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10 Simple Ways to Make 2017 Your Best Year Yet

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10 Simple Ways to Make 2017 Your Best Year Yet

Take a minute and ponder the following question:

What three things would most make this year great?

That is, what are the three biggest things that you could make happen this year to make it truly special?

Do you want to lose that weight, or maybe even build your best body ever?

Graduate cum laude, or maybe even summa cum laude?

Get that job, or maybe even double your income?

Find that special someone, or maybe even hear him/her say “I do”?

Well, whatever your short list of “highly desirables,” here’s something you should know:

The physically healthier and fitter you are, the easier they will be to achieve.

And, as a corollary, the unhealthier and more unfit you are, the more you’re going to struggle with this year’s goals.

In other words, your physiology is going to be working for or against you, helping carry you forward, or dragging you down.

When it’s on your side, you can focus all of your attention and energy on the journey ahead, and travel with speed and spirit. When it’s in the way, though, it sucks the life out of you, slows you down, and makes even the smallest tasks look Sisyphean.

That’s why number one on your to-do list for this year should be getting into great health and shape.

You’re going to look better, think better, and feel better than ever before, and that’s going to help you become all that you can be.

And that’s what this article is going to be all about.

In it, you’re going to learn the ten best ways to optimize your health and fitness. They’re simple, powerful, and even transformative, and they deliver results fast.

Ready?

Let’s get to it.

1. Do at least 2 to 3 resistance training workouts per week.

No other type of exercise benefits your body composition and metabolism like resistance training.

Quite simply, resistance training is the simplest way to not only transform your physique, but to enhance just about every element of your body and mind, as well.

Even better, you don’t have to live in the gym to reap all these benefits. Just a few well-designed workouts per week is enough.

Want to learn how to get the most out of your resistance training workouts? Check out this article.

2. Don’t do too much cardio.

Cardio is overrated.

First, it’s not all that great for losing weight, because it doesn’t burn as many calories as many people think, and it’s too easy to eat the calories that it does burn.

Second, the more cardio you do, the harder it is to gain muscle, and if taken too far, the more likely you are to actually lose muscle.

This is more important than many people realize, because while they say they want to lose weight, what they should be saying is they want to lose fat and not muscle.

That is, your goal should never be to merely reduce the number on scale, because you can accomplish this by losing both fat and muscle, and wind up skinny fat.

Instead, you want to think in terms of reducing your body fat percentage while preserving or even gaining muscle (improving your body composition).

This, ultimately, is how you build a lean, muscular, and attractive physique, and this requires focusing more on resistance training and less on cardio.

Want to learn more about how much cardio you should do and what types are best? Check out this article.

Use this workout and flexible dieting program to lose up to 10 pounds of fat and build muscle in just 30 days…without starving yourself or living in the gym.

3. Don’t starve yourself.

There’s a lot wrong with “starvation dieting,” ranging from muscle loss to metabolic slowdown, depression, hormonal imbalances, and more.

What qualifies as a true starvation diet, though?

Is it simply one that leaves you feeling “starved” throughout the day?

Not necessarily. Some people are more physiologically and psychologically inclined to struggle with hunger and cravings, even when calories are only mildly restricted.

Is it one that has you eating fewer calories per day than some arbitrary number?

No.

Many people (women, mainly) are told that they should never dip below a certain caloric intake to lose fat, regardless of the diet’s macronutritional profile or their current body weight and composition.

Most of this advice is wrongheaded, mainly because people often need to eat quite a bit less every day than they think (and want) to lose fat effectively.

This is especially true for women that are used to hearing how much men should eat, because their numbers look pitifully low in comparison. What they’re missing is they can’t eat nearly as much because their bodies are, generally, much smaller and less muscular, which means which means they burn quite a bit less energy.

For example, your average 150-pound woman’s basal metabolic rate is around 1,400 calories per day, whereas your average 200-pound man’s is closer to 2,000. Thus, the average guy can eat at least 500 to 600 more calories per day when losing weight than the average girl can.

What is a starvation diet, then?

Well, it’s a diet that has you eating significantly less than your basal metabolic rate for an extended period of time.

The longer you do this, the more likely you are to experience the negative side effects listed above, and that’s why I recommend that you use an aggressive, but not reckless, caloric deficit when dieting to lose weight.

Want to know how to figure out how many calories you should eat every day? Check out this article.

4. Eat a high-protein diet.

Scores of studies have conclusively proven that a high-protein diet beats a low-protein one in just about every way that matters, and this is especially true for us fitness folk.

Here are the highlights:

You build more muscle and get stronger on a high-protein diet.

Muscle tissue is primarily composed of protein, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that a high-protein diet helps you build it faster. And with more muscle comes more strength.

You see, when you train your muscles, you’re simultaneously damaging and breaking down muscle tissue and beginning a process known as “protein synthesis” whereby the body creates (synthesizes) new muscle proteins to replace and add to the damaged tissues.

This is why exercise, and resistance training in particular, increases the protein needs of the body, and why a high-protein diet helps you build more muscle and strength.

You lose more fat and less muscle on a high-protein diet.

Research clearly shows that a high-protein diet is better for both losing fat faster and preserving muscle than a low-protein one.

Furthermore, studies also show that a high-protein diet results in less mood disturbance, stress, fatigue, and diet dissatisfaction, and this helps greatly with dietary compliance.

Remember: in many ways, the best diet is one that you can stick to. A high-protein diet is a lot easier to follow than a low-protein one, which is one of the reasons it works so well.

You feel fuller on a high-protein diet.

One of the biggest dietary obstacles people run into is plain old hunger.

It can be incredibly hard to regulate food intake when your stomach feels like a grumbling Sarlacc Pit, and a high-protein diet can help.

Specifically, research shows that increasing protein intake decreases appetite through several mechanisms, including favorably altering hormones related to hunger and fullness.

This satiating effect not only applies to a high-protein diet in general, but to individual meals as well. Studies show that high-protein meals are more filling than high-fat ones, making you less likely to overeat.

All this is why I recommend eating between 0.8 and 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day, and for those that are very overweight, 1 gram per pound of fat-free mass per day.

Want to learn more about how much protein you should eat and why? Check out this article.

5. Eat at least 2 to 3 servings of both fruit and vegetables per day.

Research clearly shows that people who eat higher amounts of fruits and vegetables are more likely to live longer, disease-free lives than those who don’t eat enough.

Unfortunately, however, few people eat enough of these plant foods, and fewer still know how much they’re supposed to eat and why.

(The government recommends that adults eat about 3 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit per day.)

One of the reasons that fruit and vegetable intake is so important is they’re the primary source of many of the micronutrients our bodies need to stay alive and healthy.

Another lesser-known reason is plant foods also contain other types of natural chemicals that aren’t essential to life, but help your body perform better and ward off disease (phytonutrients).

Two good examples of phytonutrients are the chemicals sulforaphane and anthocyanins, which are found in large amounts in broccoli and blueberries, respectively.

These molecules confer a variety of health benefits but aren’t listed on food labels, so many people aren’t even aware of their existence.

It’s “nonvital” nutrients like these that explain why even a well-formulated multivitamin can’t take the place of a vegetable-rich diet. The multivitamin can provide the essential vitamins and minerals, but not the wide spectrum of additional phytonutrients provided by foods.

So, if your fruit and vegetable intake is wanting, getting it up to snuff is the easiest thing you can do to improve your mental and physical health and well-being.

That doesn’t mean you have to force down bland, boring food every day, either. Here are a bunch of recipes that help make it enjoyable:

Want to learn more about what a “healthy” diet really is? Check out this article.

6. Get enough sleep.

In 2014, the Center for Disease Control declared that insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic.

According to polling conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, 43% of Americans between the ages of 13 and 64 say they rarely or never get a good night’s sleep on weeknights. 60% say that they experience a sleep problem every night or almost every night.

The most common troubles are having trouble falling asleep, snoring, waking in the night, waking too early, and not feeling refreshed in the morning.

Most people don’t realize how negatively this can impact their mental and physical health.

Sleep insufficiency has been linked to auto crashes, industrial disasters, and medical and other occupational errors. It also increases the mortality and the risk of chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes, depression, obesity, and cancer, and it reduces quality of life and productivity.

Studies show that inadequate sleep can even slow weight loss, lead to weight gain and muscle loss, and reduce testosterone levels.

The bottom line is that your sleep hygiene is like your diet—it’s either working for you or against you, regardless of whether you realize it.

Sleep needs vary from individual to individual, but according to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night to avoid the negative effects of sleep deprivation.

Want to know how to get the best sleep of your life? Check out this article.

7. Take the right supplements.

Here’s a simple truth that many supplement companies don’t want you to know:

Supplements don’t build great physiques. Dedication to proper training and nutrition does.

Unfortunately, the supplement industry is plagued by pseudoscience, ridiculous hype, misleading advertising and endorsements, and many other shenanigans.

For example…

The reality is most supplement companies produce cheap, junk products, and then try to dazzle you with ridiculous marketing claims, high-profile (and very expensive) endorsements, pseudo-scientific babble, fancy-sounding proprietary blends, and flashy packaging.

That said, there are safe, natural substances that have been scientifically proven to deliver benefits such as increased strength, muscle endurance and growth, fat loss, and more.

As a part of my work, it’s been my job to know what these substances are, and find products with them that I can use myself and recommend to others. Finding high-quality, effective, and fairly priced products has always been a struggle, though.

That’s why I took matters into my own hands and decided to create my own line of 100% natural, science-based supplements. These are, in short, the formulations that I myself have always wanted and wished that others would create.

I won’t go into a whole spiel here, but if you want to learn more about what I’m doing, check this out.

8. Improve your flexibility and mobility.

If you want to gain muscle and strength as quickly as possible, then you want to be able to perform several high-value exercises correctly.

Namely, the squat, deadlift, bench press, and military press.

These four compound exercises train every major muscle group in your body, and they lend themselves particularly well to progressive overload, which is the primary driver of muscle growth.

They’re also easier said than done, because they’re fairly technical exercises (the finer points of form really matter), and they require a fair amount of flexibility and mobility.

That’s why spending time on improving your ability to move your body and limbs through full ranges of motion can pay huge dividends in your training.

The better your movement patterns are, the better you’ll be able to perform in your workouts, and the better your results will ultimately be.

A little bit of flexibility and mobility work goes a long way, too. Just 30 minutes or so per week is enough to reap considerable benefits.

Want to learn more about mobility exercises? Check out this article.

9. Reach and maintain a healthy body weight.

If you want to not just look and feel great, but also ward off disease or dysfunction, then you want to…

  1. Eat plenty of nutritious foods.
  2. Exercise regularly.
  3. Get enough sleep.
  4. Not smoke.
  5. Limit your alcohol intake.

And last but not least…

  1. Not be overweight.

Few people would argue with the first five points, but many would take umbrage with this final one, not because they have facts to refute it, but because it hurts their feelings.

Well, science doesn’t care about feelings, and the evidence is abundantly clear: being overweight is unhealthy, and being obese is even more so.

The heavier you are, the more likely you are to develop all kinds of chronic disease, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, several types of cancer, gallbladder disease, gout, osteoarthritis, and several other conditions.

These realities may offend the delicate sensibilities of politically correct groupthinkers, but that doesn’t make them any less accurate.

Just because someone wants to believe that they can be “healthy at any size” doesn’t make it true, and “but muh feelings” isn’t an argument.

Now, while  keeping an eye on your weight is a good start, if you want to maximize health and longevity, then you also want to pay attention to your body composition (how your weight breaks down into muscle and non-muscle tissues).

First, there’s your body fat percentage, which is the percentage of your weight comprised of fat.

If you keep this in a healthy range (10 to 20% in men, and 20 to 30% in women), then you don’t have to even pay attention to your body weight. It more or less takes care of itself.

Second, there’s your lean body mass, which is the amount of your weight comprised of muscle.

Research shows that the more muscularly fit you are, the less likely you are to develop chronic disease and die, which is one of the many reasons why resistance training is one of the best things you can do for your body.

Want to learn more about measuring and improving your body composition? Check out this article.

10. Stop drinking calories.

If you love to drink caloric beverages, ranging from soda to sports and energy drinks to fruit juices, you’re probably always going to struggle with your weight.

The major problem with these drinks is they don’t trigger satiety like food.

You can drink 1,000 calories and be hungry an hour later, whereas eating 1,000 calories of food, including a good portion of protein and fiber, will probably keep you full for 5 to 6 hours.

Here’s how scientists at Purdue University put it:

“Based on the appetitive findings, consumption of an energy-yielding beverage either with a meal or as a snack poses a greater risk for promoting positive energy than macronutrient-matched semisolid or solid foods consumed at these times.”

In other words, people that drink calories are much more likely to overeat than those that don’t.

This is why research shows a clear association between greater intakes of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain, and is one of several reasons to drink water instead.

Want to know more about how much water you should drink and why? Check out this article.

Is there anything that you think should be added to this list? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!

OVER 500,000 PEOPLE HAVE USED MY BOOKS TO BUILD THEIR BEST BODY EVER. WILL YOU BE NEXT?

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  • The 7 biggest muscle building myths & mistakes that keep guys small, weak, and frustrated. (These BS lies are pushed by all the big magazines and even by many trainers.)
  • How to build meal plans that allow you to build muscle, lose fat, and get healthy with ease…eating foods you love (yes, including those deemed “unclean” by certain “gurus”)…and never feeling starved, deprived, or like you’re “on a diet.”
  • The 5 biggest fat loss myths & mistakes that keep women overweight, disappointed, and confused. (These BS lies are pushed by all the big magazines and even by many trainers.)
  • An all-in-one training system that delivers MAXIMUM results for your efforts…spending no more than 3 to 6 hours in the gym every week…doing workouts that energize you, not wipe you out.
  • A no-BS guide to supplements that will save you hundreds if not THOUSANDS of dollars each year that you would’ve wasted on products that are nothing more than bunk science and marketing hype.
  • And a whole lot more!

The bottom line is you CAN achieve that “Hollywood body" without having your life revolve around it. No long hours in the gym, no starving yourself, and no grueling cardio that turns your stomach.

My book will show you how. Get it today and let’s build a body you can be proud of.

Bigger Leaner Stronger

Bigger Leaner Stronger

Thinner Leaner Stronger

Thinner Leaner Stronger

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I'm Mike and I'm the creator of Muscle for Life and Legion Athletics, and I believe that EVERYONE can achieve the body of their dreams.

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  • Thanks for stopping by and checking out my article! I hope you enjoyed it.

    Feel free to comment below if you have any questions. I do my best to check and reply to every comment left on my blog, so don’t be shy!

    Oh and if you like what I have to say, you should sign up for my free weekly newsletter! You’ll get awesome, science-based health and fitness tips, delicious “guilt-free” recipes, articles to keep you motivated, and much more!

    You can sign up here:

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    Your information is safe with me too. I don’t share, sell, or rent my lists. Pinky swear!

  • Phil

    ‘Do you want to lose that weight, or maybe even build your best body ever?
    Graduate cum laude, or maybe even summa cum laude?
    Get that job, or maybe even double your income?
    Find that special someone, or maybe even hear him/her say “I do”?’

    Haha, you guessed all my goals for this year!
    Great article Mike, hope you have a great year!

  • Ben Hucks

    Hey Mike,
    Does “don’t drink calories” include protein shakes? I’m a Legion Whey fan and I mix it with skim milk and creatine once a day, usually after training. Should I be doing something different?

  • Greg Kuczynski

    I love your stuff mike. I must get ~700 emails a day, and this is the most regularly read one. I have an item that you could add to your list… would be curious if you spend much time thinking about it…. meditation.

    • Thanks so much Greg. I really appreciate it. I’ve definitely looked into it, but it’s just not my thing…

  • Henry

    Hey Mike,
    First of all, thanks for all the amazing info you put out there. I really like that you are scientifically minded and cite all the studies.

    I got both your “bigger leaner stronger” book and the “1 year challenge”, and am nearing the end of year 1. I think I made some gains (definitely blasted through some PRs), but there is one thing that always keeps me back: I keep getting sick. cold and flu like symptoms. Just now I’m coming off the 4th cold in 2 months. It really fucks with my workout scedule having to start from the bottom each time.
    Could you give me some pointers on how to prevent this? I only work out 5 times a week (3 times heavy, and bodyweight core twice a week). Or maybe you could point me to an article that can help me.

    Thanks in advance and greetings from Switzerland!

  • Bruce Wayne

    Hey Mike, thanks for the great article. Could you write one on managing working out twice a day? Morning and evening times? If it’s doable or not, etc.

    • Glad you enjoyed the article! Do you mean weights 2x/day? Cardio+weights is okay, but not weights+weights. That’ll be too much volume all in the same day.

  • Chadd Salamone

    Hi Mike, Do you have any info on your Workout Journal App? I haven’t seen any info on this in a while and this app is exactly what I’m looking for.

    • We’re looking pretty good for a January release. It’s going through pre-flight testing right now, so expect 1-2 weeks if we don’t run into any snags.

  • 溫宇謙

    Hi, I’m really curious about this.
    I’ve been counting my macros gram by gram, and getting grate results.
    However I’ve been trying a high protein like 400calories above my TDEE just for fun for one month and I didn’t gain any weight lol.
    Mike mentioned that eating too much carb is going to reduce fat oxidation, but what happens if we eat too much protein?
    Do you guys have any research on hand that can share with me?:p
    (By the way I’ll get back to the BBLS program right away, not trying to hack my metabolism, just want to content my curiosity)

    • Glad to hear you’re doing well!

      There’s evidence that very high-protein diets may be better for muscle building than our normal high-protein intake, but I’m not sold on it just yet…

  • Uly

    Happy New Year Mike!!!
    1- Finish up my college education
    2- Get in the best shape i can possible can (lose extra pounds, while building more muscle)
    3-Get into a new apartment!

    Thanks for all the amazing articles and information you provide us!

  • Mauricio Perez

    Hello Mike, anothe great article, Im a big fan of your books and job, I just bought the Phoenix Fat Burner,
    Quick question, on sept I started with a bulking diet following your advices, with 79.2 kilos and 9% body fat, therefore with 72 kilos of lean body mass, on decembre I was in 87 kilos, then I Started a cutting diet, and right now Im at 84.6k with 15.7% body fat, that makes me with 71kilos of lean body mass, so Im with the same lean body mass after bulking 8 kilos and cutting 2.5kilos
    My question is, Did I did something bad? Cuz it seems that all the muscle that I added, I just missed it by doing the cutting diet??
    Thanks for your advice, cheers.
    Mauricio, From México….

    • Hey hey! Glad you’re enjoying everything and thanks for picking up Phoenix! LMK how you like it. 🙂

      You gained weight really fast. And the faster you gain weight, the higher the percentage of weight gain is body fat. Also, how you were training and what your macro split was could’ve affected things too. Take a look at this:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/bulking-up/

      Hope this helps. LMK what you think!

  • Krismathew

    Thank you for sharing such a health blog. i really find it innovative. keep sharing such more post.http://www.dropship-rx.com/pharmacy-dropshipper.

  • AchubbyHubby

    Mike.

    Been getting low BS post cardio and not sure why. I have eaten before, less carbs, more carbs and its happened both times. Nothing to severe but I feel shaky and crappy. 20-25 min of HIIT and the other time ss cardio for 35 min. BS were 68 and 69 respectively about a week apart. Pre workout meals small and large respectively. I am at a loss. Will be asking my doc next month when I go just figured you may have had this happen at least once. TY in advance.

    • Hmm. Not sure why that’s happening. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help.

      LMK how it goes with the doc.

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