Summer is here, although we are yet to see it, and soon that holiday you have been looking forward to all year will arrive. If you are looking in the mirror and starting to panic about the beach body that you forgot to get there are a few easy lifestyle changes that could deliver quick results. We’re not promising Elle McPherson but a healthier, happier you.
Here are five changes you can make today to beat that bulge.
Stop running, start lifting
There is a common misconception that cardio is the best way to burn fat, and although it is an important part of any workout it shouldn’t be the sole focus of your gym visits. Cardiovascular exercise, as the name suggests, involves endurance exercises that increase your heart rate and pump blood faster around your body and as a result burning fat.
The issue arises when your body starts to adapt to the cardio, meaning that as you strengthen your heart and muscles you need to work harder to burn the same amount of calories as you did when you first started working out. Cardio can also cause the burning of muscle as well as fat meaning you are not just losing unhealthy weight but some of that well-earned muscle as well, so while the number on the scales may be going down, the reason for it may not be what you hoped for.
When weightlifting you are breaking down muscles which rebuild themselves in the 24-48 hours that follow exercise, calories are being burnt in this process and your metabolism is operating at a faster level. This is in contrast to cardio, which stops burning calories when the exercise stops. Another benefit is that weightlifting or strength training will burn nearly 100% fat, meaning you are toning up as well as shedding.
This doesn’t mean that cardo should be cut altogether, as it has been proven to reduce stress which can curb the appetites of the stress eaters out there. Consider swapping some cardio for strength training and enjoy the results.
3 Strength training exercises perfect for ladies
1. Barbell Squats
This exercise involves a barbell with as much weight that you feel comfortable with, without it being too easy. The barbell rests on the bottom of your neck/ top of your shoulders and a squat is performed, ensuring there is little movement in the lower back, keeping it straight. To start try 3 sets of 12 reps.
2. Hip Thrusts
Hip thrusts are the perfect exercise for the ladies that adds curves in the right place. For this you will need a step up block, an exercise mat, a barbell and some large weights. Set up the step up block with the mat over it, providing cushioning for your back. Place large weights (in size, not necessarily weight) on either side of the barbell, making it tall enough to roll over your legs when sitting against the block. The edge of the block should be where your bra would sit. Roll the barbell to your hips, bend your knees, tense your abs, thighs and glutes and lift the barbell with just your hips, you can use your hands to stabilise the bar but not to help lift. To start try 4 sets of 10 reps.
3. Sumo Deadlifts
This exercise is for those pesky inner thighs. Take a kettlebell and place it in front of you on the floor between your legs. Get into a wide squat position, and pick up the kettlebell. The aim is to squat low so the kettlebell touches the floor but you don’t bend your back and as you stand you thrust your hips forward slightly and tense your glutes. To start try 3 sets of 15 reps.
Up the protein, cut the carbs
If when you think of protein you picture veiny muscle men, who live in the gym and kiss their biceps then you couldn’t be more wrong. Protein is essential for repairing the muscles broken down during exercise, it is also better for weight loss than fats and carbohydrates. The ‘thermic effect of food’ (TEF) is the energy used to digest food into small components that can be absorbed. Protein has a higher TEF than both carbs and fat which means you burn more calories processing protein than processing the other two food groups, helping you build muscle and lose weight faster.
Protein comes in many forms, it can be found in fish, meat, beans, dairy products, nuts, eggs and you can also find protein supplements such as gold standard whey protein for those who struggle to incorporate enough protein into their diets. It is not recommended that a person’s diet consists only of protein, but it should make up about 20% of your daily food intake, along with vegetables/ fruit, healthy fats and some carbohydrates.
If you can’t say goodbye to carbs altogether, and you shouldn’t because they are an excellent energy source, you could try cutting out the refined carbs such as white pasta, bread and rice and try swapping them for healthier carbs instead such as sweet potatoes, spelt pasta, beans and pulses.
Sometimes a diet is the hardest thing to change, a person could be working out every day but unless what they put into their bodies is altered there will be little difference. A study in the American Journal of Medicine found that ‘isolated aerobic exercise is not an effective weight loss therapy’, if weightless is the aim you must first look at your diet.
This by no means butting everything out and living on spinach leaves and dry chicken. You could take a positive step in the right direction but just making a few healthy swaps.
Quark instead of Crème Fraiche
Quark is a naturally fat free soft cheese that acts and tastes very similarly to its fattier counterpart Crème Fraiche, which can typically serve up more than 8g saturated fat per 30ml serving. Full fat crème fraiche won’t split at high temperatures whereas the reduced fat crème fraiche and quark will so always add after the other ingredients have been taken off the heat.
Spelt Pasta instead of White Pasta
Refined carbs contain a lot of sugar, not to mention a lot of other nasties that aren’t great for you and can leave you feeling bloated and tired. Spelt pasta is made from the ancient spelt grain which boasts many health benefits. Unlike the refined versions made from durum wheat, spelt is easier to digest. It also contains more nutrients such as vitamin B2, manganese, niacin, thiamin, and copper.
Sweet Potatoes instead of White Potatoes
Although potatoes are generally good for you, sweet potatoes have been hailed as the weight loss carb. Each serving of sweet potato typically contains 100 calories, a lot less than their white alternative which contains 400-500 calories per serving. Sweet potatoes also contain a high amount of dietary fibre, fibre is bulky and slow to digest, meaning that it takes up more space in your stomach and takes longer to be digested, leaving you feeling fuller for longer and cutting the amount of snacks consumed. If these reasons haven’t sold you, the fact they have a lot more flavour than white potatoes should.
Herbal Tea instead of Milky Beverages
If like a lot of people you enjoy the odd latte or cappuccino daily but don’t account for the calories they could be the reason your weight loss has halted. Trying swapping one of your milky, calorific drinks for a healthy herbal tea, and although the health benefits of Green Tea are second to none the taste is an acquired one, luckily there are many tasty herbal teas out there that will cut the calories, trim the waistline and increase your water intake for the day.
Increase the water intake
Water makes up 60% of the adult human body, so it is pretty important that is a big part of our everyday lives. Water has no magical fat burning properties but is integral to weight loss as a whole.
A lot of people confuse thirst for hunger, meaning that when they feel thirsty they will choose to have a snack rather than a drink, drinking the recommended amount of water daily will curb this thirst and cut down on unnecessary snacking. If you are drinking water for hydration it should be tepid, as to not ‘shock’ the kidneys, however if your aim is weight loss drink water ice cold. Drinking ice cold water boosts your metabolism as your body has to work harder to warm the water up, which results in more calories being burnt.
Drinking water before meals can also reduce your appetite, meaning that you may not eat as much in that sitting as you would if you had avoided drinking water.
Not only is water great for weight loss but you will also enjoy increased energy and clearer, brighter skin.
Adopt healthy habits
Humans are creatures of convenience, if an easier option is offered it will be taken. These easy options however can contribute to a lazier lifestyle which can cause weight gain. You may not think about the little ways life is made easier for you but your waistline will. Just tiny changes to an everyday routine can show big results.
Take the stairs
If you work at the top of a sky scraper then ignore this point, however if you avoid 2 or 3 flights of stairs daily in favour of using the lift then taking the stairs could benefit your summer body goals. A person who weighs 160lbs will burn approximately 9 calories per minute of climbing stairs. True these numbers aren’t staggering but if you take the stairs every day for a month these numbers soon add up, particularly as taking the elevator burns approximately 0 calories.
Walk to work
If it is possible and the weather is nice, opt to walk to work. If you work in London get off the tube a stop before your usual stop and walk the rest of the way. Macmillan Cancer Support found that ‘Walking one mile at a moderate pace (3mph), or for just 20 minutes a day, could reduce breast cancer patients’ risk of dying from the disease by 40%’, not only will your beach body thank you for walking but it could actually save your life.
Cycle to the shops
This isn’t always possible and only applies to those that have a bike, but instead of hopping in the car to grab a bottle of milk or a loaf of bread, bike there instead. Think of the fuel money you will save as well as the added benefit of free exercise.
These simple lifestyle changes can not only make a massive difference to your health but also could be the difference between getting the body you want and the body you settle for.
By Gemma Harling
Lifestyle Blogger at OhMyGemma.com and Digital Marketing Consultant at Receptional.com