I should start this blog off by mentioning that I am in no way a fitness expert. Yes, I have been exercising and active in a number of sports since I could walk, but I've never been certified in any sort of fitness or nutritional field of study.
That said, there are lots of different ways to get/maintain a beach body (and since we live in Penticton, home to TWO beaches, there's a chance you'll end up on one at some point) but diet and exercise sometimes carries a stigma of being "difficult" or "time consuming". Well here's 5 tips that are nice and easy and can help you stay in shape.
1. Plan your meals for the day: The idea of "three meals a day" is so old school and outdated. The best way to keep your metabolism moving is to have 6 to 8 smaller meals throughout your day. Carbohydrates are a good source of energy, so you'll want to consume those earlier in the day so they have time to metabolize (break down) in your system. Oatmeal, whole wheat bread and brown rice are all great carbohydrate options. As the day goes on, you'll want to have smaller snacks and meals focusing on protein. Protein helps repair your muscles after workouts and build new tissue. Chicken, Fish, and Egg Whites are all excellent sources of protein. Also, snacks should be portion controlled. Instead of a big bag of potato chips, why not a handful of baby carrots? Instead of a chocolate bar, how about an apple? There are lots of options.
If you're on Twitter (and who isn't, am I right?) I suggest following Eat This Not That for lots of helpful food tips.
If you know what you're going to eat throughout the day and when, you're less likely to "impulse snack".
Sometimes, we eat and we don't know why, usually, this is because we're looking for something to do with our mouths. Try chewing sugar free gum. You might see you're not as hungry as you thought.
2. Set a workout time, and stick to it: Routine is key here. If you have a strict schedule from day-to-day, figure out the best time to work out, and make sure you don't skip it. If you have a schedule that changes from day-to-day, find a time that you consistently have to yourself, and make that your workout time. For me, I workout first thing in the morning, so that I can get my day going. I found that when I set my gym time for after work, I was more likely to skip it because "I had a long day" or "I had errands to run", but once I started getting up an hour earlier and working out first, I still had time to relax or run my errands after work. Exercise also helps you wake up and gives you a positive start to your day.
Here's a great article from The Art Of Manliness on the advantages of having a morning and evening routine.
3. Take the time to unwind: Stress leads to many things. Among them weight gain and eating. Sure, there are lots of things to worry about in today's world. "Are all the bills paid?" "Does that girl want me to call her? Or is she going to reject me?" "I don't know what to do to get ahead in my job"....you get the idea. We should all give ourselves a break from all of that once a day. Find a spot where you can have some quiet time to clear your head and take a breather. Look into Yoga or meditation techniques. Grab your ipod and go for a walk/rollerblade/bike ride. Make it your goal to just forget about all of your nagging issues and enjoy life for what it is.
4. Don't be intimidated at the gym: A lot of people get to the gym, and start to panic. There's so many people here! They're in way better shape than me! That guy can lift way more than me! What if they judge me? Don't worry about any of that. You're not there for them, are you? Most of the people in the gym are just as insecure as you are, and are too busy worrying about themselves to judge you. If you spend more time worrying about what others think of what you look like or how much you can lift, your progress will be slower, or worse, you could hurt yourself. And even if someone is judging you, who cares? That's their hangup.
Here's an article from Muscle & Strength on how to maximize your gym time.
5. Laugh: It seems so simple. But we really don't laugh as much as we should. Think about the last time you had an uncontrollable fit of laughter. I'm not talking a chuckle, I'm talking "Please help me, I can't stop, I don't even remember what was so funny" laughing fits. These usually start with a case of the giggles right? And next thing you know, you have tears streaming down your face, your tummy hurts, and you feel GREAT. The saying "Laughter is the best medicine" is very true. As outlined in this Helpguide.org article, laughter relaxes your body, boosts your immune system, makes you feel good, and on top of all that, it's a killer ab workout.
These are just a few things that I've found help keep me happy, and in shape, and if you give them a try, you might find they work pretty well for you too. And remember, we all slip up. Miss a workout here, eat some junk food there. We're HUMAN. We're allowed to slip up. Just don't make slipping up part of the routine. Reward your progress. Set short term goals and give yourself a reason to reach them.
Have fun with it. We only get one shot at this life thing!