As we bid adieu to the colder days and stow away our winter clothing, most of us turn our attention to the perennial pursuit of the elusive summer “beach body”. This may be partly because we can no longer rely on the extra layers of winter clothes to hide the fluff that we put on during the winter or the way we severely lost track, as it so often happens, of all the food we ate during the winter festivities. Either way, it’s time to get back into shape, and this year, do it the proper way. This year, instead of getting sucked into the vicious cycle that is crash-dieting and binge-eating, make way for a more sustainable fitness philosophy to not only help you reach your goals but surpass them.
Set yourself up for success from the get-go:
The number one rule to effectively get fit is to have a fixed goal in mind. And the first step towards setting a goal is to ascertain what it is one hopes and expects to achieve. In fitness terms this could mean running that 5k marathon, losing body fat, toning up, gaining muscle to chisel out your body or even focusing on strength and cranking out a 100 Kg deadlift.
However, it is imperative to establish an achievable target. The last thing one wants is to lose their incentive just because what they sought after was unattainable in the given time frame. It is pertinent to note here that this does not mean one should not push themselves: on the contrary, it is advised to set targets that inspire you to push your boundaries. To avoid the ‘lose 15 Kgs in 1-week’ fad, keep your objectives lofty but realistic, and watch yourself accomplish everything you set your mind to!
One step at a time:
The importance of breaking your main goal down into mini-goals or milestones cannot be overemphasised. It is human nature to seek gratification, and a lack thereof can result in wavering motivation which eventually results in falling off the wagon. Having set milestones leading up to one’s final objective can allow the satisfaction of enjoying the small victories and helps to stay on course in the long run. As they say, a fitness journey is not a 100-meter sprint, it is a marathon: you should be in it for the long haul. The setting, and keeping track of these mini-goals is a habit-forming technique that will make fitness a permanent part of your life and keep you continually motivated with every successive moment of triumph.
It is essential to feed your body the best nutrition to enable it to perform at its highest level. Getting fit is 20% exercise and 80% diet. Staying active on a poor diet can cause one to feel sluggish and hamper progress. On the other hand, it is also easy to jeopardise your goals by unwittingly over-eating. Ideally, one should consult with a registered dietitian and nutritionist to come up with a personalised nutritional plan for the correct amounts of macro-nutrients (proteins, carbohydrates and fats) and micro-nutrients (including sodium levels, potassium, vitamin requirements etc.) required. Signing up for macro-tracking services (like MyFitnessPal or My Macros +) allows users to track exactly how much they are eating by providing a comprehensive database of food items that makes it easy to ‘count calories’.
It must be stated that crash-dieting or severely restricting one’s calorie intake will only do more harm to the body. In fact, studies show that prolonged dietary restriction slows down metabolism and causes stagnation in weight loss, along with a multitude of other physiological problems. Hence, while one should avoid exceeding their calorific limit as set by the nutritionist, it is absolutely necessary to eat enough to provide sufficient energy to help one’s body continue to function optimally.
A well-rounded training program with wholesome nutrition is ideally supplemented by both cardio and strength training and allowances for flexibility and rest days. Where cardio workouts burn more calories per session than strength training ones, strength training elevates your metabolism and subsequently burns calories for more extended periods after the session is over. On average, three days of strength or resistance exercises and two days of cardio intensive activity is recommended, but this may vary depending on your fitness goals and your normal activity levels.
Making sure to increase your base level of activity during the day will also help boost your metabolism. This could mean taking the stairs more often, parking your car farther away from your destination, and cycling or even walking to work and back.
It is essential to have a way to hold yourself accountable, especially for those off-days when leaving the enticing comfort of a bed or couch to get moving seems like the most arduous task. Start small by dedicating a diary to log in your necessary measurements to help gauge progress (record weight, tape measurements of size and photos). We would recommend going beyond this and involving others in your pursuit of fitness- this could be in the form of having a dedicated workout partner, informing close family or friends of your progress or sharing your journey on social media. Human psychology works in a way that while some people put in the hours on their own, many others require a support group to help them on their way.
Some people may require more than just proper nutrition and an active lifestyle to achieve their targets. Those who are on the heavier side of the scale, or have specific dietary requirements, should consider using the right supplements to avoid the slew of medical problems that can arise due to being overweight. Services such as Click Pharmacy have a range of weight loss supplements that can elevate one’s progress when taken in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle and diet. Keep in mind that it is never advisable to self-prescribe any supplement without consulting the relevant professional expert.
When it comes to achieving your fitness goals, you need to have the earnest desire and mental courage to do what is required to be healthier and stronger. With a well-formed fitness plan, proper nutrition and an exercise regime catered to your specific needs, you will have worked your way to the summer body you desire in no time.