The summer is coming and as a working dancer and personal trainer, the question I get asked the most from friends, family and work colleagues is “How do I get fit for the summer?” Now I will be the first to tell you that there is no quick fix for losing weight and getting in shape unless you are already fit and active. If you have read somewhere that it’s possible to lose over 10lbs in 2 weeks by eating/drinking some kind of miracle food, odds are that it’s not natural and your new found weight loss won’t be sustainable. Instead it will leave you feeling constantly hungry, a total grump to be around and fighting the urge to eat your weight in chocolate every evening.
So instead I am going to give you some advice on how to create habits that are easily achievable and simple for you to fit into your existing lifestyle. I want to add that this is advice that I follow and lots of evidence can be found to support them, however it is still just my opinion.
Sleep is the bodies time to re-energise and restore itself at the end of the day, it’s importance has been proven in many studies over the years, showing that a lack of sleep over long periods of time can have major effects on the body. This can be anything and everything from brain function to body weight, and the correlation between lack of sleep and weight gain has been documented for many years.
The simple facts are that when you haven’t had enough sleep, you don’t have the motivation or energy to exercise or do anything productive. I know that I also crave sweet and fatty foods, neither of which are good when you are trying to get that beach ready body. We have all had that day after a late night and less then 5hrs sleep, you stumble through the day in a fog of coffee, chocolate and bread, counting down the minutes until you can be back in your Pj’s. On the other hand i’m sure you have also experienced that morning after 9 hours sleep where you literally bounce out of bed ready to take on the day full of energy and a new found inspiration to be productive. The choice is yours …
Eat, Eat, Eat, Breakfast
This is something that you are sure to have heard, but may often be guilty of ignoring due to a busy work and family life, however it IS the most important meal of the day. What we eat for breakfast can really determine our food choices throughout the day and so you need to make sure you are eating something that has nutritional value.
The way I see it is you wouldn’t start a 4hr drive with only a quarter of petrol in the tank, so why do the same to your body? I know that some people aren’t a fan of eating in the morning and if you are one of those people then make a smoothie, and if you don’t have time in the morning, make it the night before whilst you make dinner. There is literally no excuse! I make smoothies as I am out the door by 6:30am most mornings and would rather have an extra 10 minutes sleep then sit down and eat breakfast. Instead I make a quick smoothie the night before and drink it on the train as I head to work. This prevents me from having that mid morning craving for a croissant and that lunch time hankering for burger and fries.
Always Take The Stairs
So many people I speak to really want to start getting into exercise around this time, which is a great thing, however they often find excuses telling me about all these different obstacles that are preventing them. It’s too expensive to join the gym, I just don’t have time after or before work, I don’t know what type of workout I need to do, I still need to buy workout gear. All it really comes down to is you can’t be bothered to make a change to your current routine, because it’s too much effort. If this is you, I say don’t … Just improve your current routine.
Many of those reading this will live in cities and constantly find yourself on public transport, I am on the tube up to 8 times per day and have learnt about the free travel gym. If you are changing tube trains to go one stop, don’t! Get off, get outside, and walk the final bit, chances are it will probably take less time by the time you would have waited for your connecting train. When taking the escalators, walk! Don’t be one of the people being carried upstairs, instead be glad that you have working and able legs and use them, climb the stairs, jog them if you are feeling particularly energetic.
Stand up, when you get on the train, don’t just jump into the first seat available, stay standing and try and keep your balance by not holding on whilst the train is moving. This is a great way to build up core stability in your whole body, just make sure you can grab hold of something if/when you need to, no one wants you bumping in to them.
Drink, Drink, Drink … Water!
I was told this little fact many years ago, a lot of the time when we think we are hungry, we are actually thirsty but our minds can’t distinguish the difference and habit takes over, so you should always drink a glass of water first to be sure.
Our bodies are also 75% water so odds are it’s pretty important to keep it topped up, you will also find that keeping hydrated helps to improve sleep, clear skin and can aid weight loss. Basically you can’t get too much of the stuff, so carry around a bottle with you and make sure you have to refill it at least twice per day.
Don’t Give Up!
When trying to achieve any kind of fitness or health goal it’s easy for us to start with the greatest of intentions and then become deflated when we don’t see any changes for ourselves. This is the most important moment of any goal, this is when you have to change your mentality from where it was to something new. I was recently told about the term ‘Catastrophic Thinking’, it describes that moment when you feel like you failed at a goal because of one small hiccup. When you set yourself a task like giving up sugar and after days/weeks of doing really well, you finally give in to one small chocolate and then you start to think you have failed and before you know it you’ve eaten the entire box.
It is human nature to judge, but we are often our own harshest critics, this can damage our chances of ever reaching our goals leading to a self fulfilling prophecy. So change the mental record and take pride everyday in the small achievements and before you know it you may even find yourself signing up for that gym membership or joining a sports team.