Want to change your body before you hit the beach? Then you have to make some changes, because after all as I always say… There is no change, without change. That being said, the smallest change can make the biggest difference.
Start slow and pick up momentum as you begin to get into your new habit. You can’t live your life in a day and you can’t get fit or build a six-pack in a day either. However, too much too soon can be a recipe for disaster and you end up putting way too much pressure on yourself to succeed; the key is to give yourself enough time to achieve your goals and be successful. So start now and hit the beach running.
A quick fix for weight loss is not the answer. Cutting back on calories to a low daily intake will leave you with a lack of important nutrients required by the body to function correctly, and your body will start craving foods that will offer a quick fix for satiety – namely fat and sugar. On top of that, low-calorie diets can lead to calcium loss meaning you will weaken your bones and fluid imbalance which will make you tired and the body will be encouraged to burn less calories due to a loss of energy. You will be hungry, which causes your metabolism to slow, also meaning fewer calories are burned, and you may suffer from dizziness, lack of concentration and you will have incredible mood swings.
Make sure you get something to eat every three to four hours; think little and often. Your daily diet should always consist of protein, carbohydrates and fat. Remember that too many calories make you fat; eating carbs will not make you gain weight unless you eat too much. If you are a carbaphobic bear in mind that carbohydrates are very versatile and keep the metabolism stimulated. What you need to take care of is not eating too many processed carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice and high sugar cereals. Stick to the brown version whenever possible and consider any processed food as something you should only eat occasionally. Salad, vegetables brown rice, wholemeal bread and bagels, baladi bread and non-sugared cereals are all excellent choices to get your carbs in.
Fat is not the enemy! There are good fats and bad fats. You need the good ones; olive, sesame and sunflower are all good options. Olive oil is packed with omega-3 fatty acids which are very heart friendly. Animal fat that is all animal products, except fish and seafood, is the bad fat. You can eat it; just make sure it’s in moderation. On a daily basis you need to have more of the good stuff; fish, tuna, seafood, salmon, olive oil and nuts, (which are relatively high in fat, but really good fat) are all great choices. Eating less than 30% of your calories a day from fat will help in satiety as it triggers a hormone called “CCK.” This slows down the digestion of food helping you to feel full for longer. Fat also adds flavour and so makes food taste nicer, which may help you stick to a nutrition programme.
Avoid falling into the trap of high protein, low carbs. If you eat a high protein diet and your protein is predominantly coming from meat, you will have a very high saturated fat (the bad fat), on a daily basis. Saturated fat is a big factor in cardio heart disease and so moderation should be exercised. If you are not getting enough protein, you will need to increase your intake, but eating more than 25% of your total daily caloric intake or over 1.5g/kg body weight, may actually stop you losing body fat. If the body cannot utilise all the protein in the body, it will simply store it as fat. Another important factor is the extra work on the liver, which is also used for fat metabolism; if it is working over-time on filtering protein, it cannot do its job on metabolising fat efficiently.
As for exercise – keep moving! Basic recommendations from ACSM and AHA, (AmericanCollege of Sports Medicine and American Heart Association), for healthy adults under age 65 are
Moderately intense cardio 30 minutes a day, 5-days a week or
Vigorously intense cardio 20 minutes a day, 3-days a week plus
8 -10 strength-training exercises
8 – 12 repetitions of each exercise. Twice a week.
Moderate-intensity physical activity: working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat, yet still being able to carry on a conversation. This recommendation is for the average healthy adult to maintain health and reduce the risk of chronic disease. For
weight loss 60 – 90 minutes of physical activity a day, all or most days of the week is recommended. That does not mean you have to running on a treadmill, you can do whatever gets you breaking a sweat and heart rate higher. Just don’t forget to lift weights at least twice a week – weights not only increase bone density, but to increase your muscle mass, which is a great fat burning furnace.
So, there is the recipe for success. If you are a gym member, do yourself a favour and get some professional help. Book a session with a personal trainer and a consultation with a nutritionist. They will be sure to get you on the fast track to success. If you don’t have access to a trainer and nutritionist, take my advice; move as much as possible – walk the track, climb the stairs, dance like a lunatic in your bedroom if necessary! And, eat breakfast (it really is the most important meal of the day), and then continue eating every three to four hours throughout the day.
Lastly have fun! Remember, it’s all about the journey, not the destination. Recruit a friend; having someone to share an experience with is always a motivator and there’s always someone to share to share dessert with if you really can’t resist – just once in a while.