Did you know that the 15th of January was officially ‘Blue Monday’? With Christmas over and everyone back into their normal routines, researchers have found this to be the most depressing day of the year. So it’s no surprise that many of us try to perk ourselves up by planning our summer holidays…
This time of year sees a huge surge in holiday bookings as people begin to organize trips that they can look forward to. Day dreaming of sunnier climates and golden beaches is one way to make it through the depressing winter months. The gray weather and dark days can challenge even the happiest of souls, so it’s no wonder that many of us start looking to escape. Which got us wondering, if our holiday is booked and the dates are confirmed, then when is the best time to start preparing?
Traditionally most of us begin thinking about our ‘summer body’ in the weeks leading up to the trip. If we super-organized it might be eight weeks before, but most of us leave it until the last possible minute. Then we hit the gym hard and adopt a strict diet to achieve some kind of result in the shortest possible time. For many of us, that result isn’t the svelte body we’d hoped for, and we resolve to be more organized next year…
Why This Approach Rarely Works
There are a number of problems with this approach which make it almost doomed from the beginning. The first is that it adopts an unhealthy ‘quick fix’ mindset instead of promoting long term lifestyle change. This leads to extreme behavior such as severe calorie limitation or excessive exercising, which aren’t good for our bodies. In fact, they place us under unnecessary stress which can actually lead to weight gain!
Crash diets are especially bad for our health. They cause our metabolism to slow down so we aren’t burning as many calories doing everyday things. This makes all that extra effort at the gym less effective. It can also result in you burning muscle instead of fat, which makes that dream of being lean and toned even less likely. And then there’s the lasting impact… Although the evidence is mixed, there’s plenty to suggest that crash diets mess with our metabolism and can promote fat storage over the long term.
Another issue with this approach is that it’s just plain hard! Following a super-strict regime of training and eating can steal the joy from fitness and food. Instead of looking forward to a workout that energizes you, that intense program may become something you dread. And let’s not even talk about the mental impact of eating cabbage soup three meals a day…
By starting early and planning ahead, you can achieve your goal without the hassle. In fact, it’ll actually be easier to achieve it by doing things you enjoy consistently. It also pre-empts any possibility of you getting further away from your goal. If you’re not eating healthily or working out regularly, then there’s a good chance that you’ll put on weight or lose muscle definition before your holiday. This will give you an even higher mountain to climb if you decide to start training a few weeks before departure. There’ll be a few extra months of damage to reverse, but this can be completely avoided if you just start that bit earlier.
So with this in mind, here are three things that you can start doing now in preparation for your summer body…
#1 – Address Your Winter Nutrition
A lot of us tend to eat more healthily in the summer, but less so in the winter. The cold weather can make us crave comforting foods, and these tend to be the ones full of cheese and processed carbs!
By addressing our nutrition habits now, we can get a head start before the Spring. Try swapping processed foods for nutrient-dense alternative likes vegetable soup and stir-fry. If you’re really craving a particular comfort food, then Google a healthier recipe alternative that cuts out some of the worst ingredients. Taking these small steps now will nourish your body with vitamins and minerals, with an increasing snowball effect over the next few months.
#2 – Develop a Consistent Workout Routine
If you aren’t working out regularly then the first step is to get into a routine. Commit to exercising at least three times per week and set them as appointments in your calendar.
Find a workout that you love to do so that it doesn’t feel like a chore, and you actually look forward to it! This might be HIIT classes, dancing, cycling or any number of other activities that get your heart rate up. Maybe even find a friend to exercise with so that it becomes a social activity.
#3 – Identify Any Target Areas
Some of us might have a particular area that we want to work on for the summer. Perhaps it’s your shoulders or upper arms which get exposed when wearing short-sleeved or strappy tops. Maybe you’re after toned thighs to look good in shorts or some killer abs to show off by the pool.
If you have a specific area that you’d like to work on, then it’s a good idea to speak to a personal trainer. They can develop a training plan that’ll target those areas specifically, without leading to muscular imbalances. This will help you workout more efficiently, knowing that you’re getting the best out of your routine.
By working on these three areas early, you’re much more likely to get the summer body you want in time for that holiday. If you have any questions or would like some advice on where to start, then our team are here to help. Get in touch here.