Shortcuts are great. When you’re on a road trip, yes. When you’re trying to transform your health, not so much. So if you plan to start 2017 on the healthier side of things, check out what quick fixes you should leave in 2016.
1. Eliminate diets that eliminate entire food groups.
As tempting as it may be, beware of jumping on the “I don’t eat [fill in the blank]” bandwagon in 2017—especially if your goal is long-term weight loss. For instance, eating like a caveman or cavewoman on the Paleo diet may be great for ditching refined sugar, dairy, grains and legumes in favor of meat, fish, poultry, fruits and veggies. But the downside is that you can end up overdosing on meat. So keep your carnivore pickings lean, Flintstone fam.
Or, if you’re still riding the “low carb” train, may this be the year you keep your weight on track longer than March by inviting more “healthy carbs,” like whole grains and high-quality grains like quinoa, into your diet.
Speaking of quinoa, this grain is often a gluten-free eater’s top five fave. So while gluten-free seems like all we may see, unless you’re suffering from celiac disease, beware of what passing on gluten really means. Yes, you will automatically consume fewer processed foods and more high-quality grains; however, beware of sneaky labels. The food industry will consume you (pun intended) if you aren’t careful. For instance, a “gluten free” cookie is still a cookie and, like many gluten-free products, contains higher levels of both fat and sugar.
Overall, before you ditch an entire food group, be honest with yourself about why you’re kicking said food group to the curb. If it’s solely weight-loss-focused, you may lose the will to stick with your new restriction sooner rather than later.
2. Don’t be so quick to try an intermittent fast.
And while we are on the topic of skipping food groups, let’s leave skipping meals in 2016, too. Back in the day, the Military Diet was the leader of the “eat less, lose more” campaign. Clocking in at 800-1,000 calories a day—which, by the way, is less than even a child eats—was foolishness across the board.
So whether you’ve “about-faced” on this one yet or not, watch out for other extremely-low-calorie diets, such as the widely popular intermittent fasting. Skipping meals periodically will surely help you drop a size, but your metabolism and energy will definitely drop, too. And the last thing you need (especially as you get older) is a pissed-off and slow metabolism.
3. Don’t waste your time with waist trainers.
A small waist is coveted by many, and celebs may have you fooled into thinking that having a 25-inch waist is a cinch. But corsets went out of style centuries ago for a reason. Yes, many argue that waist trainers and corsets are not the same, but one thing they have in common is the high risk they bring and the damage they cause. If worn too long or too tight, waist trainers put you at risk for crushing your organs or compressing your lungs; you could fracture your ribs and possibly even increase your chance of developing acid reflux disease. Oh, and you could pass out.
So pass on this waist-training method and actually “train” your core a bit more this year with planks, exercises that challenge your balance, and movements that are multidirectional—like squats followed by a rotational twist using a medicine ball or weight.
4. Say bye to magic pills and pyramid schemes.
“Get skinny and make your pockets fat!” is the No. 1 weight-loss scheme today. Popular weight-loss companies such as Herbalife, ViSalus and Shakeology (just to name a few) are in the business of making your weight loss a business, and frankly, the overall cost just isn’t worth it. Not only do these quick fixes that push eating two shakes a day or popping magic pills provide just temporary results, but seriously, how long do you think you can maintain such a restricted diet?
Straight up, many of the ingredients are shady—think crazy amounts of soy and genetically modified organisms, or GMOs (more like OMG)—and the damaging effects these products have will affect you not only physically but psychologically as well.
The risk is truly astounding. Just search “I used to be on [insert diet pyramid scheme]” one day and see for yourself. Bottom line—you can try the 90-day guarantee line or do the “lifestyle change” work to live up to 90 years, possibly.
5. Try not to HIIT the gym too hard.
Diets aside, another common mistake that weight-loss goal diggers make on Jan. 1 is hitting the gym too hard. Which is easier than ever nowadays because “high-intensity interval training,” or HIIT, is the most popular fitness trend on the scene. Think short workouts (20 minutes or less sometimes) that instantly make you short of breath. Great for the metabolism and for those who are short on time, but a disaster waiting to happen for newbies, overachievers or a combo of the two.
The exercises in many popular HIIT programs and classes are often advanced and, if done incorrectly, can leave you injured and benched before you even get in the game. So whether you hit up this popular workout trend or just make your way back to the gym this January after a hiatus, the goal is to ease into things and increase the intensity gradually. The fit life is a marathon, not a sprint, so take it one step at a time.
6. Rid yourself of cleanses and detoxes.
Wait, people are still doing the Cabbage Soup Diet and the Master Cleanse?! Yes, they are. Well, if downing bowls of soup or subscribing to the first “lemonade” Beyoncé helped make popular sounds good to you, think again. Because unless you want to start the year tired, cranky and starving, with a slow metabolism, low energy levels and risking your health, it’s not worth it. Oh, and these new-school versions aren’t exempt, either.
If you are tempted to try a juice cleanse or order that tea from your favorite insta-star, remember this: Your body actually already runs on an auto-cleanse system thanks to your kidneys, liver and intestines; therefore, those three bottles a day and that detox tea are not really doing any cleaning.
Sorry to tell you this, but if you feel lighter, healthier or “cleansed” after taking a food hiatus with one of these programs, it’s because (spoiler alert) you eliminated junk food, not toxins.
So what is the ultimate solution to your weight-loss resolution? Kick it old school and sign up for this foolproof formula: eating less x moving more = a healthier you. Free-ninety-nine.