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14 Life Hacks to Help You Conquer the New Year

by Aric Mitchell

For those interested in actually living life, it is always best to make it a dynamic, ever-changing set of circumstances and challenges that bring out one's full potential. Around New Year's Day, we all start dreaming about the ways we're going to make improvements in the coming year, because-let's face it-there's always something that isn't perfect about the way we live and the things we do to our bodies.

With synergy between body and mind necessary for the success of each, it's important that you attack this new set of 365 with renewed energy, determination, and some of the life hacks we mention here, starting with:

1. Lose Weight with Peanut Butter

Lose Weight with Peanut Butter
Photo by Rusvaplauke

Okay, it doesn't necessarily have to be peanut butter, but we picked it because it's a filling and high-protein food. Sure, it can be high in calories, but when you spread it across two pieces of whole wheat and consume with a glass of 2% before bed, you will likely wake up without any inclination toward breakfast. Two lower calorie meals for lunch and dinner to go along with the 400-450 calories you've already consumed as a bedtime snack will soon have you taking in less overall and feeling more energetic. It'll also help you avoid morning fatigue and attack the day with a sustained supply of energy for work and exercise.

(Of course, you may want to adjust the size of your bedtime snack for gender, age, and body size. All these play a role in calorie intake for body maintenance. If you're uncertain of how many calories you need per day, Google up a calorie calculator online.)

2. Break Up Your Workout Routines

Break Up Your Workout Routines
Photo by Vook Tv

So many times in a day we think about exercising and then find some reason to avoid it. Usually we go with lack of time. If that sounds like you, then consider shooting for four 15-minute workouts stretched throughout the day. If you can't start with four increments, that's okay, too. Choose one area of your body such as abs, chest, arms, or legs, and devote the entire 15-minute block to it. One word of warning: when we say 15 minutes, we mean 15 minutes. No getting up to go to the bathroom or fix a protein shake. Do some sit-ups, move into side-crunches, throw in some leg lifts-the important thing is that you keep moving and keep focused with no more than a few seconds between sets.

3. Stop Hiccups in Their Place

Stop Hiccups in Their Place
Photo by Sonya Green

Nothing is more embarrassing or aggravating than being out on a date and halfway through the story about how you saved a bunch of pre-school children from a burning building, you start hiccupping uncontrollably like a drunken cartoon character. Luckily, we've found there are a variety of home remedies, which can quickly and safely take care of the problem. The next time you're afflicted try holding your breath and counting quickly to 60 inside your head. Another hack that works well is taking several sips of water in rapid succession, downing a shot of lemon juice, or squawking loudly like a chicken. We don't recommend the last one if you're still on that date, though.

4. Breathe In, Breathe Out...

Breathe In, Breathe Out...
Photo by Mark Forman

Sure, we'd all like to be running more for exercise, but those annoying side stitches that set in like an angry little person turned loose inside the liver with a set of throwing stars and brass knuckles are making it hard to work through the pain. You must be one out of shape slob-ola to feel that after only a mile! In reality, this can be remedied with improved breathing tactics. Just make sure you're exhaling when your left foot lands forward in stride as this takes pressure off the liver. See, you're not necessarily in bad shape after all.

5. Express Yourself

Express Yourself
Photo by Judson Dunn

What would a list of life hacks be without some form of interpersonal communication remedy? After all, our standing in anything from business to dating can be affected by improper communication. Even though you may be the type to ring up your date after one evening and tell him how you want to be the mother of his babies, it's probably best to save those thoughts for a slip of paper that no one will ever see. Boss got you down at work? Maybe you should call him an overbearing, repugnant, greedy, self-centered, egotistical, son of a bee when you're alone at your apartment rather than standing within earshot. Expressing these emotions are good, no matter how inappropriate they are, because they get out of your system and into the air where they no longer have control over you. Just make sure there is no one around in the immediate vicinity of that air before you release.

6. Sleep Your Way to Success

Sleep Your Way to Success
Photo by Rene van Belzen

No, we're not saying that you need more sleep in order be successful. Rather, we're saying that you should start making sleep work for you. Most experts agree that reading something before bed is the best way to internalize information into long-term memory. So if there are any training manuals at work or job promotions in the future, you may want to ease into slumber with a few pages of related material before lights-out. When the body is asleep the mind has time to synthesize information and even work out problems in the dream state. Whether working for one's self or someone else, start making the most of business-related activities just before you say good-night.

7. Melt the Brain Freeze

Melt the Brain Freeze
Photo by Flipsy

Brain freeze is the act of hogging down your peanut butter hot fudge sundae too fast, and yes, we believe that's the official Oxford English citation. Everyone loves ice cream, but nobody loves ice cream headache, as it is also known. If you don't want to become a victim of Ben & Jerry's Disease, make sure that you direct as much of the cold away from the roof of your mouth as possible. For starters, it's probably a good idea not to eat or drink super-cold stuff with the eagerness of a starving cannibal. But if you just have to break speed records with how quickly you can take out a waffle cone, then make sure that you press your tongue firmly to the roof of your mouth covering as much of the surface area as possible. This creates a vacuum effect and thrusts the remaining cold safely below the tongue and away from the brain.

8. Add Some Taco Bell in Your Diet

Add Some Taco Bell in Your Diet
Photo by bean MOST

Many dietitians will advise staying away from fast food menus, but most of those guys were born prior to that Super-Size Me movie where the guy goes on an all-McDonald's diet for a month and damn near kills himself. Since then, there has been a more concerted effort from the big boys like Mickey D's, Taco Bell, and Subway to present alternatives to their suicide offerings. Taco Bell has the Fresco diet. Subway has a number of sandwiches that are low in fat and calories. Mickey D's brought out some salads and a pretty tasty chicken wrap thingy. Most fast food menus have incorporated easy-to-find nutritional info for all selections available. It's easier than ever to eat healthier, and if you take advantage of the health-specific menu options, then there is an opportunity to lose weight all without changing your on-the-go lunch destination.

9. Throw Some Hindu in Your Push-Ups

Throw Some Hindu in Your Push-Ups
Photo by MyGymworkout.co.uk

Pain may not be pleasure, but it's a good goal if you want to get ripped in the New Year. And by ripped, we mean the good way where you've got something to show off at the beach during the summer and not the bad way where you end up crawling around in a drunken stupor and picking fights with a team of bouncers at your favorite tavern. The Hindu push-up looks simple, but it will jack you up in a hurry, because it combines the strength training of the traditional push-up with the yawning muscle stretch of Yoga. Here's what you do: spread your legs a comfortable distance apart; lean forward on your palms; roll hips forward like you're making love in slow motion; and then reverse backward into your original position. Maintain muscle control through the entire motion, and then curse yourself in the morning when it feels like someone doused your body in gasoline and set it on fire.

10. Avoid the Snooze Button Blues

Avoid the Snooze Button Blues
Photo by Chrissy Wainwright

The Snooze Button Blues are when you wake up in the morning with the best of intentions only to hit your snooze button 40 times and miss work. While there is another way to avoid the third degree from your boss-as if he's never been late for work-we prefer this step because it helps you burn a few calories and, more importantly, gets your mind active efficiently. When that alarm goes off the first time, hit snooze-as a safety net-but immediately begin small muscle or joint movements to get yourself awake and functional. Pick out a leg and commence small kicks, which require minimal effort. Tap your fingers against the mattress repeatedly. It doesn't take much to get started. The important thing is that your brain is active and your body is responding. You'll find that in the next 9 minutes it'll be easier to deal with the snooze button and the day ahead.

11. Move the Alarm, Hide the Pistol

Move the Alarm, Hide the Pistol
Photo by Chelsea Oakes

Remember that "other way" to avoid the Snooze Button Blues that we mentioned? Well, this is it. If you are a firearm enthusiast, make sure there isn't one nearby. Then, relocate your alarm clock to the opposite side of the room. When it starts screaming for you to get up in the morning, you'll have to shock your body to life, get out of bed, and make the cross-room trek in order to shut it the hell up. While some people work better this way, we find that No. 10 is a more pleasant approach. But to each his own!

12. 30 Rock Your Body

30 Rock Your Body
Photo by Ed Yourdon

Okay, let's just go ahead and say it. TV can actually be good for you. With all the advancements we have in technology, it's easier to take your favorite shows with you wherever you go. And since so much of one's success with physical exercise is mental, any trick that you can come up with to take your mind off the pain is a good thing. That's why we prefer throwing in some 30 Rock or Seinfeld or Parks and Recreation when hitting the treadmill. With the Netflix App on your iPhone, you don't even need to buy the expensive piece of equipment that comes with a TV on board. Simply keep your phone where you can see it and choose something that will preoccupy you long enough to get in your 3 miles of cardio per day.

13. Increase Productivity with a Trip to Facebook

Increase Productivity with a Trip to Facebook
Photo by Marshillonline

Facebook, of course, is just an example. It could be any site that you find intriguing, humorous, informative, or entertaining. Your boss asks you to do a lot of stuff throughout the day, but the hard fact is you're not working the whole time during a 12-, 10-, or even 8-hour shift, especially in the office environment. If you factor in the time you spend interacting with co-workers about the weekend, getting coffee, anticipating work, and avoiding it, we're thinking that even a highly productive employee logs only 60% of actual work throughout a shift. (That's why so many more people are telecommuting these days. They actually get more accomplished.) In order to keep your mind fresh, active, and responsive to situations that arise throughout a work day, it's best to spend more time surfing the 'Net and less time daydreaming about what it would be like to go postal on your employer.

14. That's Why God Invented IHOP

That's Why God Invented IHOP
Photo by Neill Clenaghan

All right, so maybe this one would have been more useful on New Year's Eve, but keep it in mind the next time you're out for a night of drunken debauchery. Bacon and other breakfast foods can help sharpen the mind, sober the body, and actually dull or prevent the effects of a hangover. Why do you think IHOP, Waffle House, and other all-night breakfast joints have so many drunks after midnight? It's not the pancakes!

Life hacks such as these can help you make the New Year a great one both personally and professionally, but we're sure there are more out there. What did we leave out? Share some of your favorites with us below!

drunken debauchery. Bacon and other breakfast foods can help sharpen the mind, sober the body, and actually dull or prevent the effects of a hangover. Why do you think IHOP, Waffle House, and other all-night breakfast joints have so many drunks after midnight? It's not the pancakes!

Life hacks such as these can help you make the New Year a great one both personally and professionally, but we're sure there are more out there. What did we leave out? Share some of your favorites with us below!

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{ 5 comment… read it below or add one }

Michael January 5th, 2011
I am pretty sure you meant to add an "e" in the very last word of #14 "one" instead of "on". Great ideas, especially "chunking" your exercise into small segments. Works great to enhance creativity while you are writing.
Aric Mitchell January 6th, 2011
Thanks Michael. We actually chopped a few words off the end there by accident, fixed now.
Vladislav January 6th, 2011
Peanut butter is super! I live in Russia and the hazel grows close to home! Every day I eat hazelnuts passed through a grinder!
Phil January 7th, 2011
Although I agree there's quite a bit of good advice in this post, I respectfully disagree with a few points: #1: EATING breakfast (as opposed to skipping it) is actually generally recommended by most diet experts. Why not have that peanut butter and 2% milk for breakfast intead? #2: Splitting your exercise into pieces helps in some ways, but also reduces the cardio (and therefore calorie-burning and heart-health) aspect of a comparable amount of time (30 min jog is better than 2x 15 minute jogs). For weight-training, however, there might be some truth to this, but it's still debated regularly in most weight-training magazines and forums. #2b: To best capiltalize on the gains from both #1 and #2, work out in the morning, before eating that peanut butter and drinking that 2% milk. Several studies have shown that working out in the morning (yes, as hard as it is, for almost all of us) gives you the most bang-for-your-work-out-time-buck. #6: I strongly recommend AGAINST this advice, as someone who has spent hours upon hours reading about sleep, and who has been a participant in several university and government sleep depreviation studies. While its true that a) reading before bed is helpful for better sleep, and b) sleep aids in the development of long-term memory, no research that I've ever seen says that the material read right before bed is, necessarily, the material that is best internalized to long-term memory! The research indicates that better long-term memory, in general, is correlated with more sleep, NOT that you remember your bed-time reading material better! Also, reading stress-inducing material (for those individuals who consider work stressful) before bed is actually counterproductive. Sleep experts recommend LIGHT reading before bed. #7: People have different abilities to multi-task. This has been studied over and over. SOME people will benefit from more frequent visits to Facebook, but others will actually be worse off, due to the time it takes to "recalibrate" between tasks. Best to know which type of person you are before surfing the 'Net to "increase" your productivity. Again, I'm just pointing out the items which seemed... well, very curious. Still plenty of good ideas here.
Chris Parsons January 14th, 2011
Peanut butter on bread with milk for a "bedtime snack" and then skipping breakfast? Taco Bell is healthy? TV is good for you? Where do you come up with this... Milk makes you put on weight - not lose it. And carbs will only increase your appetite - not supress it. Not what you want right before bed. Taco Bell's Fresco menu, as well as any other fast food's attempt at healthy food - is a sham. The reported low calories and fat content are fictional, as many have tested the actual food to their claims and proved it inaccurate. TV is not good for you - not even educational TV. That doesn't mean I don't watch it, of course.

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