We polled top personalities in the fitness industry for the rules you need to follow to succeed in 2017 and beyond. These world-renown experts replied with one rule each for fitness, nutrition, and staying motivated. Their answers on the following pages provide enough inspiration and information to help you crush your New Year’s Resolutions. It’s time to get up and grab 2017 by the horns.
FITNESS ADVICE: Alternate upper and lower-body exercises. Pairing exercises like this in your workouts forces your heart to work harder to drive blood up and down your body. That makes you burn more calories and work more muscle mass each session. You’ll get leaner faster.
NUTRITION ADVICE: Measure out your portions of protein, carbs, and fats and get a sense of how much you’re already eating. That’s the only way you can determine how much you should be eating to lose fat (hint: you can probably get away with consuming more than you realize). Yes, keeping track of calories and macros can be tedious, but you don’t have to do it forever. After you get a sense of what a day’s worth of healthy meals looks like, you can start guesstimating your portion sizes.
MOTIVATIONAL TIP: The most important factor in achieving any goal is simply sticking to the process that gets you there, and you can’t do that without a positive attitude and belief in yourself. Visualize how you want to look and perform for at least 10 minutes daily—see the images like a movie playing in your head. Write down your goal and refer back to it regularly, and count all the little “wins” that you experience daily that help get you closer. It’s easy to focus on the negativity in a day, but taking stock of your accomplishments, no matter how small, bolsters your motivation and increases your confidence.
THE EXPERT: STEVE COTTER, President, International Kettlebell Fitness Federation
ON THE WEB: ikff.net
FITNESS ADVICE: Remember that slow and steady wins the race. You’re not going to get where you want in a hurry, so don’t do too much too soon (or too fast, or too heavy). Consistency is your strongest ally on your path to fitness success.
NUTRITION ADVICE: Eat whole, living foods. Drink lots of water. Stay away from fake and processed foods. If it comes from a can, box, or other container, it is probably not so healthy. Eat more veggies, you can never go wrong. Remember, food is fuel, so don’t put cheap fuel in your expensive car (body). Quality breeds quality!
MOTIVATIONAL TIP: There is only one of you. Be the best you that you can be and believe in your worth. No matter what anyone says, you can do it!
FITNESS ADVICE: Follow the 5 minute rule. There are days where we don’t want to exercise at all. On those days, spend a mere five minutes warming-up or working out, and if the desire still isn’t there, then all it a day. Head home and come back another day; it’s better than getting burnt out too soon and hating to exercise. More often than not, you’ll forget about the five minutes until half an hour later! However, this rule does require a real commitment to that first five minutes each time you intend to exercise.
NUTRITION ADVICE: Taste the rainbow. Eating vegetables, and some fruit, that display a wide range of colors is easy on the eyes and great for your body. The vibrant colors in food often represent vitamins and minerals which are essential for optimal function. And, sadly, if we don’t get those essential micronutrients, then out bodies will be even more stubborn to change. Additionally, eating high-fiber vegetables first will cue our bodies to “fill” a bit faster than normal so we are less likely to overeat.
MOTIVATIONAL TIP: You ARE capable! Throughout the day we have hundreds, perhaps thousands, of opportunities to make health choices. And those are completely up to us—no one else! Take charge of your own health and remember that you do have the choice to do better. That doesn’t mean perfect, because there’s no such thing. It means that you are ever capable of doing just a little bit better than your previous self each and every day. That adds up greatly over time. Whatever it is that YOU want to do with your health, you can do it. In fact, I’ll even help you get there, just reach out to me at my email (email@example.com) and we’ll set up a plan, specifically for you.
FITNESS ADVICE: Write down your goals. We can’t achieve our fitness goals if we don’t first write them down, then we must have a plan as to how we are going to achieve those goals. When it comes to fitness, we must keep ourselves accountable in order to get results. To stay accountable, try making a vision board, finding a reliable workout partner, and write your workout in your calendar as if it were an actual appointment with someone else.
NUTRITION ADVICE: Nutrition is the most important part of the package—probably 80% of the equation. It will be important to drink a lot of water to stay energized and your metabolism revved. Plan your meals and pack for the week on Sunday, so you won’t be tempted to swing through the drive-thru midweek and regret it. In addition, I always encourage people to shop on the outside isles of the grocery store first. This way it allows you to pick mostly lean meat, yogurt, fruits and veggies to fill your basket, As a rule, avoid packaged foods.
MOTIVATIONAL TIP: The number one thing that will prevent you from achieving results is your own head. The power of the mind is amazing and with positive thoughts we can control, not only our reactions outside stimuli, but also what we crave and what we eat. Feed your mind, and your body will start to follow. Stay educated about your body and nutrition. The more you know about fitness and nutrition the easier it is to make better decisions. Go out and find your WHY? As in, why are you doing it to begin with? That should be your motivation every day!
FITNESS ADVICE: Your workout routine should be like a working week, never take a Monday off as that starts the week off on a bad footing.
If your looking to add size why not try some German Volume Training (GVT), and put some of those Xmas calories to good use. This is a routine where you do 10 sets of 10 reps of a weight which is approx 60% below your max.
Or, if you are trying to lean out before the summer hits, why not add in some High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), training into your workouts. This is when you give all-out, 100 percent effort for 20 seconds within your given exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest. This method of training burns more fat as it elevates your heart rate, and HIIT isn’t purely for cardio, so you can implement it into a weight circuit routine.
NUTRITION ADVICE: Try carb cycling. This is essentially when you eat more carbohydrates on some days (High Carb days) to help promote muscle growth and eating less carbohydrates on other days (Low Carb days) to help minimize fat gain and even promote fat loss.
Whatever diet you try I would suggest keeping your carbs, and fats separate in any given meal to ensure your insulin levels remain level (insulin spikes are only beneficial post workout.)
MOTIVATIONAL TIP: Set short and long term goals. Just about everyone has long-term goals, but fewer people have the mini or short-term goals. They never reach the big goal because the big is nothing more than the sum of all those tiny goals.
FITNESS ADVICE: Ease into it. No matter what your fitness level may have been in the past, if you’ve had significant time off, the key is to get back at things slowly so you don’t overdo it and injure yourself. Some muscle soreness is to be expected, but if you go into it slowly you can be consistent instead of having to take three days off in between sessions to recover from intense fatigue. Have realistic standards as to how you approach the gym and read your body to see how you’re responding. At the end of every training session, include a full body stretch, holding each position for a minimum of 30 seconds each. This will make a noticeable difference in your muscle recovery when beginning your journey to an improved and healthier you!
NUTRITION ADVICE: Keep it clean. Outline the improvements you want to make with your food and have a plan of what kinds of meals you would like to include in this new year. Remember that you don’t need to be perfect, but you can always strive for better. Just because you get side tracked one day doesn’t mean you need to throw in the towel altogether. If you don’t know where to start, avoid fad diets and find a reliable source of information from a professional. You can also track what you eat with numerous free apps on your phone that will help keep you accountable and track your caloric intake, fitness, sleep levels and much more. During the first couple weeks you can expect sugar cravings if you’ve over indulged in them over the holidays, so do your best to push through them.
MOTIVATIONAL TIP: Don’t let stress take over. It’s so easy to talk yourself out of a workout when stress kicks in and you’ve got a million and one things on your plate. The key is to remember that when life gets stressful, you need to maintain your fitness and nutrition for your mental sanity. Sometimes you may need to do a shorter workout or possibly miss a day, but skipping the gym for a week or more is akin to putting your body last on the priority list. This causes even more stress in the end, causing you to feel bloated and disappointed. Excess fat on the body is really just a whole lot of extra stress. When you destress your life, you will lose the fat, and be much happier all around.
FITNESS ADVICE: Fitness is a marathon, not a sprint. No one ever “got in shape” after one torturous workout or one killer week of exercise. We need to create a habit of CONSISTENTLY doing some exercise every day- even if it’s only 10 minutes!
NUTRITION ADVICE: Habits are powerful. The secret to breaking the most stubborn of bad habits is to REPLACE them with good habits. Example: if every afternoon you have been eating a candy bar and drinking a Coke, it’s nearly impossible to quit “cold turkey.” But, maybe you can substitute a healthy snack bar and some green tea. You’ll satisfy the craving, and your body will feel and function much better!
MOTIVATIONAL TIP: We all need reward and encouragement. Look at your calendar and pick a day in a month or so. Plan something special: a spa day, a dinner out, a photo shoot with a friend/spouse/family member… Get creative! The idea is to have something to look forward to, when you want to look and feel your best. Once it’s done, do it again!
FITNESS ADVICE: Consistency is king. Do something—anything—every day. This could be yoga, weightlifting, or old-fashioned cardio. Don’t make it into a bigger deal than it really is. Just take at least 10-20 to work on your body.
NUTRITION ADVICE: One of the most shocking nutrition statistics I’ve ever read: The average American eats 193 sandwiches per year. That is a TON of carbs that no one needs. Deconstruct the sandwich and have a salad, or try taking off one side of the bread and eating it open faced. Any change you can make will all add up big-time over the course of a year.
MOTIVATIONAL TIP: There is always time to turn things around. It doesn’t matter how old you are what you’ve done to get to this point. You have to get up stop feeling sorry for yourself because nobody is gonna show up at the door one day with the body you have always wanted. You have to earn it. Find a way or make a way.
FITNESS TIP: Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated even during cold winter months. We tend to think we don’t need to drink as much when it’s cold out, but it’s not true. And being even a little bit dehydrated will slow down your metabolism and make it harder to maintain a healthy bodyweight.
NUTRITION ADVICE: You cannot out-train a bad diet. That is a battle you will never win. Be kind to your body by feeding it good nutrient dense foods and staying hydrated with water. The results of you workouts will improve dramatically when you fuel your body properly. Exercise and diet is not a 50-50 equation. Nutrition is about 80% of the equation.
MOTIVATIONAL TIP: A goal without a plan is just a wish. Know in your heart, your mind, and your soul where you want to go in life and work towards every single day. Don’t sweat the variables. Make your plan and enjoy the journey.
Originally published in Robert Irvine Magazine.