Ah, January. The time of year when we all solemnly swear we’ll clean up our act by eating better (“no carbs EVER again!”) and working out every single day (at 6 a.m.!”) in order to combat the past month’s shameless overindulging. While goals of this nature are certainly healthy, they also can get overwhelming—not to mention unrealistic—without some semblance of a plan or a regimen. That’s why we’ve enlisted fitness expert and go-to celebrity trainer David Kirsch to hook you up with six simple steps to seamlessly, realistically get back on track in 2014.
Keep in mind, these tips aren’t for those looking to drop mega-weight, but rather for those of us who used the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s to eat and drink more than we typically might, and want to jumpstart our systems in an easy way, while keeping our expectations in check. Read on for a healthier you!
1. Follow your ABCs
According to Kirsch, the very first thing to do it to commit to cutting what he calls the ABCs—no Alcohol, no Bread, and no processed Carbs. Stick to lean proteins like chicken or salmon, and lots of green veggies.
2. Make smart additions … and snack!
While you’re cutting the ABCs from your diet, there are plenty of additions to make in order to feel full—and full of energy. “I swear by lean protein and lots of green vegetables—spinach, kale, turkey burgers, chicken and salmon are some of my favorites,” Kirsch said. “Also, quinoa is a great grain to incorporate.”
In terms of the all-important snack? “I’m a fan of snacking on healthy vegetables combined with protein—celery and almond butter, or red and green bell peppers with my nonfat hummus recipe [below]” Kirsch added.
3. No cash to join a gym? That’s no excuse
If the holiday season did a number on your wallet and joining a gym isn’t an option until later in the year, there are still tons of exercises you can do sans a fancy gym memberships. While some might require you picking up a pair of weights or a medicine ball (still cheaper than joining a gym, people), others just require a few minutes of commitment each day.
“Try one of my 10-Minute Express Workouts first thing in the morning to get your heart rate up without even leaving your house,” said Kirsch, who advises stringing together moves that target different areas of the body, like sumo lunges, Spiderman push-ups, plie squats with a medicine ball, shadow boxing with light weights, or reverse crossover lunges to strengthen. The good news: Each of these moves are easy to master with a little Googling. Of course, if you’re lucky enough to live somewhere warm (or able to brave the elements), Kirsch advises to regularly run or bike outdoors.
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4. Reassess your goals—but take baby steps to achieve them
If you feel like you really let yourself go at the end of 2013, reassess your fitness goals and habits to make healthier choices and get back in shape, or get into better shape, Kirsch suggested. “Just remember that if your New Year’s resolution involves fitness, it’s better to take baby steps than to give your entire routine a makeover. For example, instead of resolving to run five miles daily, resolve to take the stairs instead of the elevator, and eat a salad for lunch. Gradually work your way up and your goals won’t seem overwhelming.”
5. Restaurant recon
If you often find yourself dining out, sticking to your nutritions goals can get tricky. The first order of business: Do some online digging beforehand to see what’s on the menu. Having an idea of what you’re going to order beforehand will allow you to make smarter choices. In terms of what to avoid, Kirsch suggests nixing the bread basket, and anything fried, breaded, or made with cream. “A good trick: Order a salad as soon as you sit down, that will keep you from reaching for the bread while waiting for your meal,” he said, adding: I always recommend staying away from the dessert –they’re filled with empty calories and you don’t need them.”
6. Indulge wisely
All-encompassing deprivation only leads to failure, so indulging occasionally isn’t the end of the world. If you’re going out during the weekend and don’t want to abstain completely, Kirsch recommends a glass of red wine or a vodka soda. For something sweet, a small piece of dark chocolate or a fruit tart work if you need a bite of dessert.
David Kirsch’s Nonfat Hummus
Serve this as a snack with celery, whole grain crackers, or cucumber slices. For more zip, add more cayenne or a few drops of pepper hot sauce.
1 1/2 cups cooked or canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground cayenne
1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
In a food processor, combine all ingredients. Process until well blended. Use immediately or refrigerate up to three hours.
Makes 2 servings. Per serving: 227 calories, 12g protein, 40g carbohydrate, 3g fat, 0g saturated fat, 10g fiber, 4g sugar
For more healthy tips from David, check out DavidKirschWellness.com or keep with him on Twitter @DavidKirsch.