Summer Shape-Up: Do It Right And You'll Already Be In Shape Next Summer
Yes, that's right! It's summer again! With the warmth and sunshine come fitness websites and magazines touting their official plans to help get your summer "beach body." Although these "get slimmer" programs are usually helpful and provide good information, they've also helped create the general opinion that getting into swimsuit shape only takes 30 days.
I've been in the fitness industry for a decade and I can tell you right now that for a normal, untrained person, building the ultimate body takes much longer than a month.
Instead of feeling that annual anxiety about the "countdown to summer" and the following crash diet and constant treadmill marathon, take a deep breath and make a life change. In the long run, you'll be healthier, fitter, and much less stressed. Here's how it's done:
So you want to drop pounds, add some lean muscle, or lose body fat? Then your efforts had better be balanced, realistic and consistent! You can definitely achieve the results you want, but it's not going to happen overnight. The first step to cooling your summertime swimsuit anxiety is to work on your fitness all year. By learning to eat healthy, balanced meals 80-90 percent of the time, you can still enjoy those summer cookouts, have a poolside margarita, and eat your favorite meals while retaining that swimsuit-ready bod.
The best way to maintain a fit body is to be smart about your nutrition. The quick-fix no-carb, juice-only, no-meat, 1,000-calorie diets are not the right way to go. By far the number one problem I see among perpetual dieters is jumping on the newest diet fad. Restricting yourself to that level is not healthy and can lead to the perpetual "Ugh, poor me; I'm on a diet!" cycle. When you convert to a healthy lifestyle, you won't have to view your nutrition negatively.
To build and maintain your best body, rely on lean protein, vegetables, and heart-healthy fats like avocado, natural peanut butter, and olive oil. Pass on the white bread, white pasta and overly processed foods. Opt for whole-grain carbohydrate options, legumes, quinoa, and sweet potatoes. A balanced nutrition plan that you can execute at least 80 percent of the time throughout the year will help you achieve that bikini body. Even better, those great results will last the entire year!
Let's face it: unless you're getting paid, the motivation to be swimsuit-ready at a moment's notice can sometimes lose its luster. It's especially difficult when the dessert tray rolls by or if you're stuck in your home during a snowstorm. In times like this, we wake from six-pack dreams in favor of sweet treats or hibernation.
Thankfully there's a simple solution: Pick a goal you can achieve within the next 30 days. Those goals don't have to be fat-loss based. Goals like, "I want to do 10 real push-ups by the end of the month," or "I want to add 25 pounds to my squat" are perfect. By setting goals that do not relate (directly) to your appearance, you can focus on performance. Trust me, those performance goals will be visible in the image in the mirror.
Each month, re-evaluate your short-term goals and set new ones for the following month. Heck, if breaking the short-term goals down to weekly or bi-weekly goals is something you want to try, do it! Keep a record of your goal, your benchmarks, and what it takes you to achieve them. Before you know it, you'll look great, feel great, and perform like an absolute beast.
Once you achieve your health and fitness goals for the summer, don't just brush off or cast aside all of the healthy habits you have acquired that helped to earn those results. The point of change is to make those results last for the long haul. It's tempting to ease up on the clean eats or spend fewer hours in the gym, but if you're not careful, you could end up right back where you started.
The point of your fitness is to find a plan that you can follow throughout the year. Don't restrict yourself too much or too long that you reward yourself with burgers and fries for an entire month. And then cycle back to being uber-restrictive. The same goes for your workouts. If you've been killing yourself in the gym 24/7, it might seem like a good idea to ease off the gas and take it easy for a while. If you go too light for too long, you'll be right back where you began and you'll have to start all over again.
I'm not saying that putting forth extra effort from time to time is bad. Just realize that when you take extreme measures with your approach to fitness, you have to maintain them to keep those results. For most of us, that gets old real quick.
Everything works best in moderation, right?
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Awesome to hear! Yes, making these changes and establishing consistency will definitely yield results. Set new goals before winter approaches so you'll already be right on track to achieving them during the cold winter months! :)
Thank you, Abby! And lol to you wanting to take a nap instead. Of course we know that a bit of extra effort is put in when it's specific to contest prep, but maintaining those levels of training year-round will definitely lead to exhaustion (hence you wanting to take a nap, haha). With these tips I've been able to find a much more balanced approach year-round. I just keep in mind that there is no 'off season' from being fit and healthy!
Thank you for checking out the article- and heck yes on your new outlook and approach! Keep these principles in mind, apply them, and BAM, you'll be back in action and in your best shape year-round!
if it is such a "consistency thing" over months and years, then why does it seem like it only takes a couple weeks to undo months of changes? That really stinks! I've been doing this for years now and I've lost like 50 lbs. I had surgery in jan, and I feel like im back to square 1.
I am a believer in muscle memory.. That's why when people get back in the swing of things they blow back up most times! Just stick to it and you'll be back to the way you want! You did it once already!
Yes, I know that a minor setback can be frustrating, but as soon as you are back in action your body will earn big time results. Set short and long term goals- again, those can be strength related, fat loss, or even just to get back in the habit of healthier eating. As long as you are consistent in your efforts to achieve the healthiest YOU, you will start to see those results! :)
Thank you very much for checking out the article, I'm thrilled that it was helpful (and thank you for the kind words about the pics, too!). And yes, just remember that healthy eating isn't a 'diet' but if you're going to be the healthiest and most fit YOU, that a balanced approach to eating year-round is much more beneficial than any short term restrictive diet plan could ever be. :)
Great article once again! Smaller goals are much more realistic and attainable. Went up by 25 pounds on my squat in a week. I was ecstatic. These small goals keep me focused and motivate me to look towards the bigger picture.
Thank you for checking it out! And WOOHOO, awesome job to the increase in your squat in just one week! I'd be ecstatic, too! Way to work it- keep setting those benchmark goals, and as you achieve those you'll be that much closer to the bigger picture!
I am that person starting over - BUT I am doing just what you describe here - my goals arent to lose 50 pounds in 30 days - rather my 30 day goals are - 1) Healthy eating - (although I made many changes for this one goal - all at once) added green vegetables, went down to one day a week of red meat, removed wheat and bad starches, loggin my meals etc. 2) add HIIT training to my cardio schedule so that I can completet 14, 30 second spurts 3) drink a gallon of water a day - first two weeks I lost 8lbs and a few inches overall and I feel great - full of energy!
Awesome job! Way to take charge and make those changes- sounds as though you're already on a roll, and love that you've already lost inches, lbs AND that you feel great and are full of energy! Keep it up- more results are on the way!