As random bursts of warm weather and sunshine break through the winter months, or at least for this northern girl, it reminds me that summer is right around the corner which means one thing: shorts and bikinis! For some of us, we can’t wait to strip down and enjoy the warm sun on our skin and dip into the nearest pool. But I bet quite a few of you reading this just cringed at the thought of swimsuit season. Luckily for you though, I have 9 tips that will help you get ready for summer in 3 short months! Oh, did you think I was going to say 3 weeks? Sorry, this isn’t a flashy cleanse article that will help you drop 20 lbs in 3 weeks time (that you will most likely gain back that next week). This is more of a permanent solution so you can keep that swimsuit bod all year round!
1. Create a Why: So why exactly do you want to lose weight? Now, don’t give me some answer like “I need to be skinnier”. There is no heart or feeling to that answer! I want you to get honest with yourself and really ask yourself why. Is it to feel more confident when you are on vacation? Is it to be healthier and set a better example for your children? Is it so you can feel more inclined to having sex with the lights on? Hey, we won’t judge! But without a real reason of why behind your goal to lose body fat, there will be no success.
2. Take a Step: Literally and figuratively, take a step: make a move! As they say, the first step is usually the hardest one to make. No matter if you are stepping off the couch or already have a workout routine, you need to up the intensity. Now if you are someone who is naturally sedentary, then perhaps starting with walking 3-4 times a week will be enough. If that isn’t enough, then up your intensity by doing sprints, running steps, and lifting heavy (and I mean as heavy as possible) in the gym. It doesn’t matter where you start, it just matters that you do. As you progress throughout the weeks, you can determine if you need to up the volume whether in duration or intensity based on how you feel. The harder you push yourself, the more likely you will cause a greater change. And remember, losing body fat simply reveals what is underneath, so if you want muscles, you have to work for them!
3. Track Your Food Intake: Track your normal food intake using a calorie counter app for 3-5 days. How many calories are you currently eating? Most of my clients tend to be underfed, so don’t be surprised if you find out that you are eating less than you should for your activity level. How much should you eat?
Here is an easy way to calculate your ideal intake to reach your goal weight: Calories = target body weight x (number of training sessions + level of intensity 9/10/11 for women or 10/11/12 for men).
Another calculation that I really like can be found here: http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/. You can plug in your information to find your BMR (basil metabolic rate), which is the number of calories it takes to keep your body alive simply based on your statistics. Then you will have to multiply that number by the appropriate activity factor found here: http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/harris-benedict-equation/. This is a good way to see how many calories you should be eating based on your activity level. I always recommend people to start here calorie wise and if they don’t lose weight in the first two weeks, then cut 250 calories and then proceed to wait another week or two before making any more cuts. Losing .5lb to 1lb a week is great progress, but I wouldn’t recommend more than a pound a week. Also keep in mind that those that don’t need to lose as much may progress slower as in .5-1lb every two weeks which is still good progress!
4. Get Your Protein: A lot of people know how to eat healthy, but the balance of their foods are off and they end up over consuming on fruit and under consuming on protein and calories as a whole. Ever try to diet and wonder why you are cranky, hungry, and find yourself face first in a pizza two weeks in? That is your sign that you aren’t eating enough! Cutting calories significantly is not sustainable and it will make you miserable. Protein is a great source of calories as it helps keep you fuller for longer and it helps with building muscle and replacing/repairing tissue. Protein is dictated by your activity level and total calories as the more active you are, the more protein and calories you will need. Typically consuming about 30% of your caloric intake in protein is good for most people so I would recommend starting around there.
5. Fat and Carbs Won’t Make You Fat: Don’t be afraid of these great macronutrients. Ideally most of your calories come from unprocessed foods. For fat, that can include animal fat found in protein, coconut oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, etc. Carbs can be found in vegetables, fruit, and grains. These are great options to fill out the rest of your calories. If you are more active, you will most likely want to consume closer to 40% of your calories from carbs, while 30% would come from fat. If you are less active, do light activity, or simply have a lot more body fat to shed, you could consume closer to 25% carbs and 40% fat (which would make protein intake about 35%).
6. Take Pictures: I know this may seem like the worst idea at first, but sometimes the scale doesn’t accurately reflect what is happening in the mirror. It is always best to take pictures every few weeks to see what is going on. When it comes down to it, most of us would rather look a certain way versus weigh a specific number.
7. Gain a Support Group: There is nothing more important than support! Whether that means getting your friends involved through diet, exercise, or both, or simply asking a friend or loved one to keep you accountable, it can go a long way.
8. Be Patient and Find the Positive: If you were looking for a quick fix, you came to the wrong place. If you want weight loss that will stick, sometimes that means being a little more patient and putting in the work. It won’t always be easy and you may want to quit sometimes, but find the positives and remember your “why”. Trust me, it will be worth it!
9. At the End of the Day, You are Sexy: No matter your weight or body fat percentage, if you don’t appreciate and love your body, you will never be satisfied. Sure, your stomach could be a little flatter or the cellulite on the back of your legs could take a hike, but we all have our “uniqueness”. We will never have a perfect body because what is perfect? Instead of focusing on what we wish we had, our focus needs to be on what we appreciate about our current self. Switch your mindset from what you hate to what you love. Instead of looking at your loose skin on your stomach, remind yourself of the amazing children that your body produced. Instead of wishing your thighs were smaller, remember that they are what allow you to squat, pick up heavy objects, or run a race. And if this is too much for you initially, perhaps start smaller. As you look in the mirror each morning, give yourself some words of affirmation whether it’s for having a beautiful smile, great hair, or finding the determination to go to the gym when you wanted to sleep in. Like everything worthwhile, it will take a lot of hard work and time, but hopefully one day you will be able to look in the mirror and say “you know what, I may not be perfect, but I am sexy just the way I am”.