Spring seems to be the time where everyone decides to take their New Years resolutions of getting back into shape seriously as there are only a dozen or so weeks until we reach the first day of summer. Unfortunately, fad diets and gimmicks to shed those winter pounds may be way too tempting to try out. The first order of business here is to know that there are no shortcuts. Doing something drastic and strict for the next few weeks may look good on the outside for now, but you can be doing irreparable damage to your insides. Plus, most of the time when a fad diet fails, a person will gain back the weight they have lost plus some! We all can agree that is the last thing we want to do.
Before deciding to jump on into an all out diet and workout regime, first evaluate yourself realistically. You may not need to lose any weight. Looking in the mirror and asking your friends or even asking the scale is not always the answer. Remember, muscle weights more than fat so you could have gained, but if you have been active, you may have built some muscle, not fat. So instead of asking your mirror, your friend, or your scale, ask a doctor.
No matter what, eating right and getting some exercise is good for you, but it is all about balance. Pushing yourself hard at the gym or on the track while running on coffee and herbal tea is not the way to go. Remember that when you are working out more, you will have a greater appetite. Eating a balanced diet of healthy carbs and protein is the way to go. But what does that really mean?
Fiber foods fill you! There are fruits, veggies, nuts and grains from almonds to zucchini that have high fiber foods that keep you feeling full. Eat healthy carbs from whole grain bread to a sweet potato. Lean protein is what helps build muscle so don’t forget lean meat such as turkey, skinless chicken breast, and tuna. If a vegetarian or vegan, replace that meat by stocking up on beans (and other meat substitutes)!
In terms of exercise, do not over do it but stay motivated. Try getting a workout buddy to ensure you make it to the gym 4-6 days a week. If working out is completely new to you, it is easy to push yourself hard, get frustrated, and quit. Try to build up slowly by walking flat then uphill for couple minutes then go back down again for cardio. If you’re a self-proclaimed gym-rat, do not push yourself too hard each day as your muscles do need a day of rest to recuperate and rebuild themselves. While lifting, you are actually tearing your muscles (hence the phrase “getting shredded.” This is why it is so important to mix up which parts of the body you will be working each day.
One tip that everyone could use is to DRINK MORE WATER. Water is your new best friend. Drinking water throughout the day, especially before a meal, will help you feel more full and satisfied. Throwing in a few lemon slices or a bit of fruit could zing up the boring drink if drinking straight water is just too bland. Your body also cannot build muscle if dehydrated. Dehydration leads to fatigue, which is something we are all trying to avoid.
So get out there. Do your research, talk to your doctors, and figure out what is best for you. Get healthy and do it safely.