Your holiday shape-up plan

Want to tone up and get in shape for the summer? Try these tips from Alison Beadle

So you’ve made it through the dark winter months – now it’s time to throw yourself into life in the sunshine! Beach trips, strappy dresses, vest tops and shorts mean we all want to look our best but, more importantly, we should feel our best too. Here is our guide to shaping up for the summer without having to hit the gym:

Clean up your diet

“The key to sticking to a healthy eating plan is to find something that is not too complicated and easy to follow,” explains Sid Betty, a personal trainer and precision nutrition healthy eating coach (www.livewellbhappy.co.uk) “When preparing a meal, I recommend including a piece of protein the size of the palm of your hand (two for men), two servings of vegetables the size of your fist and a thumb-sized serving of healthy fat. After training, a piece of fruit or a fist-sized serving of starchy carbs can be added to the meal if required.”

Here are some more guidelines:

  • Eat a minimum of four to eight portions of vegetables or salads and one to two portions of fruit a day (depending on your weight loss goals).
  • Make sure you have a serving of lean protein with every meal.
  • Eat one to two portions of oily fish a week such as salmon, mackerel or tuna – this is also great for the health of your heart and brain.
  • Drink at least two litres of water a day and limit caffeine and alcohol as this can help you to sleep better, feel more energised and keep your skin looking better due to improved hydration levels.
  • Snack on small portions of nuts and seeds. These are rich in protein and full of healthy fats and minerals; you’ll feel fuller for longer and will be stocking up on essential nutrients.
  • If you can tolerate them without gaining weight, eat small to moderate portions of complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, quinoa or beans and pulses rather than refined carbohydrates such as white pasta, bread and rice. Your energy levels will be more balanced.

Train smart

Most of us are short on time so it’s important to make the most of our workouts. Try to fit in a mixture of training each week and you will soon start to see the results of your hard work. Here are some tips:

1. Create your own workouts at home
The following example can be completed in 20 minutes including two to three minutes each for your warm-up and cool-down.
Pick four to five multi-joint exercises, for example: squats, reverse lunges or press-ups. Set yourself a target such as 20 reps each or 10 per side and perform as many circuits as you can in the allotted time. Keep rest between exercises minimal, but allow yourself a little recovery after each circuit (a maximum of 60 seconds). Make a note of how many circuits you complete. Next time you do this workout, use the same exercises and try to do more circuits in the same amount of time. As you get fitter, you’ll need less time for resting. This method can be applied to resistance (weight) training and traditional cardio (running, indoor rowing or cycling).

2. Burn fat with weights
If you’re put off the idea of training with weights because you don’t want to get bulky, then think again. Weight training builds lean muscle tissue and is great for weight loss. As your muscle mass increases, so will your metabolic rate. What’s more, a varied programme will help you to strengthen different sets of muscles and make your body more balanced. If you are a complete beginner, go slowly and concentrate on getting your technique right. Pick a weight you can lift no fewer than 12 times, but no more than 15 times. Practise moves such as squats, deadlifts, lunges and twists and perform them in a circuit style, again with minimal rest between changeovers. There are plenty of online tutorials to help you learn these moves, but you could also sign up for a couple of sessions with a personal trainer to get your technique right.

3. Train with a heart rate monitor
If you have a heart rate monitor and know your heart rate training zones, set alarms at, for example, 65 per cent and 80 to 90 per cent, depending on your fitness level and goal. After warming up, set out at a fast pace until the upper alarm sounds, then slow down. When the lower alarm triggers speed up, and so on. Over a period of time you will recover quicker and therefore spend more time at the higher speed, covering more distance and working harder. Your recovery is governed by your fitness level.

Top tip

Cutting back on all forms of sugar can really help to shift those excess pounds. And that’s not just refined sugar, but natural sugars and hidden sugars in processed foods. As sugar is so calorie-dense, once you have eliminated it from your diet you will find that you will be able to eat more nutrient-dense foods. As well as helping to shift excess weight, cutting back on sugar could help to increase your energy levels and give extra support to your immune system.

Perfect posture

Good posture can help us to look slimmer and taller. Exercises such as planks, side planks and core-based workouts can help to improve our posture, as can yoga and Pilates. There are plenty of yoga or Pilates apps that can be downloaded onto a smartphone and there are online tutorials available through YouTube, but if you are a beginner it is advisable to join a class taught by a professional teacher.

Find a challenge

Many of us need a goal to help us focus on our weight loss and fitness targets. There are so many types of challenges around now that you could work towards. Here are a few examples:

The MoonWalk for Breast Cancer Awareness – www.walkthewalk.org

The Bournemouth Pier to Pier swim for the British Heart Foundation – www.bhf.org.uk

The London to Brighton Bike Ride – capitaltocoast.org.uk

The Race for Life – raceforlife.cancerresearchuk.org

The Three Peaks Challenge – www.threepeakschallenge.uk

For more ideas go to: www.timeoutdoors.com/challenges/UK-challenges

Alison Beadle is a personal trainer, group exercise instructor and barefoot trainer. She is also the author of Sugar free me: Gluten, sugar, yeast and dairy-free eating. For more information visit www.livewellbhappy.co.uk and www.sugarfreeme.org

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