In an ideal world, we would all maintain our dream physique year round, but that’s not the reality for everyone. Some people may actively try to add on muscle mass (which inevitably comes with fat tissue) during the winter months and want to reveal their hard-earned muscle in the summer. Others find that their training routine takes a backseat in the winter due to injury, health issues, work, or family commitments and they want to get back in shape. Many people prefer to sport a leaner physique during the summer simply because they’ll be wearing less clothes. And even those in great shape year round may prefer to peak over the summer months and enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle during the winter. As we enter Spring and kick into Summer, whatever your training goals and routine might be, here are my ways to better stay on track:
Whatever your reason for wanting to take your physique to the next level, it’s important to be honest with yourself about your current starting point and what goals are realistic given that we’re already in May. For example, you probably won’t be able to lose 50 pounds, but you can still get started towards your goals now so it’s a non-issue for next year. You can make huge strides starting now by working during the warm months and getting closer to your goal throughout the summer. If you aren’t realistic you will get easily discouraged.
We all know the basic rule: If you’re expending more than you’re taking in, you’re going to lose weight. You can create that deficit with a combination of nutrition and training. One to two pounds of fat loss weekly is a realistic, attainable, and healthy pace to drop weight for most people. Below are ten tips to help you reach your goal.
EMPHASIZE COMPOUND LIFTS
Compound exercises use more than one joint and one muscle group at a time. Examples include squats and deadlifts. They burn more calories than isolation exercises do with a greater boost in metabolism.
LIFT REAL WEIGHT
The last few reps of your sets need to be a struggle. If you get to the end of your set and feel like you can perform more repetitions, then increase the weight on your following set. You need to challenge your body to change it.
PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY
When you’re at the gym, you’re there to work out and get the job done. Keep your focus on and your break times appropriate by keeping your phone in your locker. If you have an hour to work out and you’re texting or scrolling through social media, you may find that you run out of time to complete your sets and/or cardio.
SHUT DOWN THE TALKER
The talker is often a big issue at the gym and can be a huge obstacle between you and your goals. It’s my personal pet peeve. If you have limited time in the gym (as most of us do) and you see Chatty Cathy coming over, put your headphones in or politely say that you’re low on time. Be assertive and speak up for yourself. Otherwise, the problem will continue or even get worse.
GET ENOUGH SLEEP
If you’re a busy professional, you may need to schedule sleep in like a meeting to stick with it. Not only does this make adhering to your nutrition plan easier by keeping appetite and cravings in check, but it also aids your workout performance and recovery.
DON’T BUY WHAT YOU DON’T WANT TO EAT
If you’re trying to lose weight, keep junk out of the house. Willpower is finite. Set yourself up for success by keeping your fridge and pantry stocked with items on your meal plan. If you don’t buy it and bring it home, it’s simply not there for you to eat.
People find endless ways to rationalize and have junk in the house. Just because your favorite tub of ice cream is on sale doesn’t mean you have to buy it. Look at it this way: Not buying the ice cream is cheaper than the sale price. If you’re given a box of chocolates, bring them into your workplace and leave them for the staff there. Give them to your friends and family. Donate them. You don’t need to keep them. Create an environment that’s conducive to your goals.
GET RID OF THE SHAKES
It’s very important to keep your protein high to help spare muscle while trying to lose weight, and you want it coming from whole food sources whenever possible. Whole foods are much more filling than protein powder, making adhering to your calorie/macro targets an easier and more comfortable process. For example, if you normally get your protein from a shake for breakfast, switch that out for an egg white omelet.
Don’t confuse losing water weight with losing fat. When we’re dehydrated, losing body fat actually becomes more difficult. We often mistake thirst for hunger and end up consuming more fuel than intended. Workout performance and endurance decreases so we burn less calories and our metabolism slows down. So, stay hydrated!
COOK AT HOME
Preparing your meals at home is one of the easiest ways to lose weight. Ditch the restaurant meals and take-out. By cooking at home, you have full control over portion sizes, ingredients, and cooking methods. Save the restaurants for special nights out versus ordering out every night after work. Many people find that doing a large prep one to two times a week is ideal. Not only do you save on calories, but you’ll also save time and money.
INCREASE NEAT (NON-EXERCISE ACTIVITY THERMOGENESIS)
Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) can help maximize total energy being used which can really add up over time. Plus, it’s easy to do. Start taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work. When you’re shopping, park your car the farthest away from the entrance in the lot. Instead of taking the metro, ride your bike to work. There are endless ways to incorporate activity like this into our daily lifestyle.
Stop procrastinating and get started now! No matter how far off your goals may seem from your current starting point, you can achieve them with a well laid out nutrition and training plan. Time will pass whether you’re working or not, so start today and be one day closer to feeling and looking your best.
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