Start thinking about your summer body
Article date: 21 February 2014
With just over a week to go until March, great things are happening. The nights and mornings are getting lighter, the weather is improving (slightly) - believe it or not, summer is on its way.
That said, now is the time when you should start thinking about taking action to get back into shape, in preparation for a season when you will undoubtedly be wearing fewer clothes.
As the gluttonous festive period is now well behind us, the theory is that those New Year resolutions are still in place and you've been hitting the gym everyday and meticulously watching what you eat. However, in reality, we all know it's not that simple.
If you're looking forward to a holiday in the coming months and want to show off your toned, healthy figure, then here are a few tips to help you on your way to achieving that aim.
Set yourself goals
While it's easy to jump into a regime without any direction, this approach risks you putting in a lot of work without getting the results you desire at the end of the process. Therefore, it is important to set realistic goals on how you want to change your body in time for summer and focus on how you can go about reaching those targets.
For example, if your main aim is to lose weight, then a change to your diet is likely to make a huge impact. This should be coupled with activity designed to stimulate metabolism - so exercise is also a must.
However, a different stance will be needed if your aim is to build your muscles and tone up. In this case, you should aim to maintain your regular calorie intake, while primarily focusing on muscle-strengthening exercises.
It is also useful to be able to measure your progress as you go along, so at the start of any new regime, you should make sure to get your measurements. This can help you track how well you are doing or motivate you to up your efforts if it appears as though you are falling behind schedule.
Choose the right sort of exercise
Different activities can result in varying impacts on your body, so ensuring you are doing the right sort of exercise is important.
In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, the Department of Health (DoH) recommends adults should spend around two-and-a-half hours each week participating in moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as fast walking or cycling. If you prefer to spend your time running, this is classed as vigorous-intensity - therefore you only need to do this for one-and-a-quarter hours over a seven-day period.
As well as exertion to get your heart pumping, the DoH also suggests you spend at least two days per week doing work on strengthening your muscles. This entails anything from lifting weights, to push-ups and sit-ups, which should be fairly easy to incorporate into your daily routine.
Avoid crash diets
They key to achieving a natural, attractive summer body is to change your way of life on a long-term basis. While crash diets may seem tempting, with their promises of fast results and minimal efforts, they are not the answer.
One of the reasons for this is that your body will almost-instantly revert back to its old self the moment you break the eating habits your short-regime has encouraged you to adopt. This can often lead to a vicious cycle of bingeing and crashing that is ultimately an unhealthy routine to get into.
Research from the US-based Strategies to Overcome and Prevent Obesity Alliance found crash diets actually contribute to negative health outcomes, resulting in the scientists involved in the study to label them "dangerous".
In contrast to the crash approach, you should be looking to eat regularly - albeit in moderation. Breakfast in particular is vital to kick-starting your daily metabolic levels, while three proper meals a day will also encourage you to spend less time snacking on food that is likely to have a negative impact on your efforts to get trim.
When it comes to wanting to lose weight, fruit and veg should be your weapons of choice. They are high in fibre and low in fat and calories - so in this sense are essential for helping you drop the pounds. Similarly, they are also rich in vitamins and minerals - further contributing to your overall good health.