We are about six weeks from summer now and we’re starting to hear rumblings about shedding winter clothing: “I need some color in my legs,” “I wish my legs were firmer,” “Look at the giggle in my arms.” We can be very hard on ourselves! This last weekend, the first of the sunny, hot weather in our normally frozen tundra, had most of us rummaging through our shorts and T-shirts drawer looking for something to wear. Feeling awkward and uncomfortable baring our normally hidden limbs, we look reluctantly in the mirror and vow to get fit by swimsuit season.
In six weeks, you can trim down, get firmer, and feel better about showing off what you’ve got! Use the next six weeks to establish a foundation for wellness or to ramp it up to a new level through both your nutrition and fitness.
Where Do You Start?
We don’t believe in crash diets, magic pills, or excessive exercise to get to lasting results. So, if you are looking for a magic genie, then stop reading now. If you are prepared to work for it, then read on.
Define Your Goal – We’ve talked about this before. If you don’t know your destination then you don’t know if you ever get there! For example, are you hoping to lose a few pounds? Do you want to trim inches off your waist or thighs? Want to look buff or simply feel good about the way you look? Define what you are hoping to achieve in the next six weeks and be specific.
Understand Your Starting Point – Know your starting point as well. Weigh yourself, take measurements or pictures of the specific body parts you want to improve. Keep a diary of your eating habits for a period of time (1 week is reasonable) to understand what you are consuming and what changes you can make to improve it. It will be inspirational to see how far you come!
Take Stock Along the Way – Stay on track by weighing in and taking measurements throughout the six weeks. We’d recommend weekly although be prepared for gradual changes rather than dramatic ones. This process is an ongoing effort that will get you there safely with proper time and discipline, although perhaps with some ups and downs along the way. Ask yourself, “How has my nutrition improved?” “How well am I sticking to my fitness regime?”
What Should You Do?
Remember that you need to focus on both nutrition and fitness. Figure out what specific things you will do in both these areas. Here are some tips to get you started:
Tips for Nutrition:1. Switch to water as your beverage of choice.
- Water may suppress appetite. Signals for hunger and thirst are controlled in the same part of the brain; therefore, your body may mistake thirst for hunger. This mistaken identity may cause you to eat more. Bottom line, drink more water!
- Water may increase your metabolism by 30% according to a study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. http://jcem.endojournals.org/content/88/12/6015.full.
- It’s best to drink between meals and only to drink a small amount with your meal. Drinking too much with your meal may cause problems with digestion.
- Other beverage choices that may have the same effect as water include red raspberry leaf tea, yerba mate and green tea.
- According to studies, it is ideal to sleep 7 to 8 hours per night. People who slept for shorter periods produced more ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite contributing to weight gain. For a summary of the study, see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21654631.
- Fiber makes you feel fuller and more satisfied.
- Be sure to get your fill of fruits and vegetables like apples, pears, and spinach to curb your appetite. Beans, nuts and seeds are also high in fiber. Try garbanzo beans, flax seeds, and chia seeds.
Tips for Fitness:
With a short period available for achieving results, the objective is to increase the number of calorie burned through exercise; find ways to supercharge your metabolism; and burn more fat than carbs if you are hoping to look leaner.1. Increase TIME or INTENSITY of your cardio activity.
- Increasing TIME – For example, if you run or use the elliptical trainer for 30 minutes three times per week, then increase that to 35-40 minutes per session or 35-40-35 minutes for the three weekly session. You could also add one more day of cardio for 30 minutes. In subsequent weeks, increase the time by about another 5 or 10 minutes if you feel okay. By the end of the six weeks you will be capable of longer cardio workouts and burning more calories.
- Increasing INTENSITY – There are several ways to increase intensity in some and not necessarily all of your workouts. For one, increase the level at which you are exercising on the treadmill or on the elliptical.
- You can also try INTERVALS that require you to go at a much higher intensity for a short time and then back to your regular level for an equal or slightly less time or more time. For example, if you are walking on a treadmill at 3.0 miles per hour (mph), then increase it to 5.0 mph and run or walk briskly for 2 minutes and then go back down to 3.0 mph for 2 minutes. You can keep increasing the levels and/or the time at which you run or walk at the higher level. On most cardio machines you can also change the incline which can also increase the intensity of your workout.
- Find time to incorporate a weight routine 2 to 3 times per week as it will help define and firm your muscles. Performing cardio activities is not enough to making you look strong and buff.
- If you want to work on your cardio and strength at the same time then you could try CIRCUITS in which you perform a cardio activity for let’s say 10-15 minutes, then move to a set of your weights, then back to your cardio activity for another 10-15 minutes. This circuit is repeated for 3 to 4 times or more if you wish. There are a number of variations to circuits. Check out the links below for ideas.
- According to Cory Fagan, an exercise physiologist, “If you have less than 60 minutes to work out and you want to lose fat effectively, you need to minimize or eliminate the amount of moderate to high glycemic index foods prior to exercise.” See his full article at http://www.tcrsportlab.blogspot.ca/2011/07/burning-fat.html.
- Link to list of the glycemic index of foods: http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/Glycemic_index_and_glycemic_load_for_100_foods.htm
- Keep track of the time you spend seated or inactive and find ways to move more. By the end of the six week, make it your goal to have more ‘move’ time than ‘seated’ time during your typical day.
- Check out these links for ideas on increasing intensity of workouts, for circuits or good base workouts:
By the end of the six weeks, we’re hoping you get addicted to this intensely satisfying and nourishing routine, which you just can’t live without any more. Find what works for you and the next thing you know, you’ll be basking in the sun, feeling great in your new swimsuit – maybe even a bikini!