As summer approaches, your mind may turn towards carefree days spent at the beach…and whether or not you can fit into that sweet bikini you bought last August.
Don’t worry! Here are seven ways to get your body ready for the beach.
Adopt a Healthy Diet
What you eat will greatly affect not only how you feel but also how you look.
Cellulite, which occurs when fat cells push through the skin’s connective tissue, is a beach body bummer. Much of your skin tissue consists of a protein calledcollagen; AFPA recommends adding flaxseeds as well as dark berries (blueberries and blackberries, for example) to your diet to aid in collagen production. Collagen supplements are also available; look for a product that provides hydrolyzed peptides.
When it comes to dropping pounds, “eat protein with every meal,” advisesAmerican Fitness Professionals and Associates (AFPA), a group that certifies trainers and other professionals. “Spreading your protein intake across all three meals can aid in fat loss.”
To supercharge your meals with extra nutrition, consider juicing. “Juice is rich in essential micronutrients—like vitamins, minerals and antioxidants—that help the body function optimally,” says Megan Roosevelt, RD author ofThe 5-Day Juicing Diet (Rockridge Press).
Commonly juiced fruits and vegetables include apples, beets, berries, cabbage, carrots, celery, cucumbers, leafy greens, lemons, parsley, pineapple and tomatoes.
Cutting down on snacks is a good idea. “A few extra calories here and there add up quickly and can cause you to overeat unintentionally,” says AFPA. “It is much easier to keep track of your consumption if you have distinct meal times.”
The group suggests also taking it easy on the alcohol, noting, “With every sip of alcohol, you are ingesting unnecessary calories. Plus, alcohol tends to lower our inhibitions and make us less likely to stick to our diets.”
Address Any Food Reactions
Intolerance and sensitivities to certain foods, along with food allergies, can cause intestinal discomfort as well as unwanted weight gain.
“Lactose intolerance often contributes to bloating,” says Clifford Bassett, MD, of theAmerican College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. People with lactose intolerance are unable to fully digest the milk sugar (lactose) in dairy products due to deficiency oflactase, the enzyme responsible for lactose digestion.
A high-sodium diet can also cause bloating. “Avoid high-sodium packaged foods that can trigger water retention,” says AFPA. “To prevent water retention, eat high-potassium fruits like bananas, avocados, kiwis and oranges. The best veggies for reducing bloat are asparagus and cucumbers.”
Food allergies differ from intolerances or sensitivities in that allergies create an immune-system reaction in response to food; sensitivities to food do not. Wheat is a common troublemaker; avoiding wheat altogether may help you manage your weight more easily.
See your primary care practitioner or an allergist if you suspect a food sensitivity or allergy, suggests Bassett.
Create a Beach-Body Fitness Plan
Exercise is crucial to creating a shredded beach body…but the idea is to find the biggest payoff in benefits versus time spent.
The secret? Interval work, also calledhigh-intensity interval training (HIIT); it alternates short bursts of intense activity (enough to get your heart really pumping) with recovery periods.
HIIT gives you a good calorie burn per workout, which can run between 10 and 30 minutes a session. Another advantage is that you can pick the intense activity—cycling, sprinting, what-have-you—and the "rest" activity, such as jogging, walking or slow cycling.
Jumping rope offers intense calorie burn: After a three-minute warmup, do full jumps (both feet off the floor simultaneously) before a cooldown period. Try starting with 10 to 15 jumps three times a week, increasing to 100 per session over time.
In addition to the aerobic exercise provided by HIIT and jumping rope, you should also engage in resistance training three times a week.
Hitting the weights not only strengthens and sculpts your muscles; it also increases yourresting metabolic rate, or how many calories your body burns at rest. And while weight lifting is what most people think of when you say "resistance training," that effort can come from resistance bands—basically oversized rubber bands—or even your own body weight.
Your resistance work should include exercises that target specific parts of the body.
For example, “a strong, firm core is on everybody's beach body checklist,” according to the AFPA. The group recommends “selecting exercises that require extra core strength: Choose pushups instead of the bench press, train your lower body with the front squat and deadlifts, and replace cable rows with body weight rows.”
Another beach body secret? “What most people do not realize is that strong, well-developed upper back muscles will make the waist look smaller and more defined,” says AFPA. “Start sculpting the upper back by adding bent-over rows to your training program.”
Finally, not all exercise needs to come from a fitness routine.
“You should pay attention to what you do outside of the gym,” advises AFPA. “Simple changes like using the stairs, walking for relaxation instead of channel surfing and being active on the weekends can make a big difference.”
Get More Sleep and Reduce Stress Levels
Sticking to a proper program of diet and exercise is almost impossible if you don’t get enough sleep.
"A hormone released by the GI tract calledghrelin stimulates feelings of hunger; levels increase when you’re sleep deprived," says sleep medicine specialistAllen Towfigh, MD. Meanwhile, another hormone calledleptin is released by fat cells and signals our bodies to stop eating; leptin levels are suppressed when you’re short on sleep.
In addition to maintaining a regular sleep/wake schedule throughout the week and keeping your bedroom dark and quiet, Towfigh suggests that if “you still feel tired in the mornings, push up your bedtime by 15- or 30-minute increments.”
Chronic stress can make it difficult to sleep while also leading to increased appetite, especially a craving for sweets. Exercise is a tried-and-true stress reduction method, as are practices such as meditation, journaling, yoga and prayer.
Set Goals and Find Support
The best way to get the beach body you want is by working your way towards a goal. Many people use the SMART system of setting goals that are:
You can learn more about goal-settinghere.
To make things easier, break your goals down into more manageable mini-goals. Examples include eating an extra serving of vegetables each day or ordering side salads instead of starches such as french fries.
Attaining goals is easier if you buddy up with someone.
“Find a friend, family member or support group you can connect with on a regular basis,” advisesWebMD. “Studies show people who are connected with others, whether it's in person or online, do better than dieters who try to go it alone.”
Take a Mental Approach to a Better Body
Sometimes your mind can sabotage your efforts to get the body you want by engages in all-or-nothing thinking, such as when you opt for a candy bar instead of an apple one afternoon…and then decide that you’ve failed completely, leading you to follow the candy bar with a cookie and a bag of chips.
Your best best is to replace troubling thoughts such as “I’m so out of shape” with “phrases such as ‘my body is strong,’ ‘I am enough’ or ‘I have come a long way.” You can also derail self-judgemental thinking by saying “stop!” out loud or counting slowly to 100—anything that allows the negative thought to simply subside and pass.
Some people find visualization helpful: “Visualize your future self and think of how good you'll look and feel without the extra pounds,” says WebMD. Download an app, or create flash cards or a visualization board with goals and/or inspiring words and images.
If you’re still having trouble with poor impulse control and other diet killers, try an approach calledmindful eating.
When eating with intention, you pay full attention to your meal—savoring its aromas and flavors—without distractions. You eat slowly and thoughtfully; as WebMD puts it, “Mindful eating is an experience, not a race.”
You can learn more about mindful eatinghere.
Improve Your Posture
Finally, carrying yourself in a slouch significantly affects your appearance. AFPA says, “It is hard to show off an impressive beach body if your posture is pathetic.”
Bad posture can also throw your body out of whack, resulting in reduced flexibility, more joint pain and muscle problems.
The solution? Sit up straight and walk tall!
The information in this blog is provided for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for consultation with a doctor or qualified healthcare professional. Consultation with a doctor or qualified healthcare practitioner is strongly advised, before starting any regimen of supplementation, a change in diet or any exercise routine. Individuals who engage in supplementation to promote health, address conditions or support any structure or function of the body assume all risks. Women who are pregnant, especially, should seek the advice of a medical doctor before taking any dietary supplement and before starting any change in diet or lifestyle. Descriptions of herbs, vitamins, nutrients or any ingredients are not recommendations to take our products or those of any other company. We are not doctors or primary-source science researchers. Instead, we defer to the findings of scientific experts who conduct studies, as well as those who compile and publish scientific literature on the potential health benefits of nutrients, herbs, spices, vitamins or minerals. We cannot guarantee that any individual will experience any of the health benefits associated with the nutrients described. Natural Organics will not be held liable for any injuries, damages, hinderances or negative effects resulting from any reliance on the information presented, nor will Natural Organics be held accountable for any inaccuracy, miscalculation or error in the scientific literature upon which the information provided is based.
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