L ook in the mirror... what do you see? Not happy? You do realize that summer is around the corner, right? The time is now to get yourself ready for the beach and the nice warm summer weather. Show off all the hard work you put in at the gym by shedding off those extra pounds you added over the winter.
Below you will find some helpful tips to help you get ready for the summer.
1 / Cut The Crap!
Say goodbye to McDonalds and Burger King and say hello to homemade cooking. This should be a no-brainer but people still think that if they go to the gym they can eat whatever they want. WRONG!
If you seriously want to shape up for the summer, you need to kiss all fast food joints goodbye. Not only are these places loaded with calories but also the fat content in them is enough to stop your heart instantly.
If you haven't watched the movie Super-size Me, you need to go rent it today and watch it. If you don't get sick watching that movie and seeing for yourself that McDonalds French fries can last well over three months without sprouting any mold, then you honestly don't have all systems firing in your brain.
2 / Cook At Home
When eating out you never really know how your food is prepared. Therefore, your best bet is to prepare and cook your own food. When you eat out many of the foods you are ingesting are cooked in butter or other fattening ingredients, which is exactly the stuff you want to stay away from.
Do we even need to get into all the fried foods that are out there? You want to talk about a heart attack waiting to happen... fried foods throw up the red light. STAY AWAY! Your best bet for cooking at home can be anything from grilling your foods, steaming your foods, and even baking your foods.
Portion sizes are another issue with eating out. When you eat out and see the food on your plate, your natural instinct is to finish everything on it. Did you stop to think about how many calories you just took in eating that whole plate? Probably not.
This is a quick and easy fix by simply preparing all of your food at home. Not only will you know exactly how your food is prepared, but you can make sure everything is portioned out correctly.
The American Cancer Society created a great visual to ensure proper portion control by naming objects that correspond with correct portion sizes.
- 1 oz. meat: size of a matchbox
- 3 oz. meat: size of a deck of cards or bar of soap-the recommended portion for a meal
- 8 oz. meat: size of a thin paperback book
- 3 oz. fish: size of a checkbook
- 1 oz. cheese: size of 4 dice
- Medium potato: size of a computer mouse
- 2 Tbs. peanut butter: size of a ping pong ball
- 1 cup pasta: size of a tennis ball
- Average bagel: size of a hockey puck
- Medium apple or orange: the size of a tennis ball
- 1 cup chopped raw vegetables or fruit: baseball size
- 1/4 cup dried fruit (raisins, apricots, mango): a small handful
- lunch-box size container of unsweetened applesauce
- cup of lettuce: four leaves
- 1/2 cup cooked or canned legumes (beans and peas)
- 5-6 baby carrots
Also, when you are eating at home, make sure you aren't eating from a bag. The worst thing you can do is continually reach into a bag and keep eating and not know much you consumed. After no time at all you can throw down a couple hundred calories and not even know it. Always take products out of the bag and portion it so you can track how much of something you ate.
3 / Where's The Beef?
When looking to lose weight the best thing you can do (especially when weight training) is to increase your protein intake while cutting out some of your carbs. This protein source can be anything from natural foods to protein drinks and bars.
Here is some great information on protein that I took from a previous article of mine:
Types Of Protein Supplements
Whey protein is highly absorbable and provides the highest concentration of the leucine, isoleucine, and valine. They play a key role in the muscle-building process and also boost immune function.
Whey Concentrate: Whey concentrate is one of the least expensive forms of protein powder you can find on the market today. Some people have a hard time digesting concentrates, which leave them bloated and gassy. Some people live with it, and some people look for something else.
Whey Isolates: Whey isolates are one of the quicker absorbing proteins available on the market today, although pricey, it isn't the most expensive. You will find almost all of the containers of isolates have very low if any amounts of carbohydrates in them.
Hydrolyzed Whey: Hydrolyzed whey protein has some of the benefits of whey while providing highly absorbable peptides that can have anabolic effects. This is by far the most expensive protein you will be able to find.
Casein Protein: Casein protein is a slow digesting protein. It can be slowly absorbed for 5-7 hours which makes it a great choice for a pre-bed supplement.
Casein protein is also a good idea to use during the day to keep you full and to keep a constant supply of protein available between meals or snacks if you have a long period of time between them. The glutamine content in casein is very high which can maintain immune function.
Milk Protein Isolate: Milk protein contains both whey and casein proteins. This protein is full of amino acids from both whey and casein protein.
Soy Protein Isolate: Soy protein is a vegetarian source of protein. It has been shown to support thyroid hormone output, which helps increase the metabolism and aids in fat loss. The isoflavones found in the soy can help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Soy is also loaded with glutamine, arginine, and BCAA's.
There are forms of soy protein concentrate found in soybeans, tofu, and soymilk. Theses are not the same as soy protein isolates. Soy products can be estrogenic in men and can cause water retention and bloating.
Egg Albumin: Cooked egg whites are a good source of egg albumin. Egg albumin which has been known as the traditional protein has an amazing amino acid profile and is still one of the best whole food protein sources that you can get. Not only are they good for you, but eggs are relatively inexpensive.
You will also find some protein blends containing egg albumin due to its great profile. It is not uncommon to find it in meal replacements or sold solely as a protein powder.
Some Great Whole Food Protein Choices
Chicken Breast: Chicken breast is a relatively low-fat, high quality protein source. It contains high doses of BCAA's and has a good potassium-to-sodium ratio (which can positively influence water balance).
It is always best to try and get in as many whole foods as possible before using protein supplements. You can make many different platters with chicken, which makes it very versatile come meal time.
Top Sirloin Steak: Top sirloin is a lean protein source with an excellent potassium-to-sodium ratio, it provides iron and good amounts of the amino acids alanine and lysine, which can help support energy and lean body mass. It also contains a great amount of B12, selenium, zinc, and phosphorous.
Again, if you have it available, whole foods are a much better choice than protein supplements.
Tuna:This is another lean protein source that provides an excellent amount of BCAA's. Canned versions are not only convenient, but they are also inexpensive sources of protein. They also sell tuna in sealed packages as well.
Tuna can be put on crackers or in a salad or even ate straight out of the can/package. Tuna is a very nutrient dense choice having several minerals and vitamins found in it including niacin, selenium, B6, thiamin, phosphorous, potassium, and magnesium. It also has omega-3 fatty acids in it, which are the good fats that we all need in our diet that support cardiovascular health.
Salmon: Salmon has a high amount of BCAA's in as well as being loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon is a great source of protein and one of the better fish you can eat in terms of health benefits. It is great for maintaining cardiovascular health. Salmon is also loaded with minerals and vitamins such as selenium, niacin, B12, phosphorous, magnesium, and B6.
Nuts: Nuts such as cashews, walnuts, and almonds (just to name a few) are not only a great snack full of protein, but they also have many health benefits. They are also loaded with vitamins and minerals, which add to their already outstanding profile.
|Nut - 100 grams||Calories||Protein||Carbs||Fats||Details|
|Almonds||578||21.3g||19.7g||50.6g||[ Go ]|
|Cashews||566||18.2g||27.1g||46.9g||[ Go ]|
|Macadamias||718||7.9g||13.8g||75.8g||[ Go ]|
|Peanuts||567||25.8g||16.1g||49.2g||[ Go ]|
|Pecans||691||9.2g||13.9g||72g||[ Go ]|
|Pistachios||557||20.6g||28g||44.4g||[ Go ]|
|Walnuts||654||15.2g||13.7g||65.2g||[ Go ]|
|[ Food Nutrient Database ]|
4 / Watch Your Carbs & Watch Your Spare Tire Disappear
This is pretty much common sense... if you eat a bunch of carbs you can sit back and watch your stomach grow. There are good carbs and then there are bad carbs. Feel free to eat fruits and vegetables and not feel bad about it.
The red flag should appear when you start drooling over cakes, white flour products, pasta, and things of that nature. Those products can pack on the calories in a hurry.
You want to concentrate on carbs that are low glycemic rather than high glycemic. Low glycemic carbohydrates will raise and lower your blood sugar slowly while the high glycemic carbohydrates will make your blood sugar spike quickly and then crash.
Low glycemic diets will
- Reduce hunger and keep you fuller for longer
- Help people lose and control weight
- Increase the body's sensitivity to insulin
- Improve diabetes control
- Prolong physical endurance
- Help re-fuel carbohydrate stores after exercise
- Reduce the risk of heart disease
- Reduce blood cholesterol levels
5 / Drink Up Sailor!
Water that is. Water should become your new best friend if you haven't already met it. Sodas and similar drinks are loaded with sugars and empty calories that should be avoided at all costs. Those extra calories add up over the course of a couple months and make you gain unwanted weight.
It is extremely important to replenish water after a workout. Not only can you suffer from dehydration (especially in hot weather), but becoming deficient of water can cause normal bodily functions to either not work efficiently or can make them shut down-both cases not being ideal.
A simple way to figure out how many ounces of water you need a day is to simply take your body weight in pounds and multiply it by 0.55.
Example: Say you weight 170 pounds
(170 x 0.55) = 93.5 ounces of water a day
6 / Weight Training
I think it is pretty much understood these days that in order to lose weight you need to do some sort of weight training. Weight training benefits everyone, ranging from kids to the elderly.
What can weight training do for you?
- Increase strength
- Increase endurance
- Increase metabolism
- Relieve stress
- Increase and restore bone density
- Reduces the risk of osteoporosis
- Increase lean muscle mass
- Prevent injuries
- Improves balance
- Decreases the risk of disease
- Enhances sport performance
- Improves body image
- Lowers blood pressure
- Lowers resting heart rate
- Elevates mood
- Burns fat
So what's not to love about weight training? With all the benefits mentioned above and many more out there, you would be foolish to leave this out of your summer prep let alone your daily life. With as little as two days a week of weight training, you can significantly change your physique and your life by adding this into your regimen. Of course if you can get in 3-4 days of weight training a week that would be even better.
What's Not To Love About Weight Training?
Weight training can either be done in full body workouts or they can be split up into certain muscles groups each day. Either way you choose to train will be effective in helping you reach your summer weight loss goals.
Women... remember, no matter how much weight you lift you will never get as big as the guys in the gym. Don't let that be a factor that steers you away from weight training. Men naturally have more testosterone that allows them to build muscle much quicker than females. So go to the gym and don't be afraid to pick up some heavy weights, they don't bite. Who knows, you might even be able to show up some of the guys in the gym!
7 / Cardio Sucks!
Let's face it, cardio sucks. There isn't any way around it, but it has to be done. The key is to find something that you enjoy doing and go with it. This can be anything from playing sports to something as simple as walking around the neighborhood. Whatever the case may be, find that something that you enjoy doing that raises your heart rate into the target zone (strive for between 60-70% of your heart rate max).
In order to find your target heart rate use the formulas below:
(220 - your age - your resting HR) x 0.60 + your resting HR = your HR at 60% your max
(220 - your age - your resting HR) x 0.70 + your resting HR = your HR at 70% your max
Example: Say you are 32 years old and your resting heart rate is 63.
(220 - 32 - 63) x 0.60 + 63 = 138 at 60%
(220 - 32 - 63) x 0.70 + 63 = 151 at 70%
Therefore you want to have your heart rate between 138 and 151 when you are doing your cardio.
|HEART RATE CALCULATOR|
8 / Make A List & Check It Twice
No, it's not Christmas time (bummer, I know)... But now is the time to write down some goals that you want to accomplish. You should have both short-term and long-term goals down on paper. The short-term goals can either be weekly weight loss goals or monthly weight loss goals that take you into the summer. The long term-goals you set should take you a couple months down the road if not over a year.
When setting weight loss goals, take into consideration that you can lose 1-2 pounds a week. If you are losing more than that in a week's time you could be losing muscle mass which you don't want to do. So when looking at a month for a timeframe, you can lose 4-8 pounds a month and do it in a healthy fashion.
Write down the goals that you have (short and long-term) and keep it in a place where you can see it often (kitchen fridge, desk, table, whatever). This will ensure that you are always aware and no matter what you do, you have that plan and goals in the back of your head.
Many people who their goal is to eat cleaner and lose weight will normally put that list on their fridge. That way when they are hungry and want to have a snack, it reminds them of their goal and helps them pick a healthy snack rather than grabbing for the ice cream. No matter where you put it, make sure it stays there. As you reach your goals, cross them off and move to the next one.
9 / Evaluate Your Goals
After a period of time, sit down with the list of goals you made and evaluate where you are at that given moment. If you find one of your goals is going to be a long shot, then change it to something more realistic. The point of making goals isn't to make them so hard that they are unobtainable, but to make them so you have a game plan for success.
Of course you don't want to make them too easy, yet you don't want to make it something that you can never accomplish in a given amount of time. So go over your game plan often and make sure you are on track for success. As long as you are on track, you will be ready for summer in no time.
10 / Have Fun!
To me, this is the most important aspect of getting ready for the summer and dropping those last couple pounds that you put on during the winter. You need to find something that you enjoy doing.
If cardio on a treadmill isn't your thing, but you enjoy playing basketball-then by all means play basketball for your cardio. The same goes with weight training, if you don't like something then switch it up to a form of weight training that you enjoy.
Exercising and losing weight isn't just to improve your health, but it is also to help you live a less stressful life, giving you the total mind, body, spirit experience. Good luck on your goals and have a great summer with the new you!