising regularly happens more often when someone else holds you accountable. Know a friend who also wants to get in shape? Make a plan with them to go to the gym for a certain number of minutes each week, and stick to it.

Don’t have a buddy to go to the gym? Consider hiring a personal trainer, or investing in some equipment to create your own home gym.

Bottom line? Make improving your fitness a priority in 2015; your health depends on it.

This story originally appeared at angieslist.com and was written by Kaley Belakovich, Angie’s List