Summer is coming upon us and that means something different for each of. If you are a big fan of the open water circuit and/or an avid triathlete getting ready for your best season ever, summer means it is the time for you to be in your best level of fitness. For others, summer means relaxation, vacation time, just looking for your “beach ready” body.
With your own goal in mind, here are a few tips to get in shape for summer the healthy way (*):
- Avoid falling into the “quick fix” trap but make small changes CONSISTENTLY. Ignore the hype and get slowly into shape. If a program offers “instant” results – i.e. 30 days or less, it is probably nonsense and may be unhealthy. Those kinds of diets might deprive your body of essential nutrients in favor of dropping pounds, and can be detrimental to your level of performance. A too strong workout regimen is not sustainable in the long term. Think small but be consistent such as adding a 30 sec plank, or a 10 min walk or eating an apple instead of a donut. Be creative.
- Get off the scale. The problem with the scale is that it can lie, it does not measure the muscle gain versus the fat loss. Better ways to assess your results are, for example, laps swum at workout, number of fitness classes or workouts attended, healthy meals prepared, fruits and vegetables consumed, how your clothes fit, your energy level and so on.
- Stop comparing yourself to other people. Everyone is different. Bodies come in all shapes and sizes, with different metabolic rates, body fat percentage and capabilities. Only judge your own progress. If you are doing better than last month then you are doing something right.
- Get your heart pumping. Regular exercise helps you achieve both physical and mental wellness. Make movement part of your life. Vary your cardio training with low, moderate and high intensities. Swim fast and slow, mix up your sets, add different strokes.
- Build lean muscle and improve performance with strength training. It gives your metabolism a major boost, allowing you to burn more calories and helping you to maintain your weight goal over a long period of time. It will improve performance, endurance and energy level. However, make sure you get guidance from a fitness professional before using weight equipment in order to avoid injuries and overuse.
- Find your team. A good support system is vital to keep you going long term. But find the right people to help you. A swim team and/or a workout partner are your best bet to reach your goal and support you along the way.
- Don’t diet, just eat healthy. If you go on a diet, you will eventually have to go off a diet. Learn to nourish your body. Educate yourself about nutrition and maybe your own specific needs. It is worth investing time in. It will help you to eat healthy and to remain fit in all the seasons and in the long run.
- Mix it up. After doing the same routine over and over, your body adapts, and you burn fewer calories, and you place stress on the same muscles and joints which may create injuries. So mix it up: strokes, energy level, cross training. Not only will you see better results with a varied plan, it might also help you stick with it at the end.
- Stop criticizing your body. If you continue to beat yourself up over your imperfections, you will never be happy with yourself. Learn to be comfortable and confident in your body.
- Focus on how your life feels. A healthy lifestyle will make you feel better all around. If your perspective is to focus on how you feel more than how you look, you have a much better chance of sticking with your goals and being healthy long term, which should be the ultimate goal of everybody. Health is your biggest asset, you cannot enjoy life without it. So preserve it.
With these tips in mind, enjoy your summer, good luck in reaching your goals: open water races, triathlons, swim meets, fitness challenges, travels, family adventures or anything you have set your mind in achieving. Feel good about yourself and stay fit.
(*) These tips have been inspired by an article written by Caroline Jordan who is a wellness and fitness coach living in California and writing for various fitness magazines.