THE NEW YEAR'S ISSUE #492 01/04/12
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10 Ways to a New You

By Steve Edwards

Most of us make resolutions to somehow change ourselves for the better in the upcoming year. More often than not, these resolutions involve promising ourselves to get into better shape, improve our diet, or quit some habit we think is hurting our health or well-being.

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While the practice of making health-related resolutions tends to be great for business at Beachbody® (or any health and fitness company), these resolutions really only matter to you if they're helpful to you. Unfortunately, the statistics show that most of us won't see our resolutions through to the end of the coming year. Of course, you're an individual, not a statistic. Whether or not you succeed is entirely up to you.

Our job is to make your path to health and fitness easier. So here are some tips to help you succeed with your New Year's makeover.

  1. Feel free to change your resolutions. After all, they're yours. You made 'em and you can change 'em. While New Year's resolutions are a great idea in theory, we tend to make them so challenging that most are virtually doomed to fail. Research tells us that the majority of people have already cheated on their resolutions or given up on them altogether by the end of the first week of January.

    The main reason is difficulty. The average resolution aims high—really high. For example, let's look at the ubiquitous, "I'm going to stop smoking." It's pretty easy to mess this one up, and once you've cheated at all, it's very easy to give up completely. In fact, a case could be made that many of us make our resolutions too difficult on purpose, because it makes it so much easier to stop trying. Instead, attempt a more holistic approach. Maybe your resolution is to stop smoking, but throw in "by the end of the year." Now you've got an entire year to work toward your goal.
  2. Calendar with a PenMake a plan. This is a big step, because given the scenario above, without a plan it's unlikely that you'll change anything in your lifestyle until the following December. Most of us can look at a calendar for the coming year and come up with a decent idea about our schedule and what might work for us if we were to, say, going to schedule an event as part of a resolution. Taking a minute to look at the upcoming year can give you a realistic sense of what you want to attempt.

    Again, using quitting smoking as an example, you might want to schedule some kind of healthy retreat where you can cleanse yourself, get healthy, etc., during the year. You'll need to know your schedule, or, as we tend to do, you may find your resolution-related goal happens to fall during a month when you've got a lot of other obligations. Planning ahead will help stack the odds in your favor. Then you can also plan goals for the months leading up to your retreat.
  3. Remember the big picture. This one has to do with the fact that most resolutions are about self-improvement (or helping someone or something else improve). Some of the main resolutions we make are to quit a bad habit, change the way we look or feel, or become more educated. All these things require our minds and bodies to change. And while it is possible to do a 100-percent turnaround at the stroke of midnight on December 31st, it's not very likely. Your chances for success will increase dramatically if you use your brain and make a plan that allows for failure, plays to your strengths, and moves towards your overall goal in a way that makes it harder for you to give up than to keep going.

    Again using quitting smoking as an example, here's an idea that's focused on the big picture. Break the year into 12 months. For January, you might want to start with an exercise program, because you know that the harder your body has to work physically, the less it'll crave cigarettes. So your entire first month might not actually address your ultimate goal directly. Instead, it can focus on something you know will help you down the line.
  4. FamilyInvolve your family. If you've got a family, find a way to involve them in your quest. If you can't get them on your side, you might face some trouble, because you might find they're pulling you in the opposite direction. If quitting smoking is your goal, chances are your family will be supportive and do anything you ask. So for this example, let's use a family that consists of a dog, who isn't about to stop you from doing something you enjoy. Involving your dog is easy, because while he doesn't care whether or not you smoke, Fido would certainly rather have you out hiking with him. So thinking something like, "When I want a cigarette, I'll take the dog for a walk" could be an effective element in achieving your ultimate goal. And as you well know, Fido will be very supportive on this one.
  5. Involve your bad habits. We've all got some bad habits. If you can embrace yours and somehow involve them in your efforts to stick to your resolutions, you'll stand a much better chance of achieving success. Let's say you smoke most often when you're out drinking socially. Since you know you're vulnerable and will probably break down no matter what you tell yourself, find a roundabout way of allowing this.

    For example, in the beginning, you might allow yourself to socially smoke a cigarette if you've exercised for an hour that day. This can evolve over the year to be stricter—perhaps increasing the exercise intensity or time required to earn the reward. In this instance, the harder you exercise, the less your body will crave that cigarette. So even though you've set up a cigarette as a reward, you'll be likely to find that you'll crave it less and less the more you exercise. The possibilities are nearly endless, and you'll need to get creative, but by involving your bad habits you'll virtually eliminate your excuses to quit progressing toward your goal.
  6. Couple DancingInvolve your good habits. While this should fall in the "duh" files, it's surprising how often people try to ignore their own history when they attempt to make themselves over. Get realistic and embrace the things you like to do. Certainly, you must have some healthy things that you love to do that are good for you—going for walks, dancing, a favorite sport. Make sure they're a part of your plan.

    And even if something you love isn't currently good for you, there's usually a way to change that. For example, if you love watching House, you can make this more positive by vowing to stretch in front of the TV, or exercise during the commercials. An hourlong network TV show has 20 minutes of commercials. You can get a lot done in 20 minutes.
  7. Find strength in numbers. Even the most independent of us needs support from time to time. Unless your goal is completely off the radar, there's probably a support group available, which you can prove to yourself by performing a 30-second Internet search. These support groups can be amazingly helpful and can fit any personality type. Even if you're very shy, just reading through what others say can help to motivate and keep you on track.

    For exercise and diet support, we offer the Message Boards and the SuperGym®, our virtual gym. You can win $500 a day just for logging in and working out in the SuperGym. Get more diet and fitness support, including the Online Meal Planner when you join the Team Beachbody® Club—risk-free for 30 days!
  8. BuddhaGet involved for a higher purpose. This doesn't have to mean a religious higher power—although it can be. A higher purpose can be your family, your friends, or any number of causes—essentially anything that helps you make the world around you become a better place. We can often wallow in our bad habits due to a sense of helplessness. Getting involved in something beyond yourself can give you the sense that your life matters, because, well, it does. Engagement can be very empowering. Not to mention fun.
  9. Schedule some alone time. This is important because we tend to allow the outside world to distract us. Often this is done for the most altruistic purposes, putting family, friends, or job above ourselves. But all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, and allowing control of your own life to slip away—even for a higher purpose—isn't the answer. If you're not healthy, happy, and content, it's going to be difficult for you to help others to be healthy, happy, and content. Even if it's just minutes a day, make some time for yourself to be alone where you're able to gather your thoughts and focus on what you want to happen in your future.
  10. Tony Horton's Book: Bring It!Use a target goal that's qualitative, not quantitative. Our society loves numbers. Losing X amount of pounds, running X amount of miles, going X number of days without smoking—these are things we dangle in front of ourselves as if they were some Holy Grail. In fact, these things have very little impact, if any, on what we really want, which is to improve our lives. Numbers can be great motivators. They can be nice as signposts on your road to progress. But they can also mislead you and shouldn't be a part of your ultimate goal, because you can't really control them. Shooting for unattainable numbers is one primary way we can sabotage our self-improvement goals. The adage "It's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game" isn't just about sports. Live your life well, and in the end, you'll be content, no matter where the numbers fall.

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Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Check the Team Beachbody Chat Room for the next impromptu video chat.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

Check out our Fitness Advisor's responses to your comments in The Beachbody Mailbag on the Message Boards. If you'd like to receive The Beachbody Mailbag by email, click here to subscribe.

And if you'd like to know more about Beachbody Director of Results Steve Edwards' views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope, named one of the Top 50 blogs covering the sports industry by the Masters in Sports Administration.

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Eat More. Lose Weight. No Kidding.

By Whitney Provost

I've always had a hearty appetite. When I sit down to eat, I want a big plate of food that takes some time to get through, not a tiny portion that's gulped down in a bite or two. Unfortunately, big appetites can lead to big thighs. Rather than restrict myself to a life of deprivation, I learned how to eat a lot and still lose weight.

In the past, I'd lose a few pounds by eating 250-calorie "meals" every few hours. But I was never fully satisfied and always a bit hungry. And the stricter the diet, the more likely I was to dive headlong into a binge and derail any progress. There had to be a better way.

Vegetable Soup

By paying attention to my natural hunger and appetite cues, I discovered that I'm happiest eating larger meals fewer times a day. The idea is to select the highest volume of food with the least amount of calories, which basically means lots of vegetables and some fruit. Weight-loss experts have been recommending this for years. In fact, the February 2011 issue of the Journal of Nutrition reported that people who eat low-energy-density foods (high volume, low calories) not only lose weight, but are more likely to keep that weight off in the long term.

What the experts don't always tell you is that in order for your meals to be truly satisfying, they should also include some protein and healthy fats. The protein takes longer to digest than vegetables, and fat slows down the rate of digestion, so you'll feel full longer. The result? You'll naturally eat less over time and lose weight without being hungry.

Here are a few simple recipes that I make often to indulge my inner glutton without adding heft to my hips. They're tasty, filling, and very versatile.

Build a better salad

Couple Having a Meal and WineSure, salads are the best way to fill up on fewer calories. The key is to make them hearty, and not so low in calories that you’re starving an hour later.

  • Fill a large bowl with the greens of your choice. I prefer a combination, like romaine, spinach, and finely chopped kale. The romaine gives a satisfying crunch, while the spinach and kale are excellent sources of nutrition.
  • Look in your refrigerator and grab all the vegetables you can reach. If you think you don’t like raw vegetables, chop them very finely or even grate them on a cheese grater (this works well for things like broccoli, zucchini, and cauliflower). Once the veggies are small enough, you won’t taste them. Throw them into your bowl.
  • Add protein, such as 5 ounces of grilled chicken or 1 cup of canned beans that you’ve rinsed and drained. My favorite beans are red kidney, cannellini, and garbanzo (chickpeas).
  • Toss in a handful (or about 1/4 cup) of nuts or seeds. I like to roast shelled, raw pumpkin seeds in a 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes, until they’re browned but not burned. Nuts and seeds are good sources of fat and protein, and a little goes a long way.
  • Make a quick dressing. Whisk 2 tablespoons of olive oil with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or red-wine vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour half over your salad, toss, and see if that’s enough dressing. If not, add the rest.

*NOTE: Don’t be afraid of fat! It’s an important part of a healthy diet, and can actually help you lose more weight. Not convinced? Read my earlier newsletter article, “The 5 Best Fats to Get Lean.”

Chomp on a yummy quinoa salad

Quinoa SaladNever tried quinoa? It’s a rich source of protein that’s delicious in salads like this.

  • Prepare 1/4 cup of quinoa according to package directions. (This is about 1 cup of cooked quinoa).
  • Roast whatever vegetables you have on hand. Typical choices are broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, onions, carrots, and asparagus. Just chop into similar-size pieces, drizzle with olive oil and a little salt, spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet, and roast in a 400-degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring once or twice.
  • Chop a handful of flat-leaf parsley (about 1/4 cup).
  • Make a dressing. Whisk 2 tablespoons of olive oil with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
  • Mix all ingredients together, and refrigerate for an hour to let the flavors blend. Add more lemon juice if desired for a brighter flavor.

Warm up with "everything but the kitchen sink" soup

Vegetable SoupBrothy soups take a long time to eat, are perfect when you’re craving something warm, and are low in calories when you make them yourself. On weekends, I take whatever vegetables are left in my fridge from the previous week and turn them into a soup that feeds me for days. There’s no real recipe here, but this is how it usually goes:

  • Chop an onion and a couple cloves of garlic, and dice a couple of carrots and celery stalks. (It’s OK if you don’t have all these things, it just helps to make a nice soup base.)
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a heavy pot. Throw in the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery and cook for about 5 minutes or so, until the vegetables soften and the onions become translucent.
  • Pour in 4 cups of broth (any kind) and any dried herbs or seasonings you have in your pantry. I like Italian seasoning, or a combination of chile powder, cayenne, and cumin for a Latin-inspired flavor, enough to equal about a tablespoon total. If you’re feeling fancy, toss in a bay leaf (optional). Bring to a simmer.
  • While the broth is simmering, chop any vegetables you have left in your refrigerator and add them to the pot. Let them cook for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables are a texture you like. I like mine to have a little crunch.
  • For protein, add some cooked chicken or a can of beans to the pot.
  • Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning by adding more herbs or some salt. A squirt of lemon juice or a splash of vinegar can brighten and intensify the flavor of your soup, too.

Want a thicker soup? Puree it in batches in a blender until it’s smooth. Then add your protein or beans. You can divide this into individual servings (my batches usually yield 4 to 5 portions) and refrigerate or freeze until you’re ready to eat.

These are my go-to recipes that allow me to eat a lot, stay full, and lose weight. Once you get the idea, start to experiment with your own recipes until you hit on the flavors that make you happy.

Related Articles
"10 Tips for Controlling Your Inner Cookie Monster®"
"8 Insider Tips to Help You Burn Fat Faster"
"5 Ways to Break through Dreaded Weight Loss Plateaus"

Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Check the Team Beachbody Chat Room for the next impromptu video chat.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

Check out our Fitness Advisor's responses to your comments in The Beachbody Mailbag on the Message Boards. If you'd like to receive The Beachbody Mailbag by email, click here to subscribe.

And if you'd like to know more about Beachbody Director of Results Steve Edwards' views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope, named one of the Top 50 blogs covering the sports industry by the Masters in Sports Administration.

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Recipe: Lentil Soup

Recommended by P90X® nutritionist Carrie Wiatt

Lentil Soup
This savory classic has been given a healthful twist by P90X nutritionist Carrie Wiatt. Low in fat and high in protein, this vegan soup recipe will warm you up and lean you out.

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2-1/2 large onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 small carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 lb. uncooked lentils, sorted and washed
  • 5 cups fat-free vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Pepper (to taste)
  • Large soup pot
  • Colander
  • Large bowl
  • Food processor, blender, or food mill

Heat oil in a large, heavy soup pot. Add onions, garlic, and carrots and cook over moderate heat until onions are limp. Add lentils, broth, and water, and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until lentils are very soft. Stir in more warm water if soup becomes too thick. Pour soup through colander, catching liquid that drains off in a large bowl. Return liquid to soup pot. Puree 1/3 of lentil mixture in food processor or blender or through food mill; return to pot. Stir in remaining whole-lentil mixture. If desired, season with salt and pepper. Makes 12 servings.

Preparation Time: 50 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):

Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
165 11 g 12 g 27 g 2 g < 1 g

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.


P90X® and P90X2® Portion Information

Nutritional Information: (per serving)

Vegetables Legumes (Carbs)
1 g 1/2


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