New Year, new you: practical tips and supplement advice to help you maintain the momentum to lose weight, get in shape, and feel great
It’s that time of year: the winter pounds have crept on and maybe your clothes feel a bit snug. If this year your New Year’s resolution is to lose weight and get in shape, you’re not alone. Consider how every January it becomes nearly impossible to find a free treadmill at the gym, but by March gym traffic thins considerably. The keys to a healthy lifestyle lie in maintaining your goals and energy, while avoiding the stress that results from the minor setbacks along the way.
So what can you do to sustain your momentum? Following are practical strategies and tips to help you stay on the right path.
A big key to wellness is establishing healthy, attainable routines. To that end, Coral Arvon, PhD, LMFT, LCSW, director of Behavioral Health & Wellness at Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa, suggests setting short-term resolution goals rather than goals that span the whole year. “After three weeks, re-evaluate where you are and how you feel,” she says. “If you can continue on with the same routine, keep going because it takes 17–21 days to establish a healthy habit.”
In the same vein, rather than starting out with the goal of losing a large amount of weight such as 60 pounds, Arvon advocates setting smaller, more reasonable goals, like abstaining from eating sugar for a whole day.
In addition to drinking more water, choosing whole foods over processed foods, and getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night, there are a few dietary supplements that can help kick- start a healthy new routine.
keep your energy high
When a resolution is fresh, it’s easy to maintain momentum. But three months in? Not so much. To maintain a steady level of daily energy, experts recommend the following nutritional supplements:
Multivitamin: the benefits of a high-quality, all-purpose multivitamin should not be underestimated, especially when it comes to providing energy and filling in nutritional gaps.
B-vitamin complex: Is your diet clean, and are you exercising and getting plenty of sleep, but still feel like you’re running on empty? Nutritionist JJ Virgin, author of the New York Times best-selling book The Virgin Diet, recommends a dose of vitamin B complex to help boost energy.
Ribose: A naturally occurring carbohydrate component of DNA and RNA, ribose is an energy turbocharger, explains Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, author of The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. “A recently published study shows that the nutrient ribose resulted in an average 61% increase in energy in those suffering from even the most severe forms of the human energy crisis, chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia,” he says.
kick-start weight loss
The supplement aisle is filled with products that promise to deliver weight loss. Among the more effective and scientifically proven ingredients are:
Ketones: Buoyed by the “Dr. Oz Buzz,” ketones are most widely associated with raspberries, but are found in a variety of fruits. Researchers have found ketones to be effective in reducing fat stored in the liver, and helping to burn away fat that lodges around the abdominal zone.
Protein powders: A shake and smoothie staple, protein powders help control appetite and maintain lean muscle mass. Simply put, protein delivers essential amino acids and a sustained feeling of fullness (satiety). Look for milk proteins like whey, or vegetarian soy, hemp, rice, and pea proteins.
Green coffee bean extract: Unroasted green coffee beans contain higher amounts of chlorogenic acid, which not only increases metabolism and lowers blood sugar, but also has been studied for its beneficial effect on high blood pressure.
Garcinia Cambogia: The major compound of this fat buster is hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which researchers have lauded for its ability to prevent carbs from turning into fat. Small human studies on Garcinia cambogia have found it to be effective for weight loss. It’s also known to reduce sugar cravings.
put stress in your rearview mirror
Prolonged stress can have a profound effect on the body, and weight gain in particular, since stress can boost the body’s level of cortisol (the hormone that breaks down muscle and stores fat). A study in the journal Obesity found that stressful life events raise cortisol and trigger stress eating, leading to fat gain. Consider the following supplements for help with managing how your body responds to stress:
Rhodiola rosea: This significantly studied herb works as an adaptogen to increase stress resistance, enhance mental focus, and reduce fatigue. Botanical medicine expert and author of Life Is Your Best Medicine, Tieraona Low Dog, MD, says rhodiola is excellent for managing “fatigue, mental fog, trouble concentrating, low energy and, perhaps, mild depression.” This herb is best taken early in the day to avoid interfering with sleep.
AshwagandHa: Multiple studies have found this Indian herb to be an effective remedy for anxiety and depression, with some experts going so far as to put it on par with certain pharmaceutical tranquilizers and antidepressant drugs.
Omega-3s: There isn’t much omega-3 fatty acids aren’t good for. When it comes to stress reduction, a growing volume of research has pointed to the ability of this fish and algae-derived nutrient’s ability to promote structural improvement in the parts of the brain that regulate mood and emotion.
Vitamin C: Adrenal fatigue is a major culprit for energy crashes and weight-loss resistance, according to Virgin. “Your adrenals house more vitamin C than any other organ, and stress burns it up like crazy,” she says. “I recommend people supplement, especially if they’re not eating enough leafy greens and berries.”
navigating the inevitable pitfalls
No matter how strong your resolve, every health-related resolution will suffer a setback or two. Author and nutritionist JJ Virgin offers three common sense tips for overcoming the most common pitfalls that tend to torpedo weight-loss resolutions.
Surround yourself with support. Studies show that having like-minded friends helps you stay accountable and increases the odds that you’ll achieve your goals. “You’re much more likely to attain and maintain fat loss when your friends prefer to hit the skinny jeans rack at Nordstrom’s rather than that new bistro’s pumpkin pastry,” she says.
Keep your expectations reasonable. You want to save the world—or at least achieve a lean, healthy physique—and you want it now. So you change your diet, amp up your workout, and manage stress, all while juggling a zillion other demands. That lasts for about two weeks, when you crash from exhaustion. Take it one step at a time. Mastering fat loss isn’t a destination—it’s a journey and daily commitment.
Be mindful of what you eat. Even healthy foods like almond butter can become unhealthy when you overdo them. “If one spoonful becomes the whole container, keep it out of your kitchen,” advises Virgin.
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