During the spring & summer seasons, the minute you walk in to any newsagent you are confronted by a wall of shame. ‘Why shame’, I hear you ask? Shame because the likelihood is you went in to get something innocent enough and, despite being surrounded by magazines sporting headlines like “Get Beach Ready” or “Bikini Body in Just 6 Weeks”, you still managed to come out with some sort of sweet treat that was placed tantalisingly close to the till! We’ve all done the walk of shame at some stage in our ‘being good’ phase, but you really shouldn’t beat yourself up about it. The moment you start telling yourself off is the moment you begin the downward spiral to chubsville.
I am no dietician and certainly no personal trainer, but I want to share with you what works for me when it comes to getting fit for Florida (other destinations are available)!
Yes, you did read that right – I said do not diet. As soon as you tell yourself you’re on a diet, restrict yourself from eating the things you like and measuring things out in to kids portions, you are giving yourself ways to fail. What works for me is a few simple food swaps and sensible guidelines to keep yourself from over indulging. These include:
- Swapping white foods for healthier equivalents (e.g. wholegrain pasta, wholegrain rice, sweet potatoes & brown bread)
- Buying sweet treats in individually portioned packs instead of ‘share size’ because, let’s face it, who actually shares it?! Cadbury’s Freddos & Fudge bars, Cadbury’s Highlights hot chocolate sachets, “fun size” Haribo bags & Alpen Jaffa Cake bars are all great snacks that are £1 for 5 or more portions and under 120 calories each (not that I’m counting) so you can have 1 or 2 of these a day without feeling guilty.
- Drinking a glass of water right before every meal.
- Eating meals from a slightly smaller dinner plate.
- Binning/saving any left overs immediately after serving to prevent the risk of having second helpings.
- Planning meals ahead of time so you can look forward to your meal all day, resisting the urge to make bad choices when you’re hungry.
Just these few simple tricks can help you battle the bulge without really changing your diet.
Don’t Buy A Gym Membership
“It’s raining, I’m working late and the gym closes soon, I could use that money to buy a new dress, my hair is a mess, my gym clothes are is in the wash, I feel too fat to go today”… the list of reasons NOT to go is literally endless, so don’t plan on going at all! If, like me, you need to eliminate the risk of making excuses for not doing exercise, then don’t rely on leaving the house to do it.
What works for me is Zumba (I love the music & they’ve planned it all out for me) but you have to find your belly-busting niche. I have 2 DVDs with 2 different work out lengths and target areas, and these have worked a treat for years. Generally, the way it works is as follows:
Work Day: 20 Minutes ‘Flat Abs’ session topped up with stomach crunches, sit-ups and a 30 second plank. A total of 25 minutes first thing in the morning, usually before the husband gets up so there are no spectators!
Day Off: 50 Minutes ‘Sculpt & Tone’ session topped up with stomach crunches, sit-ups and a 30 second plank. A total of 60 minutes maximum, whenever it fits in with my plans. If I’ve got a busy day planned, I might opt for another shorter session and try to walk lots during the day.
I usually do 4 x 20 minute sessions and 2 x 60 minute sessions a week with 1 rest day, but the trick is to be flexible and make it fit in with your day.
Don’t Make A Timetable
Giving yourself a strict exercise regime or diet will leave you exposed to failure as life often gets in the way. The key to success is to make your new habits fit within your current lifestyle. If you tell yourself you’re going to start with an exercise session on Monday morning and then you sleep through your alarm, don’t think “oh well, I guess I’ll start next week”, just do a little something in the afternoon or make that a rest day. This isn’t a diet or an exercise regime, this is your new lifestyle and things change. Don’t punish yourself, just move on!
Don’t Reward Yourself With Food
Find new things to treat yourself like buying a magazine, seeing a new movie or make a new playlist. The key to sustainable success is changing your relationship with food.
Don’t Weigh Yourself
As your body constantly changes due to water retention, hormones, bloating and so on, I find weighing yourself can be very demotivating. Instead of focusing on the numbers, after a week or so you should begin to feel the difference in the clothes you wear and the reflection you see. If you really must bench mark your success with numbers, I find a monthly measurement of the target areas such as waist, bust, hips & thighs is very encouraging as you watch the centimetres melt away. Don’t do it too frequently though or you may find yourself obsessing over the wrong figure, if you catch my drift!
Don’t Rely On Support
In order for all of the above to work you need to be self-motivated. Relying on family or friends can be worse than not having any support at all! What I’ve found is that when a loved one sees you doing well, they want you to celebrate this, and they often suggest sharing a spot of tea and cake (or something stronger) to mark the occasion! The only way you will succeed is if you keep your end goal in your mind, and when the going gets tough you need to be able to re-focus. After all, it is only you who can consume and burn your own calories! I find that having a holiday count down in view whilst you work out really helps squeeze in those extra few sit ups! Also, if you are planning on exercising first thing in the morning, setting an upbeat alarm tone with a motivational message on your phone is essential to get you out of bed, and don’t forget to put your phone on the other side of the room just to make sure!
So now you’ve heard my secrets, tell me yours!
What works for you when you’re getting ‘holiday ready’?