When the warmer days start, everyone begins buzzing about their newest superfood weight loss drink or their favorite get slim quick scheme, most of which will last about 5 hours. All of which makes me skeptical, disappointed, and wondering what happens after those few hours.
Normally I advocate a holistic and comprehensive approach to getting fit, looking good, and feeling confident in your body, but as summer approaches there seems to be a heightened need to tighten up, and to do it quicker. I feel it. Although I live a rather health-conscious lifestyle, love my body, and take (mostly) good care of it year round, with the sun getting more intense, I’m itching for a more toned look, too. That, and I have a beach holiday booked for 2 months from now.
With that in mind, I’ve kicked my summer sculpting plan into high gear. And in case you want to do the same, here are my
6 Tips to Get Lean for Summer
M & M
No, not the candy! Meditation and mindset. To change your habits, to follow through on your goals, to do what needs to be done day after day, you must have awareness. Awareness comes from meditating. Meditation also sets the foundation for the right mindset: the mindset of success, of visualizing the way you want to look, and of recognizing that what you do today, tomorrow, and next week affects how you look and feel 2 weeks (even 2 months) from now. Meditation also help you be at peace with yourself no matter your size or intended destination, and perhaps more importantly it helps reduce stress so you don’t get fed up, throw in the towel, and binge on an entire cake.
I like guided meditations. If I’m in a leaning out phase, I look for meditations about self-love, body awareness, and visualizations of weight loss. Some narrators to look for include: Jon Gabriel, Marianne Williamson, Jena la Flamme, and Christie Marie Sheldon.
Cut the Junk
Perhaps this is presumptuous, but I assume if you want to look your best all the time, you’ve already cut back on your intake of processed foods including everything white: sugar, flour, cereals, baked goods, candy, chips, etc. So the next step is to go deeper: read more labels to look for hidden sugars (salad dressing, protein powders, energy bars, drinks), and become more conscious of your sources of carbohydrates. Simple starches, too many starches, and too frequent starches get stored as fat, usually on the belly. Same with sugar; yes, even that from excess fruit consumption. The alcohol, too, has to go. Depending how soon you’re intending to look beach-ready, limit it to 1-2 alcoholic beverages a week.
If I find myself on a slippery slope of eating excess carbs or craving sweets, I institute the 3-day rule: no sweets for 3 days, no matter what. These days can be temptingly tough, which is why I keep Belight Tea front and center. In fact, I use the box to hide the sweets in the cabinet–LOL–it makes me grab a cup of tea first. (Here are few other ideas for curbing cravings and avoiding late-night eating.) Then, after the 3 days, for me, at least, the cravings are gone and it isn’t such a struggle. As long as you’re cutting all the junk out, go ahead and eat more greens. Can’t hurt, right?
Up your Protein
Protein is one of the most satiating foods–keeping you full the longest. It also takes the most energy for your body to digest it, ie you’re burning calories just to make it usable in your body. Protein is the building block of muscles–you want to look toned and have some muscle definition, right? Plus, retaining muscle (while dropping fat) helps to keep your metabolism up. Protein has a much more moderate affect on blood sugar than do carbohydrates, meaning you’re not going to be quickly storing a lot of it as fat, but it will provide sustained energy for a longer period of time.
Research also correlates high protein consumption to weight loss, so aim to consume .5 to 1 gram per pound of body weight daily. If you’re going to use a protein powder supplement, choose wisely, avoid soy, and watch out for hidden sugars. I make sure to have a real-food source of protein with every meal: eggs, bacon, or meat (uncured, pastured, and grass-fed whenever possible).
Commit to Exercise
If you haven’t been exercising, now is the time to make the commitment. If you’ve been slacking or half-assin it on your workout, now’s the time to take it up a notch. Two styles of exercise are going to produce the most results in the shortest amount of time: HIIT and heavy weights. HIIT or High-Intensity Interval Training is an ultra quick fat-blasting workout. 15-30 minutes of intense activity will give you the same cardio results as 60-90 minutes of slowpoke cardio. Plus it’ll burn more fat during the workout, and more importantly, keep your burning fat for up to 36 hours after the workout. Look up Tabata for timing and ideas for moves.
Lifting heavy weights might seem like the antithesis of what you’re looking for to slim down for summer, but you’ve been misled. First, lifting weights while dropping pounds preserves lean muscle mass so your metabolism doesn’t drop off a cliff. Second, lean muscle tissue is what keeps your calorie-burn up all throughout the day and even while you sleep (excess fat just weighs you down). Third, no one wants the skinny-fat look. A lean, toned body with defined muscles is way more attractive. And better for playing on the beach–swimming, volleyball, standup paddleboard, anyone? Fourth, being fit and toned is “in” right now. #Fitspo Oh, and its healthier, and it makes keeping your weight down easier.
Make Drinks Work for You
First thing in the morning create your own detox drink: warm water with lemon, cayenne, and a bit of raw, local honey. That’ll clear out your gallbladder and digestive track, fire up your metabolism, and settle your allergies. Plus, as long as you’re judicious with the honey, it’s next to no calories. Next, start drinking tea. Belight tea is a way smarter choice than snacking, less calories than kombucha, and curbs cravings more than water. After meals look for pu-erh tea, which settles digestion and contains enzymes to inhibit fat storage. Also 0 calories. (#DidYouKnow Belight Tea’s main ingredient is Pu-erh.) Sparkling water has fewer calories and less sugar than soda or juice. The right herbal infusions can help relax you and put you to sleep faster–ahh, deep, restful sleep.
Research has show time and time again that high quality, adequate nightly sleep increases weight loss. It seems to work through multiple mechanisms. One, if you’re well-rested, your willpower is stronger and decision-making better so you’re less likely to ‘fall off the wagon.’ Two, adequate sleep means better energy levels so you don’t need sugar, caffeine, constant snacking or some other stimulant to keep you alert and awake. Third, the body does its repair and reset during deep sleep and this may include balancing insulin, leptin, and ghrelin, key hormones that affect hunger, satiety, and energy usage. There could also be other mechanisms at play, so get to bed. Most healing tradition recommend falling asleep by 10 or 11pm to maximize deep sleep, thereby optimizing the body’s repair efforts.
There you have it, my 6 steps to go from healthy, winter curves to a supercharged rockin’ bikini figure by summer. Let me know in the comments below, what else you do to transition from spring to summer and get in shape for beach season.