Get Ready for Summer the right way
By Gretta Monahan
I know people who, every early to mid-spring, start to panic about getting a beach body through severe diet and exercise — and then go right back to their old habits afterward.
Not me. And I’m asking you not do that to yourself, either. Instead, let’s use the upcoming summer as an inspiration to changing our overall habits in a more realistic way. Bear in mind: I’m not a fitness or nutrition expert, so definitely consult one of the many books, websites and other resources out there. But I have taken the advice of many experts and seen what works.
Nutrition: Noting that it takes a deficit of 3,500 calories to lose one pound, and looking to lose no more than a pound a week until July (which would be 10 pounds total, anything more is too extreme), that means cutting out around 500 calories per day. That’s a lot, so the most reasonable way to do it is to burn about 250 calories through exercise and to eat 250 calories less than you normally would. That’s not as tough as it sounds. Doing simple things like switching to light yogurts, switch to ketchup or mustard instead of mayo, and opting for light salad dressings instead of creamy Caesar. Use some of the great apps out there such as myfitnesspal and see it all add up faster than you think.
Cardio: These days it’s incredibly easy to get a solid estimation of how many calories you’ve burned — not just in that 30-minute session on the treadmill or bike, but outside the gym, too, thanks to Apple Watches, Fitbits and the like. Even just a brisk walk for 30 minutes burns about 100 calories (bear in mind, everyone’s metabolism is different, so just like those machines at the gym, that’s an estimation) — so doing things like taking the stairs adds up over the course of each day. Throw in time to do activities you enjoy — tennis, swimming, biking, kayaking or golfing — and you’ll see yourself hit that 250 calorie per day mark.
Weight training: This is not only the ultimate body toner, it’s also like a turbo boost to weight loss, because muscles burn more calories just moving around during the day than fat does. If you’re just getting started on a program, start out with lighter weights and build from there, and never push yourself to the point of pain. If you’re not a big lover of gym environments, there’s plenty you can do at home: Check out some of the arm exercises you can do with 5-pound weights, crunches on a mat or just a rug, pushups (there’s no shame in starting off with the on-the-knees version) and squats. For great weight training ideas in and out of the gym, I swear by shape.com.
Stretching: So many people forget about this, but it’s crucial. It helps prevent injury when working out (and even when you’re not), feels terrific and keeps you limber. There are plenty of easy but essential stretches you can do on your own, without a trainer — check out fitday.com to find some for beginners to advanced.
Water: This is by far the easiest requirement to a successful and healthy fitness and weight-loss regimen, and one of the most important. With good hydration, your body can flush out toxins, eliminate waste and replace fluids after those workouts. It’s also said to help you lose extra weight by making you feel full without adding calories. Bingo.