There’s nothing more humbling than putting on a bathing suit. If you’ve been living life to the fullest, there’s no hiding the evidence. On the other hand, if you’ve been exercising and watching your diet, there’s nothing more gratifying than seeing a slimmer, toner you in the mirror. So how do you get to that happy place—in time for summer? You start today. Make no excuses and you’ll have no regrets when you’re staring at your slim summer body in the mirror!
Check out 10 simple tips to get your summer body back and ready for bathing suit season:
1. Take a fitness class.
If you can’t remember how long you’ve been doing a particular exercise routine, your body may have plateaued, and it’ll be tough to keep losing weight. Whether it’s kickboxing, spin, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or a weight/cardio combo, a fitness class can challenge your body, promote change, and give you a chance to develop some camaraderie with fellow exercisers (and motivators). Can’t leave the house? Consider signing up for an online fitness class and get fit right in your own living room! “The human body is a master at adaption and adapting to a fitness routine is no different,” says NSCA Certified Personal Trainer Robert Dugan. “Most programs, either cardio or strength, should be changed every six weeks to keep plateauing at bay.”
2. Follow your heart.
South Beach Diet recommends at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. If you can’t spend one extra minute moving, you have to get your heart rate up quickly to make the most of your workout. Sweating is a good sign that you’re increasing your heart rate to a level that’s working your cardiovascular system, but using your heart rate as a guide is the best way to tell how hard you’re working. “In simple terms, fat is burned when your heart rate is at about 60% of your max heart rate (MHR),” says Dugan. “Cardiovascular endurance is achieved when you’re exercising close to 80% of your MHR. Depending on your fitness level, overall health and personal goals, keeping your heart rate between 60‒80% will give you the best results.”
3. Walk during lunch.
Not only can a 15-minute walk during your lunch hour give you energy to power through the afternoon, but walking can also increase your focus and overall mood, according to a 2017 study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. There’s also evidence that the effects of a walk may last into the evening, giving you focus to make dinner, help children with homework and perform other tasks that require energy and concentration. Best of all: Because you’re not sitting sedentary in your office chair for eight (or more) solid hours, you’re burning calories. Want to get your heart rate up a bit before you start walking? Walk up and down a flight of stairs or do some jumping jacks. Obviously, you’ll need to keep walking shoes in your desk or car!
4. Don’t skip meals.
It’s tempting to skip a meal to drop weight quickly. You think: “The less I eat, the more weight I’ll lose.” But in reality, skipping meals often predicts future weight gain and obesity. It can also make you feel sick, crave junk food and less likely to exercise. Research shows that people get full by the amount of food they eat, not the number of calories they take in, says the CDC. Rather than skipping meals to cut calories, simply lower the amount of fat or increase the amount of fiber-rich ingredients you eat and you’ll lose weight.
5. Eat and drink frequently.
South Beach Diet recommends eating five or six times a day to keep your energy levels up, prevent hunger and discourage overeating during the main meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Take a stash of healthy, low-sugar snacks with you to work. Keep a few beef sticks in the car. Throw a snack bar in your purse or backpack before leaving home every day. Whenever you see or smell something tempting, you can fight that craving with an approved food. Drinking at least 64 ounces of water a day also helps you stay full and reduces water retention, which is especially helpful during bathing suit season.
6. Up your non-starchy veggies.
Broccoli. Kale. Cauliflower. Asparagus. Veggies like these are true superheroes. They’re vitamin-rich. They’re low in calories. And they’re full of fiber, which keeps you feeling full. On South Beach Diet, we recommend you eat at least five servings of veggies each day. When you meet or exceed that recommendation—and exercise—you’ll be burning calories (and fat!) quickly, helping you reach that goal weight sooner.
7. Lay off the salt.
Your body tends to hold onto fluids when you eat foods high in sodium, according to the Cleveland Clinic. When an itsy, bitsy, teeny, weenie bikini (or even a one-piece!) is staring you in the face, you can’t be bloated. The next time you grab your favorite food off the grocery store shelf, read the nutrition label. Salt hides in many foods—particularly processed choices. Seek out lower-sodium alternatives whenever possible and try seasoning foods with herbs, spices and lemon or lime juice.
8. Stop drinking soda.
Carbonated beverages also cause bloating because they deposit millions of pockets of carbon gas right into your stomach and digestive tract. Plus, you also tend to swallow excess air when drinking soda—especially if you do it with a straw, suggests a 2011 study published in Gastroenterology & Hepatology. A simple beverage swap can really help here. Water is best, but something like green tea is okay, too. Just don’t use artificial sweeteners as they, too, can cause bloat.
9. Use Mirror Motivation.
Embrace the humbleness! You’re more likely to stick to your summer body goals if you regularly remind yourself of what you’re trying to achieve. If necessary, try your bathing suit on every week to see how you’re doing. But don’t set yourself up for failure: Even the most dedicated dieters won’t see a change in just a few days. Whatever you do, don’t fall for a diet or cleanse that promises immediate results: The results are often short-lived and don’t promote weight loss in a healthy and balanced way. On South Beach Diet, you’ll start seeing real results in two to three weeks.
10. Go to Sleep.
In the March 2016 issue of Sleep, researchers reported that sleep-deprived people seem to consume more of unhealthier foods—possibly because they’re not able to fight unhealthy cravings. Maintaining a healthy sleep schedule helps the body recharge and also helps prepare you for the day ahead energy-wise. You can up the energy ante by partaking in early morning exercise (get outside during those summer months!), which has been proven to increase energy levels and focus throughout the day.