The summer season is right around the corner, which means it’s time to get in shape for bikini season. Losing weight can be tough-especially with all of the cookouts going on in the summer.
Whether you’re just beginning to lose weight or you’re struggling to lose those last five pounds, these 10 diet and fitness tips will address your weight loss dilemma and help you get toned and ready for the summer.
1. Set a goal and make a plan
Setting a specific goal gives you something to work toward. Figure out an attainable goal weight and calculate how far away you are from it. “Come up with a plan for change. Come up with a plan for how you’re going to reach your goal or lose your pounds,” says dietitian Kimberly Jones, owner of Healthy Innovations Inc. in Southfield.
2. Get some support
By making your weight loss goals known, you’re less likely to fall of the bandwagon. “Let everybody know what your goals are,” Jones says. You will also be spared from being put in tempting situations, such as cookouts with family or fast food runs with co-workers.
“Enlist family members or friends to get involved with you,” says Erin Szaroleta, trainer at the DMC Fitness Training Center at the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan. “If everyone eats healthy and exercises together, you’re much more likely to succeed when you have a buddy to hold you accountable.”
3. Take an inventory
Before you can get started on your journey, you must know where you currently stand. Weigh yourself, and evaluate your habits and behaviors. Figure out whether you’re a stress eater, and know what foods are hardest for you to resist.
“Take an inventory of where you are now. Assess behavior, assess eating habits, and some of your attitudes toward food,” Jones says. “Also, take in consideration, family functions and how you are going to approach that or deal with those.”
4. Replace bad habits one at a time
Giving up the things you love isn’t easy. In order to prevent a relapse, which is common when you give up your comfort foods cold turkey, slowly delete those unhealthy foods from your menu.
“Add in the foods you need before subtracting the foods you don’t need,” Szaroleta says. “Your body will work to your advantage and eventually start to reject the unhealthy foods.”
5. Commit to exercise
It’s recommended that adults get 30-60 minutes of exercise a day. A lot of people see that as too daunting and use that as an excuse not to exercise at all. But Szaroleta says those minutes of exercise don’t have to be consecutive, you can break it up throughout your day.
“A lot of the time people have a hard time blocking off a certain amount of time to get an exercise in, so you can break it up and combine it with everyday duties like yard work or shopping or cooking,” Szaroleta says.
6. Eat clean foods
“Shop mainly around the outsides of the grocery store. That’s where all of the fresh ingredients are,” Szaroleta says.
Grocery stores usually keep their refrigerated items around the outside of the store, and that’s where clean foods, such as meats and dairy, are located. Fruits and vegetables are also normally kept around the outside of most grocery stores.
7. Get enough sleep
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep every night, but hectic work schedules, chores and other daily demands can prevent many Americans from getting enough zzz’s. Sleep deprivation can be linked to all sorts of health issues, including an increased chance of obesity.
“Consistency is key as far as sleep is concerned,” Szaroleta says. “Don’t stay up for the late show. Use your DVR or your TIVO to your advantage.”
8. Maximize your muscle
Although most people, especially women, shy away from building muscle out of fear of bulking up, muscle actually helps burn fat. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate, which is the speed at which your body burns calories.
“Maximize your muscle, that’s probably one of the biggest things you could do. Muscles are fat burning furnaces,” Szaroleta says. “Do enough resistance training to build and maintain them. Follow your workout with a snack or a balanced meal of proteins, carbohydrates or fat.”
9. Knock out different types of exercise at once
Splitting up your exercises by types can make working out seem like more of a chore. Complete your strength training, cardiovascular exercises, and flexibility exercises, all at the same time in combined exercises.
“They don’t have to be separated, so you might as well do them together. If you have time, do them all at the same time and get the most bang for your buck,” Szaroleta says.
10. Re-evaluate your plan
They say the last five pounds are the hardest to lose, and being stuck so close to your set goal can be disheartening. At this point, Jones recommends that you need to make further changes to your normal routine.
“When you get down to the last 10, 15, 5 pounds, whatever the case may be, that’s the stage of reevaluation,” Jones says. “You need to start the process all over.”