June 2014 | Newsletter archives
Summer shape up
By Eva Cwynar
Is it really June already? It is, and with it has come swimsuit season. Maybe you meant to start getting in shape sooner, like back in January, but it didn't happen. Now you're wondering how to get results, and fast. The good news is you can slim down and shape up in as little as four weeks.
Some health experts say you can safely lose up to two pounds a week, a fairly aggressive weight-loss goal. A more modest approach is to lose a pound a week. Here are some ideas for achieving your ideal beach body:
• Don't go overboard. Bear in mind that losing too much weight too fast could actually undermine your goals because you could end up losing muscle along with fat.
• Be careful about restricting your diet too much. If you try to cut more than 500 calories a day, you also can defeat your weight-loss efforts. It can lead to cravings, irritability and even a slower metabolism as your body fights to hang onto fuel.
• Work out but not too intensely. This is especially important if you’re attempting to go from couch potato to fitness fiend. It could also put you at risk for stress-related injuries. Start with less-intense exercises like walking and work your way up to more challenging activities, like jogging..
• Commitment is key. If you can, try to carve out a 30-minute block for physical activity. But if that doesn’t work, three 10-minute blocks in the day, one in the morning, one at lunch and one after work will work as well. Just make sure to fill each block with activities ranging from brisk walking to climbing stairs to jumping rope.
It's also essential to engage in some strength-training. When you build muscle, your body will become more toned and you’ll look great in everything from a dress to shorts to a two-piece bathing suit. Most fitness experts recommend lifting weights three days a week, targeting all major muscle groups. Beginners can start with one set of exercises and build up to two or three. Eight to 12 repetitions of an activity is usually considered standard. It won’t strain your muscles but will allow you to tone up. Always remember that the weight you use should be heavy enough to fatigue the target muscle by the last rep.
As for watching your diet, I recommend maintaining a food diary, writing down everything you eat, and when, for at least three days. It will help you see what you’re eating as well as what the tougher times of the day might be.
To help cut calories, try reducing portions by one-third and snacking on fruits and veggies instead of higher-calorie munchies.
To lose a pound of fat in a week, you need to create a deficit of 3,500 calories by eating less and exercising more. Small changes can have a big impact. Within one month of healthy eating and regular exercise, you will also start to see an improvement in energy levels, a moderate amount of weight loss and some increases in muscle tone.
It’s June and there’s no time like the present to get started. Even if you don't lose as much weight or get as toned as you'd like, there's another big benefit to eating right and exercising: confidence.