No two word combination can strike fear into the hearts of women faster than “bikini season.” Though it comes around each year, somehow it has a way of sneaking up on us. With spring now in full effect, there is no more opportunity to put the gym off “just one more month.” It’s time to get ready for summer and all the bare skin it brings with it! Not sure where to start? Here are six ways to feel and look better by bikini season.
1. Watch Your Calorie Intake…But Don’t Slow Down Your Metabolism
One of the most common mistakes women make when they are trying to lose weight is cutting back their food and calorie intake too much. While this kind of starvation diet may seem like the fastest and easiest way to lose weight it can actually be counterproductive. When you restrict too heavily, your body goes into starvation mode and holds on to the fat for energy storage fearing it won’t have another meal for some time. Your metabolism does a nose dive and eventually you could actually start losing muscle and permanently damaging your body.
So how many calories should you be consuming while watching your waistline?
Many fitness professionals recommend somewhere between 1,000 to 1,200. Your age, weight, fitness routines and other habits may influence this number as well. The main thing to remember is to cut out unnecessary calories. Before eating something tempting, think about your body and its needs. Craving a soda? Think again. Soda provides the body with empty calories and even diet soda can cause blood sugar levels to spike from the artificial sweeteners. This can lead to full blown sugar cravings and no one wants to deal with that! Try also eliminating unhealthy snacks and go against the old advice of “cleaning your plate.” Leave a little behind. As Americans, our portions have grown much larger than our nutritional needs. Manage your own portion control no matter what is put on your plate.
2. Exercise Harder, Not Longer
What’s better, an hour and a half low impact workout or a 30 minute intense boot camp? While you may think that working out longer = better fitness and more calories burned, that’s not always the case. More and more fitness trainers are stressing this fact and shorter workouts and boot camps are everywhere you look. That’s because high intensity training produces the best results. This doesn’t mean you have to give up your 60 minute Zumba class, but throw in some resistance training or boot camp classes to round it out.
Have you ever seen people who are what our culture has collectively deemed “skinny fat”? These are individuals who are thin but have no real muscle tone or definition, which makes them appear heavier and out of shape. This is often caused by poor nutrition and lack of a well rounded training program. When you are soaking up sun pool or ocean side, the last thing you want is that dreaded fat jiggle. Don’t focus on getting thin, focus on toning up all your muscles with high intensity interval training. This can be accomplished in as little as 30 minutes a day, 3 to 4 days a week.
3. Cut Back on Carbs
Who doesn’t love pasta? But alas…in the face of bikini season it’s time to let those bad carbohydrates go. Now, those who tell you that all carbs are bad carbs are lying (thank goodness)! In fact, our bodies require some carbohydrates in order to function. It’s suggested that the nutritional breakdown be as follows for adults – 45% – 65% of calories should come from carbohydrates, 20% – 35% from fat and 10% – 35% from protein.
So what are “good carbs”? Essentially, good carbohydrates are those that come from plant based food and deliver not only carbs but fiber as well as vitamins and minerals. These include grains, fruits, veggies and beans. The only way we can get fiber is through plant foods and this is extremely important for not only our health, but for weight maintenance and loss as well. To help the body convert carbs into energy rather than fat, many nutritionists and fitness experts recommend consuming a protein with these good carbohydrates.
4. Get a Support System
While getting ready for bikini season, buddy up with other like-minded friends who are working toward the same goal – rocking that bikini with confidence! Having a support group not only helps with accountability, but with motivation as well. If you are struggling to get up for that early morning class or dragging yourself to the gym after a long work day, knowing that your friends will be there too and are facing the same challenges can really help.
While choosing your nutrition plan and exercise are paramount, so is choosing your workout buddy. He or she will be there with you every step so it’s important to make sure that their goals and motivation level match yours. You want to be able to call one another in moments of weakness (a tray of brownies starting you in the face at the office) and in moments of triumph (seeing results on the scale). In addition to working out together, if meal times or evenings are challenging, have a night (or several nights) a week where you cook and socialize together. Unfortunately, it’s human nature for some outside of your support group to try and sabotage you from your more structured eating. Avoid these distractions and temptations. You are on your way to feeling and looking stronger and more fit. With a strong support system in place, you will be able to meet your bikini season goals much easier.
5. Plan a Trip or Event
Once you have your support system, meal plan and fitness schedule firmly in place, try motivating yourself with an “end date” of sorts. Now this doesn’t mean you will stop your bikini body ways once that date comes, but planning a trip, pool party or other special event can help you keep your eyes on a date and tangible goals to get yourself there by that time. “Bikini season” is a bit vague, so come up with a date by which you are ready to bare your beautiful skin. Nutritionists don’t recommend losing more than a pound in one week so use this as a rule of thumb for timing when planning out your trip. Visualize how great it will feel to strut your stuff in your new bikini body. Speaking of new bikini’s, buy a new suit for your trip or party, hang it in your room (or kitchen if snacking is an issue) to literally keep your eye on the prize.
6. Try CoolSculpting
If you have tried everything from reducing calories, increasing exercise and generally leading a more active lifestyle and still see those love handles, don’t be discouraged. Some women (and men too) have a difficult time getting those last inches and pounds to budge no matter what they do. Stubborn fat is something that can be remedied without going under the knife. One of the most popular therapies for this issue is called CoolSculpting. Unlike other “fat blasting” procedures that can actually damage other tissue in the body, this process is an FDA-cleared procedure that actually freezes the fat cells. Once these cells are frozen, they die and naturally are eliminated from your body. You don’t have downtime, scars or pain. The appointments are short and can fit easily into your schedule (about an hour) and you will begin seeing results after the first visit, though months later with continued CoolScupting therapy you will see your clothes (and that hot new bikini) fitting much better.
Now that you have these tools in front of you, map out your game plan, find workout buddies and pick out that new bikini! You are just a few months away from feeling and looking better.