Despite best intentions on January 1, many people will admit that their resolutions often do not last into February, let alone a whole 12 months, and when it comes to diet and fitness it can be especially hard to stick to.
As with any resolution in life, the key is to make it achievable and space out the challenges, which in turn will mean any benefits are also longer lasting and not simply short-term gains.
With that in mind, Men’s Health has created the following 12-month plan to help you get in the best shape of your life in 2017 without it seeming like mission impossible.
January – exercise less
Give in to the pull of the sofa and exercise less. A new Danish study asked men to run for either 30 or 60 mins a day. Those who jogged for 30 mins lost 3.6kg in three months – a kilo more than the 60 mins group. Men who kept things short and sharp were believed to have eaten less and had more energy for the rest of the day.
February – vitamin D is key
Your immune system hits a yearly low in February. Research at The Scripps Institute in San Diego shows that keeping your viral defences on high alert helps regulate your appetite and gives you one less excuse to cancel on your PT, so fend off the flu with vitamin D-rich foods such as salmon.
March – the big breakfast
Your insulin response in spring can be 30 per cent lower than in September, so calories are likely to be burned straight away, not stored. Amplify this effect by making breakfast your biggest meal: your body uses energy to heat itself up in the morning.
April – see the light
Take advantage of the lighter evenings by heading to your local park and hammering out a few squats and press-ups. People who only train in the evening improve muscle strength by 20 per cent more than morning people, with studies showing that strength training can increase your basal metabolic rate by 6.8 per cent.
May – use the wrong hand
A study in The Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that eating with your non-dominant hand decreased food intake by 30 per cent. Another strategy to cut down on absent-minded scoffing is using chopsticks.
June – get your 40 winks
Short nights can mean less quality rest and more obesity; sleep-deprived people are hungrier because their levels of satiety hormones leptin and ghrelin are disrupted, so get a good amount of sleep every night.
July – bye bye to the barbie
Ditching BBQ food not only means you can avoid the extra 2,000 calories of overeating that the average person consumes at a barbie. Researchers have also linked methylglyoxal – a compound in grilled food – with abdominal weight gain, so poach, steam or stew instead.
August – maximise your storage
In summer, the body lays down excess carbohydrates as fat stores for winter, so you crave more sugar. Maintain your hard-earned beach body by filling up on protein and healthy fats found in vegetable oils and fish.
September – go nuts
Eating walnuts can kick-start your autumn weight loss, as they are high in antioxidants and full of gut-busting good fats. Research from the Spanish university of Navarra shows that eating 30g a day can help you shed 2.1cm from your waist.
October – simply the test
November – give probiotics a try
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that supplementing your diet with 16g of probiotics a day is enough to curb your appetite and result in a 1.4 per cent reduction in bodyweight after just 12 weeks, plus you’ll enjoy an added immunity boost.
December – pump some festive iron
The hormone melatonin peaks this month at 80 per cent higher than in July. According to the European Journal of Endocrinology, it promotes the release of growth hormones. Packing on five pounds of muscle will burn off an extra 900 calories a month – or three mince pies and a glass of champagne, which can cancel out the festive excess.
Men’s Health is the world’s largest men’s magazine brand. It contains a wide range of features and advice on the topics of fitness, nutrition, fashion and lifestyle. For more exercise hints, diet tips and other information, visit www.menshealth.co.uk.