There is something about warm weather, swim suits and beach season that motivates us to stick to our healthy lifestyle goals like nothing else. As the weather starts to warm up, here are six realistic tips to get you in shape the right way while feeling body positive.
#1. Set small cross-training goals that are easy to do on busy days.
Progress comes from consistent, regular practice. Instead of setting huge exercise goals that might fall apart in a couple of weeks, set smaller, specific goals that fit within a busy lifestyle. Certainly aim to include bigger exercise sessions, too, but make these smaller goals a part of your everyday routine.
-25 sit-ups before getting in the shower each day
-One-minute plank before lunch
-Take the stairs everywhere you go
-Keep 5-pound weights in your bedroom and do arm reps of 20
#2. At least once or twice a week, get exercise that raises your heart rate.
Weight loss and fat burning require getting your heart rate up. Sometimes dance class can be slower and more focused on small technical details at the expense of a more cardiovascular workout. Find 30 minutes to an hour a couple of times in your week to swim, bike or take a class that makes you really sweat.
#3. Kick fad diets to the curb.
Extreme or restrictive diets that promise fast results always backfire in the long run with additional weight gain, plus feeling sluggish, dizzy and even depressed. When you significantly cut out calories and key nutrients, the body goes into starvation mode, similar to your computer going on sleep mode. No one wants a sleepy metabolism! Want to lose body fat but keep your hard-earned muscle? Then it’s all about eating regularly throughout the day with smaller portion sizes. Try grazing with six smaller meals/snacks that focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes as the stars of the mini-plate.
#4. Small food changes add up to big results.
You don’t have to suffer on a big diet! Just make small, sustainable changes every single day starting with a high fibre breakfast. This sends an important message to your body that you want a high metabolic rate. A high fibre breakfast like porridge/oatmeal instead of bacon and eggs, for example, has been shown to increase fat oxidation (i.e. fat burning) in women and is much lower in fat and calories.
Take a page from the longest living people of the Blue Zones and eat 80 percent of your plate, then check in with your body to see if you are still hungry or not.
Pack fruit and veggie snacks for work or school, and make sure you bring them with you.
Follow the recommendations of the World Health Organization, and eliminate red and processed meat, which is high in calories and saturated fats.
#5. Choose your oils and fats wisely.
Plant-based fats in olive oil, avocado and nuts are good for body and brain. However, portions really matter with these calorie dense options. The difference between a teaspoon of oil and a tablespoon of oil is 80 calories. That may not seem like much, but it adds up to 2,400 calories in just one month of daily consumption. You can also enjoy some nuts but keep the serving size to about ¼ cup, not the whole jar.
#6. Choose your beverages wisely.
A typical soft drink has 17 teaspoons of sugar in it. Some commercially prepared pseudo-healthy smoothies have more sugar than two chocolate bars!
Limit added sugars, and satisfy your sweet tooth with real fruit.
Read labels. Sugar hides in many products.
By Emily C. Harrison MS, RD, LD of Nutrition for Great Performances.
Emily Cook Harrison MS, RD, LD
Emily is a registered dietitian and holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in nutrition from Georgia State University, USA. Her master’s thesis research was on elite level ballet dancers and nutrition and she has experience providing nutrition services for weight management, sports nutrition, disordered eating, disease prevention, and food allergies. Emily was a professional dancer for eleven years with the Atlanta Ballet and several other companies. She is a dance educator and the mother of two young children. She now runs the Centre for Dance Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyles. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org