Spring is here and along with warmer weather and flowers blooming, I see an onsalught of commercials and social media posts all focusing on weight loss in preparation of summer. It’s a silly marketing ploy that so many fall prey to, you know, “bikini season” and “summer ready body” kind of stuff.
It makes me sad because as you know if you’ve read my blog for any period of time to me fitness is a life-long pursuit to be practiced daily, in moderation, so that life can be lived to it’s fullest. I also strongly advocate that we ALL realize and accept that every BODY is different and what is a sign of beauty or sex appeal today is likely the antithesis of tomorrow, not to mention not everyone’s taste.
So for those of you getting sucked in to the taunting that your summer life just wont be satisfying unless you transform your body right now, I offer these gentle reminders to love yourself, not give up or give in, but be smart about how you prepare for summer.
DO NOT DIET
Dieting simply doesn’t work and it’s a waste of your time and money. Stop eating strange concoctions or restricting calories or fats or sugars. You have probably learned by now that the body fat simply returns once your old way of eating is resumed. Instead, eat 6 small meals every day, composed of healthy lean protein, veggies, fruits, grains, and fats, allow yourself a day or two of higher caloric meals or drinks and remember daily that you love your body and care about what you put inside of it.
VARIETY IS KEY
For those of you who do not love time spent in a gym or in front of a video or class – just remember that an hour here and an hour there WILL make a huge difference, and if you keep your workouts reasonably intense while maintaining a variety of styles, you will see results which in turn will stop making it seem like such drudgery. The key is to keep boredom at bay while maintaining progress. Start by working out 2-3 times a week with weights (ideally with a plan created by a trainer like me), each workout being different from the last. Then add in some fun outdoor activities on the weekends, maybe a dance or body pump class with a friend in the evenings, and/or a DVD at home once in a while. Variety will keep you entertained, and as you see results you will need far less convincing to stay diligent.
REMEMBER TO REST AND SLEEP
Taking a day every 4-5 days to allow your muscles and cardio system to rest is hugely beneficial to your metabolic system becoming more efficient and thereby burning more fat. Sleep, likewise, is essential to the body recovering and allowing a change in composition (i.e., more lean muscle, less fat) to occur within (which then shows up on the outside). So tweak your schedule and make sure you’re getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Your body will thank you.
STOP STRESSFUL THINKING
Clearly stress is not good in any areas of your life, but it’s especially hard on the body. While you may not be able to reduce the stress of your circumstances, you can reduce the stress you place on your body when you fret over your physical condition. Negative thoughts about your body, and beating yourself up for being “fat” or “out of shape” will not help your body relax and embrace the change you seek to make. Emotional stress will also force your body to hold on to fat as fat is an insulator and protector of organs, and has hormonal properties which are ignited when under stress. So lighten up your thought process and your body may just lighten up as well.
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Now get ready to enjoy the warmer weather and the summer vacations, and by following my advice you’ll hopefully be in better shape AND happier at the same time.
It’s a well-known fact to those of us in the fitness profession that sleep is a key element in achievement of reducing fact in the body (“losing weight” as most of you refer to it). Unfortunately, this fact is little acknowledged, not to mention followed, by most people. Sleep is a commodity in our fast-paced, over-worked, over-committed society. While many of us can function quite well with little sleep (especially you Moms), the detrimental effects are huge, yet hugely ignored.
With too little sleep comes a myriad of issues ranging from depression, elevated stress levels on organs, higher blood pressure, reduced sex drive, inability to concentrate, and deteriorated memory, just to name a few. But the biggie is obesity. According to studies by medical professionals, people who sleep less than six hours a day were almost 30% more likely to become obese than those who slept seven to nine hours. Research has shown a direct link between sleep and the peptides that our brain stimulates to regulate appetite. Not only does sleep loss appear to stimulate appetite, it also stimulates cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods, especially at night when the body is less likely to burn those calories. Even kids are suffering from less sleep thus resulting in the increase of childhood obesity. The demands of school and after-school activities are leaving kids less time for sleep.
There is also a vicious cycle that occurs in obese people who suffer from sleep apnea. Even if they allow enough time to sleep, their sleep is disrupted multiple times each night which results in less quality sleep time. Thus their bodies retain more fat, increasing the sleep apnea, and the cycle continues until they are on assisted breathing devices. Sadly, I have a hard time convincing most people that if they follow my recommended course of exercise, healthy consistent nutrition, and proper sleep habits, they could find themselves off the breathing mask within months (and in many cases off their high blood pressure meds too)! But I have personally helped many clients to do just that.
So here are a few tips that can help improve the increase amount of time you sleep:
Prioritize: Make sleep as important as all the other responsibilities you have in your life. Schedule 8 hours of sleep just like you schedule everything from getting to work on time to getting to the gym (you do schedule your exercise time too, right?).
Decompress: Many of us need a little while to decompress before we can fall asleep. Schedule about 30-minutes prior to your targeted sleep time and do some yoga-like stretches, read a book, watch TV (as long as the show is not too dramatic or stimulating), or write in a journal (as noted below).
Journaling: If you’re like me, sometimes the issue with falling asleep (or staying asleep) is an over-active brain, sorting and re-sorting tasks or issues needing to be dealt with. If you spend a few minutes prior to sleep jotting down the tasks for the next day(s), or writing about issues weighing on you, or your day and feelings, the brain will relax and sleep will be easier.
Time your Nutrition: You mustn’t got to bed hungry, but conversely, you don’t want to have just finished a meal. Make sure your last meal or snack is at least one hour prior, but not more than two hours before bedtime.
It’s getting close to that “resolutions” time of year, I hope all of you seeking to change your body’s condition, add “getting more sleep” to your resolution of losing fat and getting into shape. It is essential to your success.