Slimming down for summer

Start eating and living for health and watch your body change

Summer has arrived, which means it’s time for beaches, bikinis and tan bodies. This also means that summer usually marksĀ  the start of crazy fad diets as we stress out over our winter weight gain an try to achieve the perfect bikini body before December.

There are many ways to lose weight fast, but they often leave you feeling and looking washed out. There is no doubting that fit is the new thin and looking healthy is more appealing than looking skinny. As such, our aim should be to look good without compromising our health.

The best way to achieve this is to stay in shape all year round by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, exercising regularly and eating consciously. This way the mental and physical stress of trying to get into shape in a short period of time, not to mention the amount of work required. So kick those fad diets to the curb because the are a waste of time. Start eating and living for health and watch your body change.

Achieving the most desirable body consists of three key components:

1) Mental preparation and preparedness
2) Your diet
3) Exercise

By now we should all know that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to shaping up, but there are a few universal tips that will hep to whip you into your best shape ever. Some simple guidelines to get you started include:

Adopt sensible eating habits

Skipping breakfast is a sure-fire way to overeat throughout the remainder of the day. It makes sense to eat more in the first half of the when you need fuel to support your daily activities. A bigger breakfast and lunch, with a lighter dinner (and not eating after 19h00) will be the most beneficial lifestyle change you can make. This also keeps your calorie intake at a level at which you can lose weight without going hungry.

Get sufficient sleep

Studies show that those who get adequate sleep (7-8 hours per night) and rest are trimmer and leaner than those who don’t. This is because sleep deprivation increases levels of stress hormone cortisol, which in turn increases appetite and fat storage.

Eat foods in their natural state

Avoid over-processed food. Your body doesn’t know what to do with it and the nutritional benefits are limited.
Rather keep it as clean and natural as possible at every meal to enjoy the benefits of nutrient-rich food the way mother nature intended.

Eat every three hours

This helps balance your blood sugar levels and keeps your appetite in check. It also delivers a steady release of energy throughout the day and reduces the chances of excess fat storage.

Always eat balanced snacks and meals

Eating fibrous and complex carbs, fats and protein at every meal prevents your blood sugar levels from spiking and crashing. This in turn will control cravings and maintain energy levels throughout the day by providing a steady release of micronutrients.

Drink plenty of water

Stay away from carbonated drinks, including diet soft drinks, wherever possible. These drinks are often laden with chemicals that are toxic and can leave you feeling bloated. Anything other than water also adds extra calories to your daily total in the form of liquid, which can significantly increase your calorie intake without much effort.

Major culprits in the regard are non-diet soft drinks, frozen coffee drinks and artificial sweetened smoothies and shakes as they are full of sugar.

Complex and fibrous carbs are best

Eat oatmeal, whole-grain bread, brown rice, fruit and quinoa early in the day and salads and steamed veggies later in the day. This will reduce the amount of excess circulating glycogen that can be stored as a body fat.

Eat more plants

Renowned author Michael Pollan famously stated at the beginning of his book in Defence of Food, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” This is the best nutrition advice one can follow.

Follow the KISS principle at dinner – Keep it simple, stupid

The general rule of thumb when it comes to your final meal before bedtime is to stick to a simple meal that consists of a lean protein source and vegetables. This will limit excess fat storage and aid muscle recovery during sleep.

Find a form of exercise that you love, then do it often

It’s hard enough to commit to something on a daily basis, but it is nearly impossible to do it every day if you don’t love it. So if your chosen form of exercise is not something you love to do then don’t do it. Rather find a form of fitness or exercise that you really enjoy, whether it’s running, lifting weights, boxing, yoga, Pilates or a combination of all of them. Exercise should also be a form of relaxation and shouldn’t leave you feeling stressed out or burdened.

Exercise every day

The absolute minimum requirement for an effective exercise regimen include two weekly 30-minute sessions of moderate to high-intensity cardio and at least three weekly 45-minute body conditioning sessions. Ten minutes of stretching after each exercise session is also a must as this helps to elongate your muscles, which keeps you limber and injury free, and will also give you the added benefit of reducing the stress imposed on your body through exercise and daily living.

Make time to relax

Go for a walk, spend time with friends, read a book, do some gentle yoga or meditate. Doing things that relax you and provide a sense of well-being reduces stress, which has a massive impact on your general well-being.

Go easy on yourself

Work on improving your inner monologue when you notice that negative thoughts start bogging you down. Positive self-coaching goes a long way to getting these runaway thoughts under control. Always strive to go easy on yourself in the face of a challenge or failure. Remember, it’s not what happens to you that counts, it’s what you do about it that really matters.
At the end of the day it is the overall effort that counts, so if you fall off the wagon just get back on and try again. Be flexible and always remember that it’s the small things that add up to make a big difference. So take it one step at a time, just do what you can and as you gain momentum you’ll start noticing the results you want.

Your Summer Shape Up Eating Plan



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