Summer Shape-Up: Do It Right And You'll Already Be In Shape Next Summer

Summer's here, but the goal is to not have to go through a crash course every year. Instead, make fitness a permanent life change.

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:

Kick the "Quick Fix" Mentality ///

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!

Short-Term Goals Help You Stay Motivated ///

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.

Consistency, Consistency, Consistency ///

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?