What's the one thing that's harder than keeping up your tan during the summer?
It's getting that beach body that you long for, isn't it?
Every New Year, gym memberships spike and we flock in our thousands to fitness classes and kickstart diets with the aim of attaining that ideal physique that you dream of.
We've put together a list of 7 simple steps to help you get there.
1. Replace Juice with Water
This is the easiest step of them all! And the perks are endless...
First of all, it's summer - hydration is so important in spells of hot weather. Dehydration can cause a lot of subtle irritations in our day-to-day lives. Nothing can hydrate you as well water can and that's why it's important to be drinking as much as you can throughout the day.
How often do you say 'I feel tired all the time!'? It's probably dehydration.
More importantly for getting into shape for summer though, ditching liquid calories will do your body a power of good and will really help you maintain that tone you've been chasing in the gym.
When your kidneys aren't hydrated properly, the responsibility for removing toxins falls on your liver. This leads to the liver storing fat because the liver is doing the job of your kidneys instead of metabolising fat into energy.
I know it's really simple, and if you've been in the gym recently you've probably been doing some. But I can't emphasise enough, just how powerful this compound exercise is.
Not only will they tone your legs - hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, glutes - they will also strengthen bone density and boost muscle growth throughout your body.
A 2012 study on the impact of the functional movement of squats with whole-body vibration training on elderly individuals with osteoarthritis found that they improved pain, balance and inflammation.
3. Add to Your Diet
Tips for getting into shape often seem so unappealing because the emphasis is always on less. Cut back on this, don't eat that etc, etc. However, it's also important to add the right things to your diet and this doesn't have to always be the really healthy things that don't taste good.
This is something that dietician and blogger Anne Mauney from fANNEtasticfood.com highlighted to us when we asked her for advice about getting in shape for summer:
"Rather than thinking about what to subtract from your diet - which isn't sustainable long term, or very fun! - consider what you can add to improve your health. For example - add more protein to breakfast to make it more satisfying. Or add more veggies to your meals to amp up the nutrition and make them more filling."
This can be really simple like adding nuts, seeds and fruit to your porridge, or swapping that morning coffee cup for a revitalising smoothie - you can even add some yogurt for a little extra protein boost.
4. Sleep Well
Sleep deprivation is a sure fire way to disrupt your hormones, moods and increase your appetite.
We all want to make the most of the long summer nights but make sure you don't get into a routine of inconsistent sleep patterns because that won't help you in any way, shape or form.
There are also countless scientific studies which have proven the link between sleep deprivation and increased appetite, like this 2013 study by SM Greer which concluded:
"Sleep deprivation lead to marked decreases in the anterior cingulate, left lateral orbital frontal cortex and anterior insula reactivity to food desirability"
For the non-scientists amongst us - less sleep makes you eat more.
5. Get NEAT-er
Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) is the phrase used to describe all other activities outside sleeping, eating and exercising. Increasing the energy expenditure in the rest of our daily actions can have a great impact of calorie burning.
It's easy to think that going to the gym 2-3 times per week and think that our work is done. However, 3 hours of activity out of 168 isn't going to magically give us our dream physique. That's where increasing your NEAT can act as a great supplement to your workouts.
Some simple ways to increase your energy expenditure and burn some extra calories:
- Walk to work (or get off at the next closest public transport stop)
- Clean the house
- Do some gardening
- Take regular breaks from sitting down
6. Go Plant-Based
If you're fed up with being stuck in the same old food routine, shake it up and revolutionise your diet by going plant-based.
Veganism is on the rise across the globe, with a 350% increase in the UK alone in the decade between 2006-2016. 20% of people under the age of 35 are said to have tried a vegan diet too. So it's clear that the trend of changing to a plant based is becoming ever more popular.
Adele, from whole foods blog everythingspeachy.co.uk, recommends a plant-based diet as her number one tip for getting healthy this summer:
"My number one tip for those looking to achieve better health this summer would be to cut out (or at least reduce) animal products, and adopt a predominantly wholefoods, plant-based diet.
Plant-based diets are so much higher in vitamins, minerals and fibre. By eating a diet based on fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, legumes, pulses, nuts and seeds, you'll find it easy to reach your ideal weight, and the need for calorie counting becomes redundant. It's also a delicious way to live!"
7. Plan & Set Goals
Set out what you're going to do and stick to the plan.
It's too easy to give up with your exercise program if you haven't planned it out.
And if you haven't set goals or deadlines, how are you going to know if anything you've done has been worthwhile?
Decide what your targets are and when you want to achieve them by, then work towards them and reward yourself at regular intervals.