6 Habits to Ditch in 2021
If you’re looking at getting in shape in 2021, it’s time to ditch the resolution mentality. Here’s a better way to make sure you reach your weight loss goal in the New Year.
I’m not a big fan of resolutions. It looks like I’m not alone in that regard either. According to the Journal of Clinical Psychology, while a large majority of Americans set New Year’s Resolution, less than 10% actually follow through with them. I think we can all agree that those aren’t the best odds.
Of course, 2020 hasn’t been the best year. Okay, that’s an understatement – it’s been a stinky, wretched year. But I did see something interesting happen in the past twelve months. Prior to experiencing an unprecedented global pandemic, the common excuse I heard for people’s lack of fitness was “not enough time.” That’s nothing earth shattering. People have been playing that card since the dumbbell was invented.
Flash forward to a global lockdown, to where we all spent months on end crashing on our couches, and….nothing really happened. At last in terms of fitness. Push up records weren’t broken and six pack abs didn’t overtake the world. We certainly had the time. And anyone who had access to a bedroom, back yard, or a broom closet had the space they needed to workout. So what gives?
Here’s the cold hard reality: 2021 isn’t going to be any different for you. Sure, let’s assume that this whole COVID-19 thing tones down a whole bunch. But outside of that, you’ll still have work deadlines and family obligations to attend to. You’ll also have the same 24 hours in a day to work with that everyone else has. To get the best out of your fitness in 2021 you’ll need to be honest with yourself and approach things from a different angle.
Here’s six habits you should ditch come New Years:
1. Stop blaming food. Carbs, bread, ketchup, and even ice cubes have been blamed for increasing waistlines. Sure, certain methods of eating are better than others, but your health/body weight is the sum of your lifestyle choices (and not whether you had a slice of bread last night). I’ll burst the bubble for you: just like there’s no magic super food that strips fat away, there’s also not a demonic food that makes your waist explode. Fit people just practice really good habits every day.
2. Enough with the keto. Yes, ketogenic diets work. That shouldn’t be breaking news to anyone. After all, they’ve been around for a century and first started as a treatment for those with epilepsy. But you know what’s needed to lose weight? A calorie deficit. So ‘go keto’ when you need to lose that last bit of stubborn fat. A meta-analysis showed that that time tested low fat/high carb diet (the diet that all those antiquated and crusty registered dieticians recommended decades ago) was just as effective in terms of weight loss as ketogenic diet (1).While they work do, my issue with a ketogenic diet for most people (i.e. not all) is four fold:
- When people attempt keto they usually screw it up and never go into ketogenesis
- Some use it as a reason to live off of butter and bacon and thus consume too many calories
- It’s far too restrictive for most people to follow long term (see point #3)
- People forget about refeeds
When it comes to keto, or any diet for that matter, it’s not the formula but your execution that determines results.
3. No more extremes. Short cuts aren’t anything new, as just a couple of years ago, people thought intermittent fasting was the fastest path to being ready for beach season. Just like ketogenic diets, there’s a time and a place for fasting. There’s a correct way to do it but here’s another interesting factoid: research tells us that less than 40% of people can adhere to fasting regimens (1). We can lump militant boot camps, low calorie dieting, and fasting into this group of extreme tactics.
4. You have time. You might not have the ability to spend 10 hours in the gym but you don’t need to either. Anecdotal evidence points to about 5 hours of structured exercise a week. Some people need less, others need more. If you have a good workout plan, then 5 hours though will do the trick, and yes, you have 5 hours to spare. That equates to a measly 3 percent of your week. I’m not going to say it’s always going to be easy to get that time in, but where there’s a will, there’s a way.
5. You need to work hard. Here’s another cold splash of water on your face: working out makes you uncomfortable. And if you can tolerate being uncomfortable, you’re going to get in shape. This doesn’t mean that you should leave the gym crawling on hands on knees while what you ate for lunch now resides on the training floor. Your workout should be free of distractions, so put your darn phone away from 40 minutes. You’ll be okay. That workout should also be progressive: meaning your slowly doing more work each time. The simple rule is 2%- which equates to one more rep or shaving 8 seconds off a mile time. Pushing yourself is a skill, and I’m proud that my clients are amazed at the work they can handle after a month at the studio.
6. Stop resetting. When I was a kid and reached some of the tougher levels in Super Mario Bros 3, I simply tapped the reset button to start over. Then I would revisit the early levels, feel like a rockstar, and then smack that reset button when I returned to the challenging levels (darn you World 8-1). You can guess I never got good at the damn game.
People do this all the time with their training.
“I’ll start up when work slows down.”
“Things will be easier when the kids are out of school”
“School starting up again will help with the kiddos”
Life likes to throw you curve balls. There is no perfect time to start, or stay with a workout routine. If you keep resetting, you get really good at starting over and nothing else. Just stick with it – people always look for a reason to quit. Expect better from yourself.
I know you were probably expecting a list of “eat this, not that” and “killer butt and gut workout” but I leave that stuff to someone else. Yes – eating more protein is important. Timing your starches will also help turn on the fat burning mechanisms in your body. There’s plenty of that material on my blog. I wanted to hit the idea of a new year/new you from a different angle.
Believe it or not, these six things will get you 70% of the results you’re after. Before people worry about their macros when they instead they should focus on consistency, putting some work in, and stop having knee jerk reactions to every diet fad that pops up on their newsfeed. Focus on these things in 2021 and you’ll do just fine.
1. Aragon, A.A., Schoenfeld, B.J. et al. “International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: Diets and Body Composition.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (2017) 14:16