There's been a lot of negative press attached to the term "summer body" and with good reason - far too much pressure is put on people to adopt an unhealthy regime in an attempt to achieve a so-called perfect physique. It's unrealistic and, quite frankly, it's dangerous.
But the fact remains that plenty of Britons still make a concerted effort to slim down and tone up at this time of year.
To emphasise this point, Fitness First Clubs conducted a quick poll to see how many people are planning to ramp up their weight-loss efforts in the coming months. The results showed that 57% of respondents are hoping to lose weight before the summer holiday season begins, with women being particularly keen on the idea.
Indeed, almost two-thirds of the women who took part in our survey said they were looking to slim down, compared with just 46% of men.
But how do we achieve the look that we want in such a relatively short space of time? And more importantly, how do we do it safely without putting our health at risk? Signing up for a gym membership is a good place to start, of course! To give you even more help, we asked our expert personal trainers to share some top fitness tips and workout advice that you can use straight away.
Variety is key when exercising
When you only have a few months to shape up, there’s always a risk that you’ll overdo things in the gym and do yourself more harm than good. Be sensible!
Carly Tierney, a DW personal trainer and nutrition expert, explained what you need to be doing in the gym during the spring season.
“If you want to make some real, long lasting changes to your body over the coming months in time for summer my suggestion would be to keep training varied by combining strength circuits, cardio and resistance training,” she commented.
“This method of training will suit almost everyone and provides a number of workouts designed to keep things interesting, practical (some of the training takes less than half an hour) and of course to get those all-important results.”
Master trainer Eddy Diget is also a big advocate of varied routines, functional training and full-body workouts.
“It is the diversity of food and training that helps you lose weight quicker, not a regimented routine. Consider combination exercises instead of just sticking to the treadmill or stair stepper. It will work wonders for your body,” he commented.
“You shouldn’t try to lose body fat simply by doing more cardio every session. Use exercises that utilise weight to give you a cardio kick - such as a medicine ball with a stepper.”
Top tips: Don’t diet, eat clean!
The prospect of spending three months eating nothing but lettuce leaves and cucumber is extremely grim. It’s also more likely to hinder your weight loss efforts and make you feel more than a tad cranky!
Eddy and Carly both shared some nuggets of nutritional wisdom to help you to shed pounds without putting your health in jeopardy.
Eddy added: “Do not go on any 'fast diets' – ‘five day on, five day off’ diets, for example. They can have adverse effects on your body, causing cramps, lethargy, headaches, irritability and nausea.
“Why mistreat your body, when you can properly plan your food intake to coincide with your exercise in the months prior to your holiday? If you prepare properly, weight does stay off, so the occasional binge will not affect your desired look. Why would you want to lie on the beach feeling like death because you’re so hungry?”
Carly said that those who partake in fad diets tend to put the weight straight back on because it’s so unsustainable.
“Instead of counting calories, I suggest focusing on the quality of calories that you consume and having a bit of what you fancy in moderation,” she continued.
“I am an advocate of clean eating. Basically it's making the best choices from all of the food groups, having a balanced and healthy diet, eating whole foods and avoiding foods that are processed. Once a week I'd suggest a ‘treat day’ where you indulge in a pizza, some chocolate or a glass of wine and then get back to eating well for the other six days. Diets don't work because they are all about depriving yourself and limiting your intake.”
13 general rules for clean eating
1) If you can't pronounce an ingredient, don't eat it
2) Things you cook yourself are best!
3) Include a carb and protein with every meal
4) Have two portions of good fats each day – for example, avocado, olive oil and unsalted cashew nuts
5) Limit fruit to two portions per day
6) Eat five or six small meals per day
7) Eat whole natural foods like veg, meat and fish
8) Avoid “diet” foods which are full of chemicals
9) Don't count calories - instead eat well and eat more
10) Drink two litres of water per day
11) Ask how food is prepared when eating out
12) Avoid sugar – this Blog post will help you out on this front
13) Limit alcohol
5 things to avoid when healthy eating
- Skipping meals
- Temptation – if you can learn to cut it out, it gets easier
- Counting calories
- Making excuses - you are what you eat!
The clock is ticking! Spring officially started on March 20th so it’s time to put the wheels in motion on your spring/summer fitness plans. Check out where your local Fitness First Club is and visit us soon!