As legions of enthusiastic resolutioners swarm gyms across the country, the question is as to how many people will be able to stick to their plans. One of the major mistakes that people make is being too ambitious. By taking on too much, we risk choosing a process that can’t be sustained in the long-term. After all, a juggler can only keep so many balls in the air at the same time.
Instead of giving you more to do, I thought it would be helpful to give you less. These tips will help you succeed in reaching your goals without adding anything to your workload. As a matter of fact, most of the advice here is designed to help reduce it.
1. Sit quietly
Information, demands, distractions and stress can turn into a non-stop deluge. This will negatively impact almost every measureable indicator of your health. So turn it off. Turn it all off. Close your door, close your eyes and experience quiet.
2. Eat slowly
Don’t read; don’t sit at the computer; don’t rush. Give yourself the opportunity to chew slowly and taste everything. Eliminate all distractions and actually exist in the moment. If you’re going to eat something that’s not so good for you, make sure it’s truly enjoyable and worthwhile.
Preliminary studies indicate that stress-reduction techniques, including meditation and slow, mindful eating decrease cortisol and prevent increases in bodyweight – even without prescribed diets. Slow, mindful eating also allows leptin (which governs satiety and pleasure signals) to do its job.
3. Sleep more
Insufficient sleep will increase cortisol and decrease insulin sensitivity. This one-two punch makes it markedly easier for you to store fat and be grumpy about it at the same time.
Take naps, sleep in quiet, dark environments and get 7-8 hours a night to change this.
4. Appreciate how good you’ve got it
You feel stressed from time to time. Overwhelmed, even. That’s to be expected. Just remember that, somewhere along the way, you got access to education, a steady supply of food and – if you reading this is any indication – an internet connection. Things may not be what you want them to be yet but you’ve also got a lot going for you. Be grateful for it.
5. Take fish oil
Fish oil consumption is the most effortful of all the tips provided because it actually requires doing something (as opposed to not doing something). Nevertheless, it’s easy and has been shown, in numerous studies, to help people get leaner and live longer.
6. Breathe deeply
With this many years of breathing practice behind you, you’d expect to be an expert. Yet most people breathe too shallowly, recruit the wrong muscles and, as a result, experience everything from poor posture to permanently tight muscles.
When you inhale, you shouldn’t feel your neck or shoulders tense up. Instead, your ribcage should expand to allow full intake of air. If you’re having trouble doing this, put your hands on your ribs (fingers forward) and gently apply pressure against your ribs as you inhale. This increased level of sensation will help you take in more air.
7. Get a massage
A good massage will help with recovery from exercise, decrease stress levels and give you the opportunity to turn the noise down on the outside world.
A good massage therapist will also smack the phone out of your hand if you try to check in with work.
8. Simplify your approach to fitness
Choose one primary goal – whether it’s getting lean, getting strong, feeling better or performing at the top of your game. Make sure that this is the one that most resonates with you on a personal level. Get rid of your other goals until you’re getting close to achieving the first one.
9. Do less
Rank the things you do from 1 to 10 – 10 being the most important and 1 being the least important. Stop doing everything grouped under 1.
10. Have fun
Find joy in spontaneous movement, things that fuel you, things that intrigue you and things that define you. It doesn’t feel like work when it’s fun.