With about 12 weeks to go until people set off on their summer holidays, it’s a good time for those of you interested in losing a bit of weight for the beach to start putting the right wheels in motion.
The following tips are some fundamental behaviours that when done consistently, most of the time, are guaranteed to help you achieve your beach body goals (or any other health and fitness goals you might have!)
- Eat slowly and stop when you are just satisfied – this may sound very simple but slowing down and building awareness of your hunger cues can be a very powerful tool in helping to eat less. However, despite being simple concepts, slow eating and stopping before you are full are often very difficult to execute. Trying things like placing your knife and fork down between mouthfuls, using a timer, swallowing all the food in your mouth before taking more and eating from smaller plates can all help to build this habit into your lifestyle.
- Eat protein and vegetables at most, if not every meal – When a meal is made up of whole foods from these two groups it tends to be lower in calories, higher in fibre, higher in water and more satiating - keeping you feeling satisfied for longer. By focusing on high quality sources of protein and vegetables, you will find it much easier to keep your food quantity in check. To learn more about ways of increasing your protein and vegetable content have a look at this article by Matt.
- Move more (in addition to your exercise) – Although many of you diligently attend your Matt Roberts PT sessions anywhere between 2 and 5 times a week the energy you expend outside of this is equally as important when it comes to weight loss. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is the energy a person uses for all physical activity outside of structured exercise. There’s lots of evidence to suggest that people who have higher levels of NEAT manage their body weight more successfully. This time of year lends itself to increasing your daily movement so it’s worth taking advantage of if you’re trying to lean out for the summer. Activities such as gardening, DIY, walks and bike rides in the park will help to add to your energy expenditure. Don’t let making it to the gym mean you sit still for the rest of the day, keep moving!
- Get 7-8 hours of sleep a night – This is likely to be something many of you have heard before and probably sounds like advice that is easier said than done. This doesn’t change the fact quality sleep is a big part of helping us function optimally, which in turn will help us shed any unwanted pounds. Although it’s very difficult to provide solutions that will guarantee someone gets more sleep, focusing on your evening routine can often make it much more likely. Try things like stopping your caffeine intake past 2pm, writing down all the things in your head an hour before bed so they are less likely to keep you up, stopping all screen time an hour before bed, reading a book (preferably some light fiction), listening to some relaxing music, leaving phones and gadgets in another room (no “my phone is my alarm” excuses, buy an alarm clock!) and taking a hot bath before bed (try some Epsom salts as the magnesium will help calm the body and promote sleep). In the end, it’s about focusing on behaviours not outcomes. Use some or all of the strategies above and decide what works best for you. If you end up getting an extra hour of sleep per night between now and summer it’s far more likely you’ll achieve the beach body you want. If you’re interested in learning more about the importance of sleep have a look at this series of articles on our website.
- Call out and address your elephant in the room – We all have one, some people even have more than one. So be honest with yourself, what’s the one thing that you know you probably need to change to get you where you need to be. Maybe it’s dropping the alcohol consumption down to one or two nights a week, maybe it’s reducing the nightly chocolate treats or cutting out the sneaky peanut butter sandwiches at four in the afternoon. Whatever it is, call it out and come up with a strategy to address it. If after a couple of days, things aren’t going to plan, scale the strategy back until it’s something you know you can’t fail at. Any little thing that helps you do a bit better than yesterday will gradually start to make a difference.
So, there you have it, five slightly unconventional tips to help get you ready for the summer. To make things a little easier, focus on one tip at a time, each for two weeks, in the order above. By the time the holidays come around you will have built each one into your lifestyle without feeling overwhelmed. Focus on practicing the behaviours consistently and when things don’t quite go to plan clean the slate and do better today.