Summer Body Who? Advice on how to get and stay fit

By: Naomi Metoyer
OwlFeed Journalist

There are exactly two times during the year when people go to the gym: the week after New Years and two days before summer begins.

And what’s the fault in that? We’re all busy with our own lives and routines, so busy that sometimes it is not a priority to hit the gym or eat a healthier or drink some water.

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But with summer approaching, desperate last ditch efforts are sure to be made in  attempting the ideal “summer body.” Although I encourage using these techniques year round, here are some sure ways to lose fat and tone muscle quickly and, above all, healthily. 

Exercise

Yes, I am urging you to exercise. And no, you will not die. Sure, you might end up work up a sweat and sure, you might be a little annoyed sometimes—maybe even with me. But the end result is most definitely worth the cost.

I personally have tried several things, from MMA classes to recreational sports, from jogging around my neighborhood to squat challenges to using my brother’s old weights on the back porch. And while for anyone else those may prove viable and efficient options, they did not fit my needs for one very simple reason: a lack of follow through.

Exercise—to get in shape or to stay in shape—is all about routine. Keeping a steady and reasonable timetable for working out is vital to achieving that oh-so-loved summer body.

Although many people attempt to work out efficiently, exercise and weight loss do not mean the same thing to everybody. However, there is some truth to the ideas of “slow and steady wins the race.” At least to start, you should keep things light and personal.

Time reports that in 2016, American and European scientists linked moderate exercise to greater improvements in cardiovascular health and decreases in mortality risks, whereas vigorous exercise is not proven to have such a correlation.

That said, there are obvious merits to working yourself hard and fast, but for the purposes of ease and efficiency, I suggest a moderate routine that you can and will be able to follow through with on a regular basis.

If you are working on that stubborn belly fat you racked on this year between eating out or lazing out, then focus on it. If you want the toned legs of a Greek god, climb some stairs, do some squats, run on the treadmill.

It’s about priority in every aspect of the process, from prioritizing your time to prioritizing your workouts. Some quick tips for the journey:

  • I love Planet Fitness. It’s a stress free, welcoming place with a variety of machines that focus on specific areas. It has cheap membership that can even include bringing along a friend!
  • There are a variety of types of exercise beyond the gym. Some include:
    • Recreational sports
    • Skating
    • Yoga
    • MMA/self-defense classes
    • Swimming
    • Dancing
    • Biking
    • Squat (running, push-up, etc) challenges
    • Burst workouts
    • Several 10-minute workouts throughout the day

Diet

For some people, physical activity is the easy part and it’s the food aspect that trips them up. Now what good is running on the treadmill for two hours if every time afterwards you down three Mt. Dew’s, a family size bag of Hot Cheetos, and a full sized New York cheesecake? Remember, it’s about priorities.

You don’t have to break the bank buying all organic foods and elaborate salads that will inevitably make you hungry again too soon. There are several avenues you can take when it comes to diet– and it’s easier than you think.

Diets: More than just fads

Several diets are out there that are working for all kinds of people with all kinds of goals, tastes, and schedules. Here is a brief description of a few:

The Ketogenic (Keto) Diet/Atkins Diet:

This diet is a LCHF (low carb, high fat) focused meal plan. It involves cutting out carbs– breads, most fruits, potatoes, rice, and other sugars– in order to maximize fat burn. The science is all very interesting, but that’s for another time.

For the past few months, I have eaten keto on and off. When really committed to this diet, it works wonders. Though, like with many, being lazy with it may have inverse results. I lost around 20 pounds in two months– and it was holiday season! My father lost 40 in the same time span, and my aunt lost nearly half her body weight in a year of following through with the diet.

Gretchen from Fit Mom Journey lost over 20 inches and 23 pounds in 75 days of doing Keto, her husband also dropping 40 pounds and 25 inches in just 40 days. Stories such as these are all over, reporting huge losses of weight and fat, increased energy levels, and even clearer skin!

Apps like Keto Diet Tracker for your phone can help in the process, as well as countless of recipes swarming around the internet that don’t require anything super special to make.

The Paleo Diet:

This meal plan is meant to emulate the eating habits of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Now, saying it like that sounds extreme, though in reality, it is just cutting out processed foods and eating things as they might be found in nature.

In a study on the effects of a short-term intervention with a paleolithic diet, the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found in 2008 that participants “lost weight and had a mild reduction in waist circumference and systolic blood pressure.” This, paired with other health benefits, makes the Paleo diet appealing on many bases.

Vegan/Vegetarian:

These two diets are probably the most popular. The gist of these two is cutting out animal products such as meat, dairy, and more. Vegetarianism is strictly not eating meat.

These two diets are more appealing than the other two in that sugar lovers don’t have to cut out their favorite foods, and instead go slow.

Calorie Counting and/or Portioning

And, of course, for those of us who can’t commit to a specific or meticulous diet plan, portioning or calorie counting can serve as a realistic option.

This option does not mean starving yourself by any means. Calorie counting can easily be done through apps such as MyFitnessPal, which do all of the work after you fill in a few set up details. You just add the food, drink, and exercise you’ve had in your day, and it will tell you immediately how much you have eaten and what your goal should be, as well as your progress so far.

Portioning, on the other hand, is basically using the “eat when you’re hungry” guideline when eating. This simple technique can ensure you don’t eat when bored or whenever when you are not actually in need of food.

Water

Now, this is a big thing. Water is needed for more than preventing dehydration, and if you want to follow through with healthy eating and exercise, you will need lots of it.

Water helps you metabolize, gives you energy, and makes you healthier overall. Along with clearing skin, water is significant in weight loss. For everyone it is different—based on your own weight and age—but it is the same in that it helps digestion and thus, increasing weight loss.

I’m sure you’ve heard these ideas a hundred times over, but I hope you will take them into consideration this spring and beyond, not only during summer but for all future seasons. I know soon I will have to as well.

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