It’s time to get in shape for summer! Spring is here which means swimsuit season is right around the corner. It’s time to put away our heavy, baggy winter clothes and start thinking about the beach, sitting by the pool, and spending time outdoors.

Many of us would rather not think about wearing shorts and swimsuits and getting in shape for summer, though, since we might’ve a gained a few pounds during the winter. Or if you didn’t gain weight, you might be thinking about some ways to firm up so you look good in your bikini.

My goal is to tone my tummy without a lot of extra effort, since I don’t necessarily want to exercise more or eat less. I decided to explore some ways to make a few small tweaks so I can have fun and get things done instead of obsessing over what I look like and what I’m eating. I’m guessing that sounds like a good plan for you, too.

The good thing is the warmer weather makes it easier to get outside and exercise, plus it also means lots of fresh local fruits and veggies to help us eat healthy.

Replace Sugar and Carbs with Fresh Produce, Healthy Fats and Protein

Since how your body looks really comes down mostly to what you put in your mouth, looking at your food is a good place to start.  According to Mark Sisson, “80 percent of your body composition success is determined by how you eat” (some other experts say it’s more like 90 percent ), not exercise.

I see so many guys at the gym working out too long and hard, thinking they’re working off the pizza and beer they had the night before, but you can’t out exercise a bad diet.

Counting calories is a waste of time and they aren’t all the same–the kinds of foods you eat have a different effect on your weight. The wrong foods (i.e. sugar and refined carbohydrates) will cause insulin resistance and cause your body to store fat, while the right ones help your body to burn fat. The quality of your foods (in the proper quantities) has a bigger effect on how you look than exercise.

I don’t like the word “diet” as most are fads and don’t work. It’s really about living a healthy lifestyle, which obviously isn’t that easy or everyone would be doing it. But replacing unhealthy carbohydrates with healthy fats will help curb cravings and help you feel fuller longer. Plus, it will prevent insulin spikes and help your body burn fat instead of sugar. I follow and recommend the Bulletproof® plan and like it because it’s not a one-size-fits-all diet.

I like to track what I’m eating on Cronometer and am always surprised to find I’m eating too much of everything, especially protein, which is true for most people.

Have a Regular, Fun Exercise Routine

Getting outside is much easier this time of year and there are many ways of adding more movement into your schedule, such as walking, swimming, running, tennis, and group sports. The key is finding something you like and will do. The great thing about summer is we’re likely to be more active anyway.

If you’re currently not doing much in the way of fitness, walking is a great place to start.

Some people don’t like to go to the gym (or don’t have time to go) and prefer to work out at home. Exercise doesn’t have to take a lot of time, and there are countless ways of doing it, including phone apps, online videos, using your body weight, kettle balls, resistance bands, and exercise balls.

I’m a big fan of yoga, which is great for flexibility, balance, and helping with breathing and mindfulness, and there’s different levels for everyone.

To get in shape, you don’t have to increase your workout time and can actually get better results in less time, but it needs to be intense. For example, high intensity interval training (HIIT), which involves a short burst of an activity such as sprinting for 30 seconds and then 90 seconds of rest, repeated several times.

Lift Something Heavy

Strength training has so many health benefits, and I personally believe it’s the “fountain of youth.” It elevates human growth hormone, stabilizes hormones and much more. It’s especially important to older you get to prevent age-related muscle loss. A lot of women avoid weights, thinking they’ll get too muscular, but that isn’t the case.

Strength training is superior to cardio for fat loss since it causes your body to keep burning fat after you’re done exercising; studies show that with cardio, fat burning stops when you stop exercising. Plus too much cardio can actually sabotage your weight loss efforts by stressing the body, which causes the release of cortisol and causes the body to store more fat.

Many people are overexercising, It needs to be the right amount exercise to stimulate muscle growth and combined with adequate recovery.

See this blog post for an effective gym weight workout that takes 20 minutes once a week if, it’s done right.

If you’re new to strength training, it’s a good idea to work with a trainer at first so you learn proper form.

How to Get a “Bikini Belly”

If you’re interested in learning some quick effective exercises to tone up your midsection, check out Shawna Kaminski’s 5-minute exercise video–she’s a fitness expert who specializes in helping women over 35 lose “menopause belly fat.”  She says it’s not inevitable that we’re stuck with more fat around our middles as we get older and recommends shorter, more intense workouts–things like jump rope and plank-type exercises over crunches and curls, which can make the belly look fatter and thicker.

Small shifts yield big results. First, you have to want to change, set a reasonable goal, and take the actions needed to do it. To prevent getting overwhelmed, try one thing at a time until it becomes a habit.

Of course, motivation and accountability come in to this, and that’s why working with a coach such as myself is helpful. Click here if you’d like to talk to me about how coaching can benefit you.

xo,

Kate

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