17 secrets to stick to your exercise routine and maximize results

1. Make natural food choices - go to the pantry and give anything in a box, can or frozen from a processed source. The more natural the food you eat - in its rawest state, the more energy you will get from it. Avoid anything that has an envelope or if your tongue has to work out to pronounce the ingredients. Shop for food often to keep fresh organic food readily available. Shop only outside the grocery shop. The more money you spend to market a food, the worse you get. If the food existed more than 100 years ago, it is probably good for you and not genetically modified, enriched or altered from its natural state.

2. Rely on the thermal effect of food - Ten to 35% of our metabolism can come from the thermal effect of food - which is the energy needed to process the food we eat. If you eat 5 to 6 small meals a day, you will never feel like you are on a diet, your energy will be stable, you will never go into a hyperglycemic state and your body will become a fat burning machine that is ready for exercise at any time. Each meal should be a mini version of what you are probably used to if you are currently eating 3 meals a day. Each meal should contain one lean protein, one starchy carbohydrate and one fibrous carbohydrate.

3. Change your condition - Once you have decided on something, become relentless about it and the process of getting the result is much more transparent. When you decide you want to feel and look better and gain the knowledge to do so, making the right decisions about diet and exercise becomes effortless. Link your health to other accomplishments you have made in your life. Deciding means cutting out all other possibilities. Make your health a must in your schedule and in all your decisions.

4. Apply the 90/10 rule - If 90% of the time you make healthy food choices in the right amounts and exercise regularly and intensely, enjoy the remaining 10% of the time without an ounce of guilt. You can plan your 10% in advance if you know you are going to have a party on the weekend or if you are travelling and have to miss a workout. But in the event that you are overwhelmed by the dessert menu, treat yourself without any remorse and know by the next meal that you will be back on track.

5. Warm up before a workout - Warming up increases blood flow to the muscles by about 55%, giving you better muscle contraction. You will sweat sooner, which helps regulate your body temperature. It also triggers the neuromuscular connection that initiates the release of carbohydrates, enzymes and lipid hormones while reducing your perceived exertion during strength training. Only 5 minutes of walking or cycling will satisfy this requirement.

6. Vary your cardio exercise - Alternate between two or more cardiovascular activities such as walking and cycling or kickboxing and aerobic step. This will help you to optimally develop your cardiovascular fitness, maintain the element of fun in exercise, avoid overtraining and injury. In the end, you will burn more calories.

7. Incorporate multiple cardio techniques - Use a combination of continuous, interval, circuit and Fartlek (speed play) training. Changing techniques forces your body to adapt and become more efficient. Vary the intensity and change impact styles. For example, if you've been going the same way at the same pace every day, start incorporating intermittent bursts of acceleration. The underlying principle is that change is what allows the body to progress, make improvements and burn fat.

8. Plan your workouts in phases - Organise your workouts in a cyclical structure. For example, for two to three weeks, exercise at a lower intensity for 45 to 60 minutes, then for the next two to three weeks, exercise for 20 to 30 minutes at your highest intensity. For the next 2 to 3 weeks, exercise at a moderate intensity for 30 to 45 minutes. This system allows you to maintain a high level of fitness and not overtrain. This cycle of training patterns will help your body become more efficient at burning fat.

9. Train Circuit - Perform several strengthening exercises interspersed with short cardio segments. For example, do a leg press, side pull down and abdominal squeeze followed by 3 minutes of cycling. Then repeat 3 more strength exercises followed by 3 minutes of walking. Circuit training has a lower drop-out rate, is an effective calorie burner, increases muscle strength and decreases body fat.

10. Strength training with multi-articular exercises - Choose exercises that work compound muscle groups - that is, more than one muscle group at a time. This will give you the most mileage per exercise. Examples include squats, lunges and push-ups. For every kilo of muscle in your body, you need 35-50 calories a day to maintain it, while every kilo of fat on your body only needs 2 calories a day.

11. Exercise first thing in the morning - Morning users are more likely to show up. Later in the day, the chances of you skipping your workout increase as interruptions occur and fatigue sets in. Morning exercise also helps to regulate your hormonal response, asking your body to release fat and boost your metabolism.

12. Eat a "basic" meal before training - Having a small, balanced meal before exercise will help you burn fat. After you eat, your blood sugar rises and exercise acts like insulin to help regulate blood sugar. Eating will also give you the energy you need for a more intense workout - so you will burn more calories.

13. Workout with intensity - To get the full benefits of exercise, you need to move from "pink weights" and moderate walking. Don't be afraid to increase your resistance and challenge your muscles and cardiovascular system. For a change, you need to push your physical limits beyond what you are used to.

14. Stay hydrated. In order for fat to be metabolized, it must first be released from the fat cell and then transported through the bloodstream where it is transported to the liver and other active tissues for use as fuel. If you are in a dehydrated state, the liver has to help the kidneys and cannot concentrate on its role of releasing fat. A general rule of thumb is to take your body weight and multiply it by 0.55 to estimate how many ounces of water you should consume daily.

15. Exercise using acceleration and recovery bursts. Research shows that heart rate variability is the strongest predictor of health. To train at the highest heart rate ranges, perform gusts of activity throughout the day. For example, you can sprint to the mailbox, run on the spot for 60 seconds while your food heats up, or jump up and down 3 flights of stairs. Acceleration bursts can last up to 60 seconds and can be repeated 5 to 7 times a day every other day. Your metabolism will remain high after the burst and will remain high for up to an hour or more depending on the intensity of the burst. Overall, performing short bursts throughout the day contributes to calories burned, fat loss, improved health and mental clarity.

16. Journaling - writing down your goals, having a mission, recording physical activity and recording food consumed are proven ways to get results. Those who commit to goals and a paper plan have a higher success rate. You can use a specially developed diary to guide you through the fat loss process such as the one available in the Feminine, Firm & Fit programme (KelliCalabrese.com) or use a new blank document or notebook to record your feelings, successes, obstacles and achievements.

17. Exercise with a buddy - your chances of sticking to your exercise program are higher when you engage a significant other. Being accountable to a partner is more motivating than exercising alone. Choose a partner who is important to you, who shares your goals and who is similar (or slightly better) in physical ability. 

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