We’ve already praised strength training, but it gets even better when you set yourself free. And by that, we mean step off the leg-press and start squatting with a pair of dumbbells. Working out with free weights can activate muscles more effectively, and as we’ve learned, muscle can torch calories.
52. Get Trackin’
Writing stuff down may be helpful, but it’s tough to accurately gauge how much we move every day (and not just on the treadmill). Invest in an on-body device like the BodyMedia trackers or the Nike+ FuelBand to monitor energy burn. Or invest in a pedometer to track daily steps. Studies show that individuals who walk more tend to be thinner than those who walk less, and pedometer-based walking programs result in weight loss.
53. Use an App a Day
A new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that using a mobile device was more effective in helping people lose weight than tracking diets on paper . Apps like Fitocracy, MyFitnessPal, and StrongLIfts help users track daily activity, food intake, and gamify weight loss by awarding points for workouts. Tracking with the help of apps may help us regulate our behavior and be mindful of our health and fitness choices.
54. Point and Shoot
We can write down what we eat, but when we look back a week later we may have a tough time visualizing exactly what a meal looked like. A quicker, and perhaps more telling, alternative is to take photos of each meal. A small study showed that photographic food diaries could alter attitudes and behaviors associated with food choices more likely than written diaries . Grab a camera and get snapping!
55. Pump Up the Jams
Pack your playlist with upbeat tunes. Research shows music that has 180 beats per minute—like, say, “Hey Ya” by OutKast—will naturally prompt a quicker pace. Plus, music serves as a distraction, which can help take attention off a grueling gym sesh.
56. Avoid Injuries
Right when you’re all gung-ho about hitting the gym and getting fit, there’s nothing worse than a pulled hammy or pesky shin splints. Read up on how to avoid the most common yoga injuries (often from over-stretching and misalignment), and running injuries (like stress fractures, pulled muscles, and blisters) to make sure you’re in tip-top shape to get in shape. Make sure to get in a good warm-up, too. Studies show we perform our best and better avoid injury after warming up.
57. Jot it Down
If using fancy apps seems too daunting, research suggests there’s still merit to the old pen and paper. Monitoring our food intake with a food diary can help to lose and maintain weight . In fact people who stick to food diaries are more likely to lose weight than those who don’t. Recording each bite helps us be aware of not only the foods we eat, but when, and how much we eat them.
58. Get Functional
Functional exercise has been shown to increase strength and balance and reduce risk of injury all while working multiple muscle groups at the same time. All that movement promotes muscle gain, which can increase metabolism, which can over time help shed fat. Added bonus: Functional exercises can help make real life tasks, like hauling groceries up the stairs, a lot easier.
59. Swig Some Caffeine
Getting a morning jolt from java may be a part of your daily routine, but sipping some coffee before a workout can actually boost endurance during exercise. How’s it work? Caffeine slows glycogen depletion (the starch our bodies turn to for energy during exercise) by encouraging the body to use fat for fuel first.