Are you looking into shaping up for summer? Believe it or not, we are quickly approaching spring! Technically summer does not “officially” start till the June 21st but the warm weather just around the corner but so if that extra body fat from the holiday indulgences.
Maybe you have a couple more pounds than you hoped for, but I’m here to tell you, you still have time to work on your health and get your fitness level up before it’s swimsuit season!
Shaping up for summer is not as hard as you might think! Below are 10 tips to get you shaping up for summer and get your “beach body” faster!
Stop Eating Junk Food!
It’s time to ditch the McDonalds and opt for home cooking instead. Not only is fast-food extremely high in calories, sodium, sugar, and fats, but it rarely gives your body any nutritional value (1). Just because you are working out, does not mean it’s ok for you to eat whatever you want and expect it not to affect your health!
Start Cooking at Home
Cooking at home will be better for your health and your wallet. Healthy home cooked meals do not have added sugar, artificial flavoring, and other questionable additives (2). By cooking your food at home, you will also know precisely how it is prepared. It gives you control over your diet!
Stay away from fried food! When you are cooking at home start to grill, steam, or bake the majority of your food.
Another benefit of a healthy home-cooked meal is that you get to control your portion size! Portion sizes are an issue when you are eating out. While our natural response is to finish the food on the plate in front of us, restaurants will frequency give you huge portion sizes.
Cooking at home is an easy way to be in full control of your portion sizes and the ingredients you use.
If you need a refresher on what proper portion sizes should be for common foods, here is a great visual description from the American Cancer Society!
- 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
When you are snacking at home, be sure that you are not eating right out of the bag. Portion your snack out in bowl or plate and then put the rest away. It’s very easy, and before you know it, you ate way more than you ever intended!
Power Up with Protein
Replacing some of your carb intakes with protein can be very beneficial if you are trying to lose fat and build lean muscle. This is especially great when combined with weight training!
There are many different sources of protein. Protein can be in the form of supplements like protein drinks or protein bars, or you can get protein from natural protein-rich foods.
Natural Food with High Protein
It’s always best practice to get as much of your nutrition and protein from natural foods that are high in protein.
Chicken: Chicken is natural a low-fat food that is high in protein. It has excellent potassium to sodium ratio and high doses of BCAA’s. Chicken is probably the protein meat that I include in my diet the most often. It’s very versatile, and there are endless healthy recipes that incorporate chicken. (3)
Salmon: Salmon is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. It’s high in protein and beneficial for maintaining cardiovascular health. It is also rich in other nutrients like selenium, niacin, B12, phosphorous, magnesium, and B6.
I absolutely love salmon, and I try to include it in my diet as often as my budget allows. Salmon is not hard to make, I highly recommend trying out Salmon with Pesto recipes. (4)
Tuna: Tuna is another fish that is a good source of lean protein and has several vitamins and minerals that make it a very nutrient dense food. It is a good source of selenium, B6, thiamin, phosphorous, potassium, niacin, and magnesium. Tuna is another fish with good omega-3 fatty acids.(5)
Tuna can be a relatively inexpensive source of protein if you buy canned tuna. I personally do not like tuna from a can, but I’ve found Seasoned Tuna pouches that you can eat straight out of the pouch, and they are delicious!
Greek Yogurt: If you love yogurt, Greek Yogurt is an excellent substitution you can make to include your protein intake. Greek Yogurt is available in a wide variety of flavors. (6)
Nuts: Nuts have a ton of protein and nutrients. They are a great snack and really fill you up. Just be use you are eating nuts or nut mixes that are unsalted and unsweetened. All varieties of nuts can fall in this category. A few common choices include cashews, walnuts, and almonds. (7)
Healthy Protein Supplements: It not always easy to get a lot of protein in your diet and some days it’s just not realistic. There are many protein supplements available to help you fill the gaps. This more commonly includes protein and nutritional shakes and protein bars.
Good Carbs vs. Bad Carbs
Not all carbs should be grouped into one category and avoided. A general rule of thumb is to try and limit the amount of white flour produces pasta and items along those lines. (Cakes, white bread, baked goods that are high in sugar).
Instead, aim to eat foods that are low glycemic rather than high in glycemic value.(8)
Low Glycemic: Foods that have low glycemic carbohydrates will raise and lower your blood pressure at a slower and steadier rate.
High Glycemic: Food that is high in glycemic carbohydrates can cause your blood pressure to spike and crash.
Complex Carb = Good Carbs
This means that energy is absorbed and released over a more extended period. These healthy carbohydrates are found in unprocessed foods like
- Green Vegetables
- Whole Grain Bread
- Bran Cereals
- Peanut Butter
Why should you eat Complex Carbohydrates?
- Excellent source of fiber and nutrients
- You can feel fuller longer
- Fewer calories
- Natural kick starts the metabolism
- Low glycemic index
Simple Carbs = Bad Carbs
If not used immediately they from fat cells, they get converted into fat. Most simple carbohydrates are found in processed foods. These include
- Deserts, candy
- Sugared cereals
- Refined bread (white bread)
- Soda and sugary drinks
Why should you avoid simple carbohydrates?
- Not a good source of fiber and nutrients
- Unused carbs will get stored as fat
- Easily digested so you will feel hungry again sooner
- High glycemic index
ATTENTION PASTA LOVERS: I’m a total pasta lover. I don’t think I could ever get sick of pasta and there are so many ways to make it. I always tried to limit the amount of pasta in my diet because of the high carb count. I recently sampled Banza Gluten-Free High Protein pasta when I was talking through Costco. It was cooked and mixed with Pesto, and unbelievably delicious! Now I have subscribed to an auto-delivery through Amazon! So if you are interested Amazon is the place to get it, so far the only other place I’ve seen it for sale is in select Costco warehouses.
Hydrate with Water
Water should be the liquid that you drink the most throughout the day. You might not realize it but if you are drinking sodas, juices, and similar drinks you are adding a lot of calories and sugar to your diet. Those extra calories add up quickly, even if you don’t think you are drinking scary drinks that often. (9)
Throughout weeks, months, and years, the empty calories you consume through sugary drinks will add up and make a difference in your weight and health.
Do your best to drink water in place of other sugary drinks. You can always add fresh fruits to infuse the flavor, make tea, and add natural flavoring to give you a new taste.
A great way to estimate the amount of water you should be drinking is a rough calculation with your current body weight:
Take your current body weight (in lbs) and divide it in half. The result is the minimum amount of water in ounces (oz) that you should drink daily.
Example: If I weight 140lb, half of 140lbs is 60, so I should aim to drink at least 60oz of water a day.
Remembering to drink water throughout the day can be difficult. The two methods I recommend are:
- Go BIG: Get yourself a large water bottle and note the number of ounces it holds. Then you will know how many times you should be drinking and refilling it throughout the day. If I should be drinking 60oz of water a daily and my water bottle holds 32oz than I should drink two of full bottles a day.
- Hydration Fitness Tracker: Some Smart Scales will tell you your water levels, but this is not a good way to track your hydration throughout the day unless you want to step on your scale continually. There are fitness trackers that will track your hydration levels and remind you to drink when your hydration level is low. The benefit of this is that it will take into account your workouts and temperature. I always recommend the Healbe health and wellness tracker. This is the wearable that I personally use, so if you have any questions about it, please comment after this post!
Another important hydration tip to remember is to drink plenty of water after working out. This is especially true as the weather warms up. As you sweat, you are losing fluids and electrolytes. Re-hydrate with water. Replenishing electrolytes is also important, but you should not do this with sports drinks that are high in sugar. (10) All natural salt rehydration supplements are a healthier choice and have no sugar or calories.
It goes without saying you can’t just eat right and not workout or just workout and ignore your diet.
If you are determined to lose fat and slim down with lean muscle, you will need to be active. Everyone will have a level of activity that is a unique fitness level and fitness goals.
Weight Training/ Strength Training
Weight training or strength training is something that everyone should be incorporating their fitness routine. Regardless of your age or gender, weight training can strengthen your body. (11)
Benefits of adding weight training:
- 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**
I aim to add at least two strength training sessions into my weekly workouts. Increasing this to 3 to 4 times a week is even better, but this doesn’t a; always happen for me. Remember that even once a week is better than nothing!
I know many girls are concerned that if they start weight training, they will have bulky muscles but this is a complete myth. Next time you head to the gym feel free to pick up some of those heavy weights and work it out!
The best to add cardio to your life is to find something that you enjoy doing. Running is what typically first comes to mind but if you hate running then don’t run! If you force yourself to do things you dread, you are setting yourself up to fail.
If you are not sure what you like, try a few things and experiment. Cardio can be swimming, riding a bike, walking around the neighborhood.
Cardio that could be fun:
walking with your dog or a friend
Volleyball at the park or beach (join a community volleyball league)
Basically, anything active is excellent as long as you are moving your body and not lounging around but strive to do an activity that increases your heart rate.
Shaping up for summer might be a physical goal for your body but don’t neglect your mental health. Stress is a huge inhibitor of weight loss.
Sleep: Sleep is essential to both your physical and mental health. When you are sleep deprived your body will have intense cravings for unhealthy foods typically high in sugar or salt. Not enough sleep can cause your body to have unbalanced hormones. (12)
Mindful Moments: When I say “relax” I’m not talking about vegging out and binging on Netflix. Relax your mind, practice deep and mindful breathing. This can be done through Yoga or Meditation.
Journal: Journaling is a great way to document your progress, reevaluate your goals. Journaling can be a great way to reduce stress and anxiety by writing down your thoughts on paper. When you have a physical record of your progress and a reminder of all the effort you put into yourself, it can really motivate you to continue toward your goals. This allies to all categories of your life, not just fitness! (12)
Have Fun with Fitness
Fitness is always easier when you have fun with it. Toning your muscles, losing fat, and improving your health should become a habit.
These healthy lifestyle tips should also help you live a less stressful life and pave the path for the balanced mind, body, and soul experience.
Do you have tips to help other’s shape up their mental and physical health? Comment below!