My Top 10 Tips to Being Healthy and Getting in Shape for Summer

exercise in the parkFor those of us in the southern hemisphere, summer is just around the corner. Well, really, summer here in Australia started a lot earlier this year. From early September (our first month of spring), the weather has been hot. Not hot as in “oh this is nice”, but HOT!

For many of us, Mother Nature got the jump on our spring workout, where we work vigorously for a few months to trim the extra pounds we have gained over winter. So, you may be sitting back and wondering how you are going to fit into your swimsuit now the warmer weather is upon us… well the  answer to this little conundrum is right here my friends.

Below are my top 10 tips for getting in shape for summer and also being healthy (yes, there is a difference  between looking good and feeling good!). While there are many different options for getting in shape, this is a good place to start.

1. Simple Mathematics
In order to gain/ maintain a healthy body, you need to burn more than or equal to the fuel that you put into your body. I know, you’ve heard it all before but it is true. If you insist on eating a chocolate bar, be prepared to put in the effort to burn it off…(It takes 50 mins of hardcore aqua-aerobics to burn off a Mars bar!)

Think about everything you eat throughout a day. Now, think about the amount of exercise you do in a day…Hmmm.

2. Exercise Like You Mean It
The latest health advice is to exercise for at least 40 mins a day. Let me tell you, walking around the block while chatting with a friend for 40 minutes just isn’t going to cut it. If you ain’t sweating, you ain’t working hard enough.

When you exercise, your heart rate needs to be raised to a level where your body is burning the fuel that you have  put into it and this needs to be maintained for at least 30-40 minutes (see point 1). Another bit of advice is to mix up your exercise routine. Take the time to plan out your exercise for the week and set yourself goals to measure yourself against. If you aim to do 60 sit ups on Monday, then push through to 65 if you feel that you can. It is the little bits extra that make the difference.

3. If Your Grandparents Don’t Know What It Is, Don’t Eat It
My nan eats well. She is 83 years young and she loves her food. I’ve never seen her go without anything she enjoys but what I do know is that the vast majority of the things she eats are actual foods and not food products. She eats fresh-baked bread everyday, with real butter. She eats meat. She eats cereals and indulges in the occasional cup of warm milk and homemade cake. Trick is, everything she eats is natural. She wasn’t raised on a diet of additives and preservatives, and she eats until she starts to feel full. Nothing more, nothing less. She is healthier than some of my 30 year old mates.

20130428_163505Eat fresh and eat plenty of it.

4. Contentious But True… Beer is Not Good for Your Wasteline
I know, I know.  Blah, blah, heard it all before. Ignore this point at your peril. I recently cut back (not gave up) and have dropped a few unwanted pounds. Set yourself a limit and make sure that you have at least four alcohol free days a week. Couple this rule with an increased exercise regime and you will notice the difference very quickly. I am not promising that you will look like Hugh Jackman but you will notice the difference.

5. Don’t Make Excuses Not to Exercise
How many of you know of someone who would rather die than take the stairs over the lift? Answer: The vast majority! If you live within walking distance of work, the supermarket or the pub then do yourself a favour and walk. Even if you only walk to work every second day, your body will thank you for it.

In today’s world, a good chunk of us who live in the Western World sit down for a living t a desk. This is not an activity your body was designed for! To compensate for this, you need to ensure that you are doing additional exercise to make up for the fact that you are sitting there for nine hours a day in a semi-dormant state.

6. Look at Your Eating Habits
Looking at what you eat is a great place to start, but you need to be aware of what you are eating and when you are eating it. Prime rule: don’t skip breakfast. You need to jump-start your body of a morning and get your metabolism firing on all cylinders. If you are a carb-conscious person then breakfast is when you want to be consuming your carbs. Try a bowl of fresh fruit, low-fat yoghurt and muslei for a start. A favourite of mine and will keep you going until lunch.

Lunch should be your largest meal of the day. Once you have had a few hours to digest lunch, you should be exercising to burn off any unused energy.

Dinner should be eaten at least three hours before you go to bed and should consist of a light meal. Do not eat heavy carbs such as pasta late of an evening and do not go to bed on a full stomach! In between your meals, snack on fresh fruit and unsalted nuts.

7. Exercise in a Group
Exercise for most of us is boring. Especially when it involves walking, running or anything else with a repetitive  movement. Find someone who is as motivated as you are and workout together. For those of you who are competitive, you will reap instant rewards. Having a workout buddy offers motivation to get out there and actually workout instead of just thinking about doing it.

8. Love Yourself
Nothing screams looking good like someone who is comfortable in their own skin. Each and every one of us is different. If we were all the same, the world would be boring. Learn to love yourself and love the body that you have been given. Being a healthy person is just as much, if not more so about having a healthy mind.

Being happy with the skin you are in will translate to motivation to get out there and exercise more and enjoy the sense of accomplishment that comes with it.

9. You Are What You Eat
Yep, you eat junk food as a staple, then guess what… You will look like and feel like rubbish. The fast food industry has a lot to answer for I believe, but that is a topic for another day.

If you eat a variety of fresh food, including loads of fresh vegetables and fruit everyday, then you will feel fresh and have the energy to accomplish everything you want to do. Fresh fruit and vegetables is not everyone’s favourite but it is by far and away the best fuel to keep you going and to keep the waste line intact. If you are not familiar with what is in everything you eat, then take the time to learn about what you are putting into your body. Try to avoid products that are packaged and contain preservatives. Never, ever drink sugar-based soft drinks.

20130625_183558Throw these into a pot with a whole, free-range chicken for a nutritious clear soup.

10. It Is All About Balance
Balance is the key to all things in life. It is the key to being healthy and it is the key to being happy. A healthy state of being is as much about building and maintaining a fit body as it is about knowing what is good for you and relaxing your regime and spoiling yourself to maintain your sanity. Enjoy that weekend beer or two but make sure you are disciplined enough to put in that little bit extra effort next time you workout.

Eating with your eyes… Which would you pick?

20130629_195317Home-made peri-peri chicken burgers with sweet potato (yam) fries.

greasy burgerTakeaway triple coronary…with cheese.

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