New Year, New You! 20 Tips to a Healthy Lifestyle

By Sharon Hilburn –

It’s the New Year, and each of us would love to miraculously be the best we can be, but it takes more than a twitch of the nose like Bewitched. However, this can be accomplished with thought and perseverance. Many of us desire a change but expect that it takes hours and hours of exercise and using the “dreaded” equipment. So, we keep coming up with excuses that prevent taking those first steps. Here are 20 tips to help you start down the path to healthy living.

1. Take the first step. Okay, that was easily said, but what does that mean?  Good nutrition and consistent exercise.  And, it takes xa for the winning combination.

2. Try different exercise activities.  There are so many to choose from.  Most importantly, when you are getting started and to ensure sustainability, it needs to be fun! Just need to step out of your comfort zone and try several different options. Find the activities that you enjoy, and start there. Ten minutes can make a difference. Many of us think that exercise is a minimum of grueling work for at least an hour. This expectation, and admittedly for some, dread, blocks us from exercising. But some is better than nothing, and it adds up. Medium to brisk walking for 10 minutes morning, lunch and evening can also be effective in keeping your heart strong and successfully burning calories. Just do it, and you will find that you get more activity in each day with a busy schedule rather than waiting for the perfect one-hour block of time.

3. Calories in, calories out. It is simple math. If you take in more calories than you expend, you gain. Because 3,500 calories equal about one pound (0.45 kilogram) of fat, you need to burn 3,500 calories more than you take in to lose one pound. So, if you cut 500 calories from your typical diet each day, you’d lose about one pound per week (500 calories x 7 days = 3,500 calories).

4. Cardio or strength – it takes both. Cardio vs. strength training for weight loss? Minute per minute, cardio indisputably burns more calories than strength training, which could explain why compared to strength trainers, aerobic exercisers can lose more weight in less time, according to a recent Duke University study. However, cardio doesn’t do much for your muscles.  Is cardio or weights better for burning fat? Actually, strength training is better than cardio, even HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) cardio. Weight lifting builds muscles, and muscles burn more calories at rest than body fat while increasing your lean body mass.

5. Group fitness. My favorite! There are many group exercise options to choose from, and you can meet friends and build a support system that will keep you consistent.

6. Mind and body exercise. In our busy schedules, women need a way to relax. Yoga and yoga combination classes can help reduce stress and reduce blood pressure while improving flexibility, balance and overall outlook on life.

7. High Intensity Interval Training. HIIT, for short, is a great option if you don’t have injuries that would be affected negatively by the intensity. In these types of small group trainings, you need an outstanding coach, not just an instructor – someone who knows body mechanics and what will safely achieve results with blocks of high intensity exercise alternated with short periods of rest or recovery.

8. Resistance training. Very useful in a well-rounded workout regimen.  Bands, Tubing, Dumbbells, Barbells/Plates, Kettlebells and TRX Resistance Training are all great ways to build muscle.

9. Body weight training. Total Body Resistance eXercise (TRX) uses your own body weight in conjunction with fixed straps of adjustable lengths to challenge the muscles and improve balance, flexibility and lean body mass. Planks, hovers, leg extensions and functional movement exercises are great as well to strengthen core and improve overall fitness.

10. Dance fitness classes. There are so many to choose from, and each is different depending on the instructor. Dancing is fun, and when you combine it in a fitness format , you will almost forget you are working out. ZUMBA® fitness, SH-BAM®, U-JAM Fitness™, POUND®, Bollywood, Hip-Hop – just to name a few – are great to try.

11. Set SMART goals. As we embark on a New Year, goals are the key to success, your foundation on which you build a healthy lifestyle. A SMART goal is not a basic statement or wish. I wish I were thin, I wish I were healthier, etc. It is a clearly drawn pathway to success and a way to state not just what you want but what you will do to accomplish it.

S – Specific. Clearly define your goal.  Write down exactly why you want to achieve this goal.

M – Measurable. Make sure you have a way to measure your ultimate goal, as well as each milestone.

A – Attainable. Is your goal achievable in the allotted time? What steps must you take to achieve your goal?

R – Realistic. Be realistic on how long it will take to achieve your goal and the steps you are taking to get there.

T – Timely/Timebound. Time sensitive goals are more likely to be achieved.    If loosely defined, life will get in the way, and your intentions will be covered up by your to do list that keeps on growing.

12. Mix it up! Use different forms of exercise. Try different classes.  There is something for everyone, and when you combine different types, you will keep your workout fresh and your motivation high. Check out for a list of fitness formats and descriptions.

13. Meet others who exercise and make friends. Motivate each other. This is huge and a way to keep yourself accountable. When you know someone else is aware of your action or inaction, you are more likely to stay on track, and you will reap the benefits.

14. Eat healthy. Nutrition is a key element to a heathy lifestyle.

15. Get a fitness coach or personal trainer. Let’s be honest. Some of us are just not motivated enough to stay on track. We know what we want but don’t have the tenacity to power through on our own. A Certified Personal Trainer can be a lifesaver, literally. He or she can use their expertise to help you set goals, maintain consistency, motivate you when you just don’t feel like it and coach you through the milestones that are the stepping stones to achieving your ultimate goal. The right personal trainer can assist you as you start your new health journey.

16. Consult a nutritionist. We are bombarded with information on what is healthy and what is not. Fruits and vegetables, lean meats, alternative proteins such as legumes and nuts, fiber and essential vitamins are all great for a healthy nutritional lifestyle. Most of us do not know how to sift through the contrasting images or the marketing phrases that make you feel like you need to be a scientist to know what is good for you. A nutritionist or registered dietician can be the guidance and support you need. They have achieved a high level of education regarding nutrition.

17. Be consistent. The yoyo effect can get anyone off course. You start hard and then stop. Start again and then stop. Consistency is key! Keeping your lifestyle including nutrition and exercise, sleep and de-stress activities in routine is the ticket to success – not a diet or fad exercise program that is not suitable for longevity or your personality.

18. Be patient. Results happen over time. And as your body changes and improves, there will be periods where your weight may not go down. Measure inches at the beginning of your program, and continue to measure as you progress. Since lean muscle is denser than fatty tissue, you can lose inches and not see immediate weight reduction. Your body will streamline as you increase your lean body ratio.

19.  FITT Principle. Another way to set effective goals is to follow the FITT Principle.

F – Frequency. How often per week will you exercise?  Three times, five times, seven times?

I – Intensity. What level of activity?  How strenuous?  What heart rate level?  Beginner, intermediate, advanced?

T – Time. How long will each workout be?  Some may be shorter, some longer based on each block of time available, but the total number of minutes will add up.

T – Type. Walking, jogging, biking, dance class, strength training, cardio, yoga, Pilates?

For example, exercise 7 days a week with two strength segments on alternating days, two cardio/strength segments on alternating days, two yoga and one core class with each class lasting 30 to 60 minutes.

20. Celebrate the little accomplishments! Each milestone must be celebrated. This gives you the determination to stay on track and continue to see results.

With these tips, 2018 can be the best year ever for the best you ever!