By request of one of my best friends Maddy, who runs the blog Bikinis&Bellinis (http://bikinisandbellinis.wordpress.com/) with her friend Jade, I’m making a post about getting in shape for summer. Clearly there’s a LOT that can go into this, so I’m going to go over a couple of basics about nutrition/dieting, working out and sleep!
The most important thing here is that you have to eat. Starving yourself is the least effective way to lose weight, especially in a short period of time. You should be eating between 1200-2000 NET calories a day depending on your weight. Net calories mean that if you go to the gym, you should eat the calories you burn back! Not only is it horrible for you to eat too little, but if you love food like I do, you won’t last longer than 5 hours without it, so follow these tips instead.
1) There are a ton of awesome foods that promote weight loss. To name a few: grapefruit, blueberries, eggs, spinach, broccoli and OF COURSE water. Seriously, so many people underestimate the power of drinking a shitton of water every day – it keeps you fuller and healthier while also increasing weight loss results.
2) Create your own detox juice. These can either be water based or fruit and veggie based, depending on the recipes you want to use. If you’re just winging it, some awesome fat burning ingredients include lemon, cayenne pepper, grape fruit, ginger and honey. Here are a couple of awesome recipes from The Cultureist: http://www.thecultureist.com/2013/06/24/10-healthy-juicing-recipes-for-detox-cleanse/.
3) Don’t just look at calories, look at fat and sugar, too! Not too long ago I made a post about 10 “healthy” foods that have more sugar than a Krispy Kreme donut. You might think you’re eating healthy, but it might actually be the diet foods that are making it difficult to lose weight. A lot of the time, reduced fat products have added sugar to make them taste better and even sugar-free diet drinks/foods have all sorts of nasty chemicals in them. Try to stay natural and focus on vegetables and lean protein. Natural sugar from fruits is fine, but not if that’s all you’re eating. Instead of having an apple for a snack, try celery and peanut butter or a hard boiled egg.
4) This is probably the hardest one, but ditch the carbs. If you want to get extreme about it, only eat lean protein and vegetables (Atkins style), but carbs are fine in moderation. Plenty of people don’t realize sugar is a carb (that’s why it’s under the total carbohydrate section of the nutrition label), which means carbo-loading doesn’t just come from bread, but also from sugary flavored yogurts and granola bars.
Everyone works out differently and we should because all of our bodies are different. I have an athletic body that bulks up easily, so I focus a lot on leaning my muscle with specific strength training moves and types of cardio. Others, however, need to bulk up a little in order to get a more toned look. Basically, figuring out the right workout plan for you might mean meeting with a trainer or doing some research and trying a couple different things out, but there are a few basics every gym rat should know.
1) Just doing cardio won’t give you results. Strength training is a key part of losing body fat. Muscle diminishes with age, so if you don’t do anything to replace it with lean muscle, it will just turn into fat. This doesn’t mean you have to head to the gym and start bench pressing 200 pounds. There are a ton of strength exercises that don’t require weights, like push ups, squats, crunches and other leg/ab moves.
2) Squats burn calories. More than most other weightless exercises. It’s a miracle, I know. Supposedly the way to calculate calories burned is multiplying your weight by 0.096 and then multiply that by the amount of minutes you squat for. Regardless of exact numbers, though, they’re great for you and will make you butt super toned for summer!
3) Change up your routine. If you keep doing the same exercises over and over, your body adapts and it requires fewer calories to do the exercise. This applies to both weights and cardio. You want to keep your body guessing so that your muscles will burn more calories.
4) Try high intensity interval training for a change. Steady state cardio doesn’t increase your “resting” metabolism and your body adjusts to it quickly. Instead, alternate short intense periods of exercise with longer less intense recovery periods. Here are a couple benefits/tips about HIIT from Shape: http://www.shape.com/fitness/workouts/8-benefits-high-intensity-interval-training-hiit
I can’t really list out a series of tips for this one because it pretty much all comes down to the same thing: get sleep. There are a couple of problems with not getting the rest you need. As I talked about in an earlier post, being sleepy actually releases a hormone that makes you hungrier. Even worse, it makes you hungry for fatty and sugary foods. Also, if you don’t get enough sleep your body won’t release as much human growth hormone, which is a serious fat burning agent. Finally, if you’re taking a ton of naps because you aren’t getting the rest you need it’ll throw off your schedule and leave you groggy/slow-moving. That, in turn, slows your metabolism.
So yes, summer is coming and it’s terrifying how soon it is, I know. But if you make a healthy, smart game plan and stick to it, you won’t be in bad shape come “pics on the beach” time. Obviously these are just some basics, but there’s a ton of more information out there that will help you achieve your goals, including low-cal cocktails (essential) and killer workout routines to check out. Power through, you won’t regret it!