Happy New Year

      76 Comments on Happy New Year

I hope you all had a good holiday season. I also hope you didn’t wake up on Friday and make lofty New Year’s resolutions you’re unlikely to keep … you know, stuff like “I’m going to lose 30 pounds by March!”

I’m not opposed to New Year’s resolutions, mind you. I just think too many people go about it the wrong way; i.e., they promise themselves they’ll achieve specific results instead of promising to develop better habits. We can choose our habits. We can’t control the results. You may think it would be awesome to lose 30 pounds in two months, but your body’s biological software may not be programmed to go along with the plan. Set yourself an unlikely goal, and the likely outcome is that you’ll end up labeling yourself a failure.

So pretty please with stevia on top: if you have a list of diet and fitness resolutions for 2016, make sure you define your goals in terms of actions, not results.

That being said, if you’re not happy with last year’s results, here’s something you can resolve to do: mix it up and experiment. We’re all different, and a plan that worked wonders for other people might not be right for you. If you’ve been on an almost-zero-carb diet and still can’t seem to lose weight, you can try giving up dairy products. (I’ve seen that break a stall for a few people.) You can try introducing probiotics, resistant starches and more fiber to feed the good gut bacteria. You can try something more along the lines of the lowish-carb Zone diet or Perfect Health Diet. You can try adding a carb night to an otherwise ketogenic diet to see if it jump-starts a slow thyroid.

The point is, if you’re not happy where you’re at, don’t just resolve to do more of the same and hope for better results. It can’t hurt to give other plans a month-long test and see what happens. And if it turns out nothing you try breaks that stall, then let it go and resolve to focus on being healthy.

I didn’t make any dramatic resolutions this year, but I am adopting one new habit: winter huff-and-puff exercise. I get plenty of huff-and-puff exercise during warm months just by working on the farm. Carrying t-posts up the hills, pounding them in (and trying to avoid head-whacking incidents), pushing The Beast through the briar jungles, five-hour sessions pushing a mower up and down the back hills … yeah, that’s real exercise.

But in the winter months, I don’t usually do much besides lift weights once per week. With all the holiday busy-ness and family-and-friends visits this year, I ended up lifting weights just twice between my birthday and New Year’s. My last all-day mowing session was in early November. Toss in some holiday junk food and adult beverages, and by Christmas I was aware of feeling … well, not exactly soft, but certainly less tuned up than in the summer months.

The weekend weather gave me a chance to confirm my suspicions. It was 50 degrees on Sunday, so I told Chareva I’d put together the picnic table that’s been sitting in pieces in our garage. I tossed most of the planks and other parts into our garden cart and pulled them up the back hill to a location near her garden.

Holy @#$%, I grumbled to myself once I stopped the cart and unloaded. I should not be breathing this hard after pulling one load up the hill. If this were last July, I’d barely be winded.

So I resolved to get more endurance-building exercise during the cold, no-farm-work months. But doing what? I’ve considered getting a recumbent exercise bike before, but man, they’re bulky. I didn’t like the idea of crowding our limited basement space with one of those.

Well, it so happens Chareva wanted a bicycle for Christmas. It occurred to me that I could just add one of those indoor trainers to her bike and voila! Instant exercise bike for indoors. Now I just needed an intelligent plan for making use of it.

During our visit to Illinois, The Older Brother told me he’d been reading Mark Sisson’s book Primal Endurance, and it made a lot of sense. I wondered why I hadn’t received a copy. Turns out it was in the mail we had held during our trip. I’m most of the way through the book (which I’ll review soon), and it’s definitely given me a plan for using the bike to get into summer-work shape long before summer.

Again, we’re talking about the actions I can take, not the results. The results will be what they will be … but of course, I’ll write about them when I feel there’s something worth reporting.

In the meantime, I thought this might be a fun reader-driven discussion for those who don’t mind sharing:  what’s the dumbest or least useful New Year’s resolution you’ve ever made?  And what’s the smartest or most useful resolution you’ve ever made?

Happy 2016, everyone.

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76 thoughts on “Happy New Year

  1. j

    Winter huff-and-puff? You, sir, could (re)watch Rocky IV. You already have your own personal playground..the farm lol.

    Reply
  2. j

    Winter huff-and-puff? You, sir, could (re)watch Rocky IV. You already have your own personal playground..the farm lol.

    Reply
  3. Chris

    I am going to get Primal Endurance today! I’ve read some reviews about it and they all were real good. Happy New Year!

    Reply
  4. Thomas E.

    Tom,

    Happy 2016 to you as well. And again, thank you for your blog, and everything else you do to push the wisdom of the masses in the correct direction.

    I also really like bicycling, and the weather lately has seen many of my favorite trails overflowing with mud. I have a trainer, just don’t use it nearly as often as I should. I need to fix that.

    regards,
    Thomas

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      Happy New Year to you too, Thomas. I’ve put in a couple of sessions on the bike, which served to confirm that I need to stay in better shape once the farm work ends.

      Reply
  5. Chris

    I am going to get Primal Endurance today! I’ve read some reviews about it and they all were real good. Happy New Year!

    Reply
  6. Tom

    That trainer will possibly tear up your bike tire, make a mess, and make lots of noise, unless you get a trainer tire.

    Reply
  7. Thomas E.

    Tom,

    Happy 2016 to you as well. And again, thank you for your blog, and everything else you do to push the wisdom of the masses in the correct direction.

    I also really like bicycling, and the weather lately has seen many of my favorite trails overflowing with mud. I have a trainer, just don’t use it nearly as often as I should. I need to fix that.

    regards,
    Thomas

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Happy New Year to you too, Thomas. I’ve put in a couple of sessions on the bike, which served to confirm that I need to stay in better shape once the farm work ends.

      Reply
  8. Tom

    That trainer will possibly tear up your bike tire, make a mess, and make lots of noise, unless you get a trainer tire.

    Reply
  9. Galina L.

    I spent my first 35 years in Moscow, where most people lead a very active life, many had small second small houses with gardens, and I noticed, all that didn’t provide the same benefits as s doing a consistent scheduled exercise . My mom is a good example – she leaves on a 4-th floor without an elevator, doesn’t own a car, walks a lot during her day, does calisthenics upon waking up, she is 78 yo. It is still not the enough. After visiting me in US and going to a physical therapy to address several body pains due to a tightness, she joined a sport club in Moscow and hired a personal trainer. Hard work doesn’t cover all aspects of being fit, and it is not always consistent, as you noticed. I also think every one would benefit from doing yoga regularly.

    Reply
      1. Galina L.

        Most of us enjoy the luxery to choose what we do. I guess we all met people who sit on their butt or lay down 23 hours a day, becides doing one hour or 30 minutes of some exercise , which is not enough to prevent dangers of a sedentary life-stile. There are also rare novadays people who do physical labor for a living, they are strong but often worn out and inflexible. You are right, the best thing is to combine not very frequent dog-tired activities and structural exercises.

        Reply
  10. The Older Brother

    My resolution for 2016 is to be less tolerant and more judgmental. I think it could be one of my best resolutions yet.

    [Actually, it’s to be EVEN less tolerant and EVEN more judgmental, because that was also my 2015 New Year’s resolution.]

    You’re going to need a heart rate monitor (HRM) if you want to do the Primal Endurance/Phil Maffetone system right. You’ll be surprised at how slooooowww you have to go at first to keep your heart rate in the Maximum Aerobic Function zone.

    If you don’t want to wear a chest-strap HRM, check out the Scosche Rhythm+. It straps onto your forearm and feeds to a Bluetooth enabled phone. It won’t do the heart rate variability reading if you really want to go all in, but I like the ease of use.

    Another thing that Primal Endurance stressed that hadn’t been emphasized in Maffetone’s book and excellent website (philmaffetone.com) is nasal breathing. I made myself do it and was stunned that my heart rate would jump 5 or so beats per minute if I started mouth breathing, then move back down when I refocused on just breathing through my nose.

    Cheers

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      I didn’t like the idea of a chest-strap contraption, so after reading reviews on various products, I got a FitBit. Once on the bike, I found I had pedal faster than I’d expected to get my heart rate up, but once it’s up, I had to slow down more than expected to stay in the correct zone.

      Reply
  11. Galina L.

    I spent my first 35 years in Moscow, where most people lead a very active life, many had small second small houses with gardens, and I noticed, all that didn’t provide the same benefits as s doing a consistent scheduled exercise . My mom is a good example – she leaves on a 4-th floor without an elevator, doesn’t own a car, walks a lot during her day, does calisthenics upon waking up, she is 78 yo. It is still not the enough. After visiting me in US and going to a physical therapy to address several body pains due to a tightness, she joined a sport club in Moscow and hired a personal trainer. Hard work doesn’t cover all aspects of being fit, and it is not always consistent, as you noticed. I also think every one would benefit from doing yoga regularly.

    Reply
      1. Galina L.

        Most of us enjoy the luxery to choose what we do. I guess we all met people who sit on their butt or lay down 23 hours a day, becides doing one hour or 30 minutes of some exercise , which is not enough to prevent dangers of a sedentary life-stile. There are also rare novadays people who do physical labor for a living, they are strong but often worn out and inflexible. You are right, the best thing is to combine not very frequent dog-tired activities and structural exercises.

        Reply
  12. The Older Brother

    My resolution for 2016 is to be less tolerant and more judgmental. I think it could be one of my best resolutions yet.

    [Actually, it’s to be EVEN less tolerant and EVEN more judgmental, because that was also my 2015 New Year’s resolution.]

    You’re going to need a heart rate monitor (HRM) if you want to do the Primal Endurance/Phil Maffetone system right. You’ll be surprised at how slooooowww you have to go at first to keep your heart rate in the Maximum Aerobic Function zone.

    If you don’t want to wear a chest-strap HRM, check out the Scosche Rhythm+. It straps onto your forearm and feeds to a Bluetooth enabled phone. It won’t do the heart rate variability reading if you really want to go all in, but I like the ease of use.

    Another thing that Primal Endurance stressed that hadn’t been emphasized in Maffetone’s book and excellent website (philmaffetone.com) is nasal breathing. I made myself do it and was stunned that my heart rate would jump 5 or so beats per minute if I started mouth breathing, then move back down when I refocused on just breathing through my nose.

    Cheers

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I didn’t like the idea of a chest-strap contraption, so after reading reviews on various products, I got a FitBit. Once on the bike, I found I had pedal faster than I’d expected to get my heart rate up, but once it’s up, I had to slow down more than expected to stay in the correct zone.

      Reply
  13. Tammy

    I haven’t started reading Primal Endurance yet, but I’ve had it at home for a month or so now – got caught up in the holidays. Glad to hear its a good read so far, looking forward to starting it soon.

    Reply
  14. Desmond

    I can’t remember any absolutely dumb resolutions I ever made, but I can remember my smartest (from last January): to get more sleep. I am not sure if I lived up to it as well as I should have, though.

    Reply
  15. Paul B.

    NYE 2014 I resolved not to make a resolution on NYE 2015. I was successful in keeping that resolution. NYE 2016 I’ll make a resolution to not make a resolution on NYE 2017… (I started this tradition as a child because if I did fail to keep the resolution, I made it a long way into the year before I broke it.)

    Reply
  16. Tammy

    I haven’t started reading Primal Endurance yet, but I’ve had it at home for a month or so now – got caught up in the holidays. Glad to hear its a good read so far, looking forward to starting it soon.

    Reply
  17. Desmond

    I can’t remember any absolutely dumb resolutions I ever made, but I can remember my smartest (from last January): to get more sleep. I am not sure if I lived up to it as well as I should have, though.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I’m pretty sure my dumbest resolution was to go low-cal and low-fat to lose weight … dumb because I made that resolution several times.

      Reply
  18. Paul B.

    NYE 2014 I resolved not to make a resolution on NYE 2015. I was successful in keeping that resolution. NYE 2016 I’ll make a resolution to not make a resolution on NYE 2017… (I started this tradition as a child because if I did fail to keep the resolution, I made it a long way into the year before I broke it.)

    Reply
  19. Bret

    Last year I read an older Sisson book The Primal Blueprint, which influenced my opinions about exercise significantly. Throughout the entire book he made compelling arguments in favor of moving one’s own body weight in nearly all maneuvers, whether in resistance or endurance training. Pushups, planks, pullups, squats, walking, sprinting, etc.

    I think the evolutionary logic strongly supports this view, and as such I think we have reason to believe that this type of training will have the best overall impact on our health and body shape while maintaining our joint function and ergonomic proportions.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      That’s what I like about Mark’s work. He always ties it back to evolutionary principles that make sense.

      Reply
  20. Bret

    Last year I read an older Sisson book The Primal Blueprint, which influenced my opinions about exercise significantly. Throughout the entire book he made compelling arguments in favor of moving one’s own body weight in nearly all maneuvers, whether in resistance or endurance training. Pushups, planks, pullups, squats, walking, sprinting, etc.

    I think the evolutionary logic strongly supports this view, and as such I think we have reason to believe that this type of training will have the best overall impact on our health and body shape while maintaining our joint function and ergonomic proportions.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      That’s what I like about Mark’s work. He always ties it back to evolutionary principles that make sense.

      Reply
  21. Sky King

    You may eventually want to think about getting a StairMaster (Home Model). It has a smaller footprint than many of the other exercise machines, such as an exercise bike, or elliptical machine, or treadmill. I own all of these contraptions, but my favorite is the StairMaster. For me… it’s easier to do sprints on the stairmaster since you only have to push a few buttons to make it go “faster” and by design it forces you to keep up with it or the pedals will just fall to the floor.

    The treadmill is similar to the StairMaster in that respect since you can raise the incline or by increasing the speed, but it appears to bother my knees and feet more.

    With the bike and elliptical you have to motivate yourself to pedal harder or increase the resistance, or else you end up just cruising along if you can’t push yourself. These machines will just slow down to accommodate your effort. And with human nature being what it is…. we tend to seek the path of least resistance.

    So, it’s the StairMaster for me.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      The only StairMasters I’ve seen are those behemoths at the gym. I wouldn’t have a place to put one. I’ll have to see what a home model looks like.

      Reply
  22. Jeanne

    I don’t have to make weight loss goals because now I just resolve to eat healthily and decliciously, and that’s much easier.

    Reply
  23. Julie D

    Fortunately for myself, I’ve actually never been a resolution person. I’m sure I’ve made a couple “I’m gonna lose all this weight!” pledges, and then promptly started eating all the cookies in sight.

    My best resolution I made (at least I think it’s a good one) is the one I made this year. It’s to start treating myself with respect and eating foods that make me feel good again. I’ve fallen off the wagon hard because of some serious life issues, but it’s about time I started caring for myself again. Like you, I also pledged to get more winter exercise. It’s hard to get outside and do anything when it’s -5 degrees, the ground has 4 feet of snow, and the side walks are a glare of ice (that is, if they were even shoveled). I already have an exercise bike though; I just need to start using it!

    Reply
  24. Linda

    Happy New Year to you and your family Tom, and also to all you fat heads out there that I’ve enjoyed so much the last year!

    Let’s see…my worst resolution was back when I fervently believed in the “calories in/calories out garbage.” So one year, being at a horribly high 200 plus pounds I decided to eat only 850 calories per day till I lost down to my goal weight of 140 pounds. I was so obsessed that I would cut a cookie in half and mark down the number of calories in a half of cookie! Can you imagine how satisfying a one ounce burger is??

    Well… that lasted just about long enough for me to figure out that not only was I starving to death and becoming the meanest woman on earth, but I only lost about four pounds in three weeks! And of course I blamed myself for being a total failure in life. Thank God for you and the likes of Jimmy Moore and a few others that straightened me out!

    This year’s resolution is to keep doing what I’ve been doing (LCHF) and stay away from vegetarian evangelists as much as humanly possible!

    Reply
    1. Galina L.

      I think giving something a 100% effort is a good New Year resolution because it is the way to conduct a personal N=1. Now you know exactly how useful a very low-calories diet is at least in your case. You would never starve yourself again. I remember trying a low-inflammatory diet recommended by Dr.A.Weils as a N.Y. resolution. It sounded so reasonable – more fruits and vegetables, no refined carbohydrates, very limited saturated fat and almost zero red meat. There were a lot of positive testimonials given by Dr.A. Weils patients. He visited a lot of places where people lived long and healy lives, and based his advice on their life-stile. However, the people who benefited from the diet and testified about their positive experience, ate a standard American diet before, while I already followed similar principals, but never awoided a red meat before . When I added vegetables and fruits to an already high amount and limited meat, my hunger increased, I became more succeseptable to infections, my weight increased and general health became noticeably worse. It caused me to give a high-fat diet a 100% effort try at the November 2007 of the year I started a Low-inflammatory diet on the January first. So it was a good resolution.

      Reply
  25. Julie D

    Fortunately for myself, I’ve actually never been a resolution person. I’m sure I’ve made a couple “I’m gonna lose all this weight!” pledges, and then promptly started eating all the cookies in sight.

    My best resolution I made (at least I think it’s a good one) is the one I made this year. It’s to start treating myself with respect and eating foods that make me feel good again. I’ve fallen off the wagon hard because of some serious life issues, but it’s about time I started caring for myself again. Like you, I also pledged to get more winter exercise. It’s hard to get outside and do anything when it’s -5 degrees, the ground has 4 feet of snow, and the side walks are a glare of ice (that is, if they were even shoveled). I already have an exercise bike though; I just need to start using it!

    Reply
  26. j

    Resolution: not to take the “new” federal dietary guidelines too seriously.
    (I was gonna say to take them with a grain of salt, but the guide says to limit sodium)

    http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/

    Some good..eat vegetables, whole fruits, proteins (meats, seafood, etc), limit trans-fat..

    Some bad..eat whole grains, certain not so good plant-based oils, soy products, low/no fat dairy..other stuff..

    A couple conflicting(?) ideas:

    “Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars.”
    Ok..what’s the end goal here? Isnt it a better idea to lower sugar impact (if thats the goal) by also limiting fruit juice, caloric beverages, high sugar fruits, grains and high starch?

    “Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from saturated fats”
    To me this basically reads eat a low-fat diet. So if I drink fat free milk, doesnt that automatically make my overall calories from sugar go up? Guess it depends on what my protein intake is..

    “Consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day of sodium”
    Not even gonna bother..

    Theres more conflicting nonsense as you read along..enjoy

    Basically this guide boils down to pretty much the same ol’ low-fat and low calorie philosophy..

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      Some slight changes. They no longer mention a limit on total fat or cholesterol. They’re going to back away from the previous crappy advice one baby step at a time. So give it 40 years or so before the advice is actually good.

      Reply
  27. j

    Resolution: not to take the “new” federal dietary guidelines too seriously.
    (I was gonna say to take them with a grain of salt, but the guide says to limit sodium)

    http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/

    Some good..eat vegetables, whole fruits, proteins (meats, seafood, etc), limit trans-fat..

    Some bad..eat whole grains, certain not so good plant-based oils, soy products, low/no fat dairy..other stuff..

    A couple conflicting(?) ideas:

    “Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars.”
    Ok..what’s the end goal here? Isnt it a better idea to lower sugar impact (if thats the goal) by also limiting fruit juice, caloric beverages, high sugar fruits, grains and high starch?

    “Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from saturated fats”
    To me this basically reads eat a low-fat diet. So if I drink fat free milk, doesnt that automatically make my overall calories from sugar go up? Guess it depends on what my protein intake is..

    “Consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day of sodium”
    Not even gonna bother..

    Theres more conflicting nonsense as you read along..enjoy

    Basically this guide boils down to pretty much the same ol’ low-fat and low calorie philosophy..

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Some slight changes. They no longer mention a limit on total fat or cholesterol. They’re going to back away from the previous crappy advice one baby step at a time. So give it 40 years or so before the advice is actually good.

      Reply
  28. Maria J

    Hi Tom, good post and good to know I am not the only one who has shirked her exercising resolutions during the winter months. A friend purchased a Bowflex Max M5 for Christmas after much research. It has a smaller footprint, is similar to a stepper/elliptical and boasts a 14 minute workout. I have been on it and like it a lot. It works lower and upper body and is very well made also pretty expensive. My most recent purchase was a rebounder by Bellicon, fun but I don’t use it enough. Sometimes I long for those Southern California years when exercise could be enjoyed every day. Happy New Year to you and yours.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      Being able to walk my six-mile route most nights of the year is pretty much all I miss about Southern California.

      Reply
        1. Tom Naughton

          No shortage of burritos around here. Our usual Saturday night indulgence is a trip to a nearby Mexican restaurant. That’s my carb-nite meal.

          Reply
    2. Sky King

      I checked into adding a Bowflex Max M5 to my “collection”, but the reviews I read were pretty bad, such as failing after a few months of use and being so loud (from the fan) as to drown out any audio coming from a TV or other source.

      Here’s what users have to say about it on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Bowflex-Max-Trainer-M5/dp/B00PI3KWIY/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top?ie=UTF8

      If I were to look for something else besides my StairMaster to use for the sake of variety and to not get too adapted, I may look into getting a Versa Climber, which is Mark Sisson’s personal favorite: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-greatest-piece-of-exercise-equipment-ever-invented/#axzz3wkxGUWC8

      Reply
  29. Maria J

    Hi Tom, good post and good to know I am not the only one who has shirked her exercising resolutions during the winter months. A friend purchased a Bowflex Max M5 for Christmas after much research. It has a smaller footprint, is similar to a stepper/elliptical and boasts a 14 minute workout. I have been on it and like it a lot. It works lower and upper body and is very well made also pretty expensive. My most recent purchase was a rebounder by Bellicon, fun but I don’t use it enough. Sometimes I long for those Southern California years when exercise could be enjoyed every day. Happy New Year to you and yours.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Being able to walk my six-mile route most nights of the year is pretty much all I miss about Southern California.

      Reply
        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          No shortage of burritos around here. Our usual Saturday night indulgence is a trip to a nearby Mexican restaurant. That’s my carb-nite meal.

          Reply
    2. Sky King

      I checked into adding a Bowflex Max M5 to my “collection”, but the reviews I read were pretty bad, such as failing after a few months of use and being so loud (from the fan) as to drown out any audio coming from a TV or other source.

      Here’s what users have to say about it on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Bowflex-Max-Trainer-M5/dp/B00PI3KWIY/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top?ie=UTF8

      If I were to look for something else besides my StairMaster to use for the sake of variety and to not get too adapted, I may look into getting a Versa Climber, which is Mark Sisson’s personal favorite: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-greatest-piece-of-exercise-equipment-ever-invented/#axzz3wkxGUWC8

      Reply

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