For every man who transforms himself this year, there will be countless others who will stall, relapse, or never actually begin to change. What makes the difference? And how can you be among the group whose January 1 resolutions see the other side of April intact? The answer may be a mantra as simple as "Focus on February."
How so? Researchers from Sheffield University in England found that sticking with something for five weeks is more likely to turn it into a habit, a lifestyle change. They monitored 94 people at a gym for 12 weeks, and found that those who showed up and sweated for five weeks straight had a much better chance of lasting the study's duration. "During the 5-week period, there seems to be a shift from initial voluntary control to repeated habitual behavior," says Christopher J. Armitage, Ph.D., the lead author.
The implications are huge: In a little more than a month, you can overcome your worst habits. Five weeks. Count ’em on one hand. Could it be any easier?
Even better, our New Year, New You 2012 center will coach you every step of the way, with simple 30-day plans for accomplishing nine popular New Year’s resolutions. And when I say simple, I really mean it. Consider one of the most popular resolutions: Lose 10 to 20 pounds. Our plan is so easy you can start tomorrow. Just do this:
7:30 AM Exercise for 11 Minutes
Believe it or not, an 11-minute workout can help you burn more fat all day long, say researchers from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. In the study, people who lifted weights for that duration three times a week increased their metabolic rate even as they slept. "The process of breaking down and repairing your muscles increases your metabolism," says study author Erik Kirk, Ph.D. What's more, the participants were able to fit their workouts into their schedules 96 percent of the time.
And don’t forget your legs.In a new Syracuse University study, people burned more calories the day after they did lower-body resistance training than the day after they worked their upper body. "Leg muscles like your quads and glutes generally have more mass than the muscles in your chest and arms," says study author Kyle Hackney, Ph.D.
Warning: Your breakfast may be larger than it appears. Cornell University scientists found that people ate more cereal from bigger bowls than from smaller ones, even though they thought the opposite to be true. "It's called the size-contrast illusion," says researcher Brian Wansink, Ph.D. "Because food takes up a smaller percentage of space in larger dishes, it seems like you're eating less." Use a measuring cup to portion out your cereal; in a few days, you'll be able to eyeball servings accurately.