Once Again, Swimsuit Season Lurks Around the Corner
It’s that time of year again – time to put up the sweaters and bring out the clingy dresses and – gulp – the Swimsuit. (Cue Dum-dum DAAAAH music here.) It’s only a couple of months, maybe less, before you are ready to hit the pool or beach, but your body is definitely not ready for it.
Instead of clinging tightly to that all-concealing winter wrap, take a deep breath. It’s not too late to shed winter pounds and reveal your inner, leaner core. And you can do it without the agony and ultimate failure of a crash diet that leaves fat right where you don’t want it.
Plan for success by making a late resolution right now: to adopt sensible eating and exercise habits that will take off and keep off the fat you don’t need. You can get started with a few simple rules focused on fuel, fitness and fortification.
Fuel: Start by Eating Right
You don’t need to limit yourself to tofu and dry toast – in fact, you shouldn’t. Instead, eat a sensible, natural diet with good proteins, lots of fresh produce and smart fats. Foods are the material your body will use to create this summer’s lean, mean, health machine, and just as you want high-quality materials when you build a skyscraper, you want to build your body with the best food possible.
Start by keeping it natural, with as much fresh, unprocessed food as possible. Bacon’s not totally out, nor is butter, but you should treat these items as sparingly-used condiments to dress up your kale salad, lean steak or chicken sandwich, or fresh steamed asparagus. If you’re in the habit of using bad fats like this for cooking, try substituting olive or coconut oil; both these healthy fats add great flavor while helping your body absorb vitamins and nutrients. Keep your diet balanced between meat and fresh produce, and try to eat plenty of leafy veggies, tubers, fruit and nuts to ensure your gut bacteria stays healthy.
Most importantly, be mindful of what you eat. We used to say grace and sit down to formal dinners, but now we grab a latte on the go and make a run through the drive-thru during our short lunch breaks. No wonder we’re getting fatter as a culture! Slow it down; make food an important part of your day instead of something you throw down your throat between meetings. You don’t have to say grace, but stopping to focus on the food you are about to eat helps you realize that you are, indeed, eating. It’s a way to nourish the appetite as well as the body.
And give up the latte, by the way. Opt for water, or at least skip the fat and sugar if you have to have that morning coffee.
Fitness: Get Moving!
After all the carb-heavy holiday feasting, traveling, short dark days and cold stay-indoors weather, it’s normal to emerge from your winter cave feeling sluggish, heavy and uninspired. Good news – exercise generates endorphins, eliminating the winter blahs fast and helping jump-start your springtime metabolism. Yes, it’s time to exercise again.
If you haven’t kept up your normal regimen over winter, use this time to review your old habits and decide what works and what doesn’t. You want to build a routine that helps charge your metabolism, build core muscle, and create that lean profile that looks so great in a swimsuit.
First, focus on training for muscle, not cardio. Why? For one thing, the more muscle you have, the higher your base metabolic rate. Also, you know how it’s so easy to make excuses to have that extra piece of cake if you ran an extra fifteen minutes? Studies have shown that if you’re training for muscle, you’re a lot less likely to feel that you need a “reward” for exercise. That means focusing on muscle training first sets a great habit, and habits are your best tool for creating that lean, healthy body. One more bonus: if you have a higher proportion of muscle to fat, your body creates less fat-craving estrogen.
Once you have your muscle training in place, work on adding in cardio. Intermittent cardio exercises like sprints or modified strongman routines don’t just burn fat while you’re working out; they burn fat for twenty-four hours or more later. In between your cardio, work on the classic multi-joint exercises you remember from gym class like squats and pull-ups to target your swimsuit body problem areas.
Fortification: Post-Workout Fueling
After that workout, you need to pamper and replenish your body so it can heal sore muscles and burn away unwanted fat. That means you start by reaching for the Gatorade, right? Wrong! Sports drinks are mostly sugar and water, and you almost certainly don’t need the sugar. Instead, try a balanced electrolyte without sugar or with very low sugar content.
Likewise step away from the caffeinated drinks. Caffeine spikes cortisol, which leads to inefficient fat burning. Instead of coffee or your after-workout diet Pepsi, go for water with electrolytes and a juicy orange. Vitamin C helps burn away cortisol, and the water replaces critical elements you’ve lost in a good workout, helping your body return to a normal balance quickly.
Great foods to eat after a workout include tart cherries and blueberries for antioxidants and cruciferous veggies like broccoli to help metabolize estrogen. And if you’re going to have a carb-heavy meal in the day, make it this one; the residual metabolic high will help your body process those carbs efficiently, using them as fuel instead of depositing them on your hips.
This is enough to get you started, but a personal trainer can help you develop a routine that’s tailored just for your body, your habits and your needs. Body Masters would love to help you create that system and help you reach your goals. Contact us today to get started on that sexy summer bod.