It may sound crazy but summer is just around the corner. With just a couple of months until we’re blessed with some sunshine and summer holidays, it’s time for some of us who’ve fallen off the routine to get back to training and eating right to achieve that summer body!
Finding external influence(r)s is a fantastic way to gather a little bit of motivation. Whether it be looking back over past photos and gaining a boost in confidence to achieve those results again, or even watching content of your favourite fitness youtuber. Motivation can come from a number of sources and definitely has its place in pushing you to get involved a little bit more.
Although it is beneficial to gather motivation sometimes when you can’t find the energy to get off the couch and into the gym, it’s important to understand that motivation is often short-lived. It’s great that we can watch videos and read quotes and suddenly feel an urge to try harder, but realistically we need to adapt our lifestyles in order to dedicate ourselves towards achieving our goals otherwise the chances of success are fairly slim.
In order to truly stay dedicated to a fitness and nutrition regime, you must first believe you can achieve the results, and then structure your life so that training and nutrition become part of your routine and not just a part-time thing. Habits are created by continually performing the same actions, and usually it takes 3 weeks for an action to become a habit. What we want, is for our training and nutrition to become a habit in aid of progressing towards our goals.
Staying dedicated requires a level of discipline, so if you regularly consume alcohol 3, 4, 5 times a week, then you’ll need to be tough on yourself and start to decrease the avoidable excess calories by reducing your drinking to 1-2 days per week. This doesn’t just go for excess calories consumed through drinking, it counts for all forms of unnecessary excess calories that could push you out of a calorie deficit and sabotage your progress, such as snacking and not controlling your portions.
Food is Fuel
I understand that eating less and opting for healthier choices isn’t exactly fun, so I’m about to give you some leeway. Food is required by the body to be converted into energy; we have three main groups of food which the body requires in order to sustain normal functions, these are fats, protein and carbohydrates.
If you give your body enough protein to maintain your muscle mass, you’ll only need to worry about your total amount of calories in order to lose fat when in a deficit. You should aim to consume 0.8-1.2g of protein per pound of lean body mass (LBM). Once you’ve nailed your protein target, you can have a bit of freedom with the foods you choose to eat, as long as you stay within a deficit of calories by the end of the day.
This means that getting that summer body doesn’t necessarily mean you need to eat healthy sources of food all of the time. Ideally, you should use the 80%/20% approach, where 80% of the calories you consume are gathered from whole/healthy sources, and the remaining 20% can come from your favourite snacks and sweets. The key is to remember that as long as you consume the correct number of calories and you hit your protein intake, you’ll be on the right lines. Of course, it’s very important to get some fibre into your diet, and to drink plenty of water too!
So, dieting doesn’t mean your diet has to be full of boring foods! Set aside your 20% and use it to indulge in your favourite foods each day
Goals & Recording Your Progress
Many people fail on their summer shredding journey because they have only outlined their long-term goal. It’s important that you have short and medium-term goals as well as an end result goal to keep you interested in the process. If you’re looking to drop your body fat percentage as much as possible by a specific date, you should definitely monitor it weekly or at least fortnightly so that you can see your progress and reinforce why you’re exercising and eating the way you are.
Another method of recording your progress is by taking before/during and after photographs. By giving yourself physical evidence of your progress, this will enable you to really visualise how far you’ve gotten and remind you of how much effort you’ve put in along the way. You don’t have to share your progress photos with anyone, but you may be so proud of yourself that you can’t resist it!
Other methods of recording progress include measuring certain areas of your body (e.g.: waist, arms and thighs) and weighing yourself. Although, you shouldn’t concentrate too much on your weight, as that can fluctuate a lot due to water retention, and even raise due to muscle growth while dieting in some cases!
Closely behind ensuring you’re in a calorie deficit, your training plan is extremely important in aiding you towards your summer body goal. Make sure your training plan consists of exercises and activities that you actually enjoy! There’s nothing worse than dragging yourself to the gym to perform a workout that you don’t even enjoy. You shouldn’t feel like training is a chore, in fact, we’re all very lucky that we have such fantastic facilities practically on our doorsteps.
Decide what type of training you enjoy the most. If you have a passion for boxing, then add in some sparring or bag-work. If you enjoy running, incorporate a scenic route to your training regime that you enjoy viewing. If you enjoy pushing your muscles and witnessing improvements in your strength and muscle size, incorporate plenty of resistance training.
By exercising and working your muscles, you’ll benefit your body composition more than solely introducing a deficit of calories through a dieting approach. Burning calories through exercise gives you the option to eat more if you exercise enough too.
Get yourself a training partner. If you prefer having someone to compete against, or even to just help push you, you should definitely start training with a friend.
Take Home Message: A Final Few Tips
- Drink at least 2L of water each day.
- Find a training plan that suits you (and is fun).
- Train with a friend.
- Alter your routine to create a habit.
- Don’t limit your food choices; eat what you enjoy! Just eat the right amounts.
- Make plenty of goals.
- Stay dedicated.
- If you’ve gotten this far, it’s time to put in the effort!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
George Platt (BA, Hons.) is a Personal Trainer, Online Coach and Fitness/Nutrition Writer. George’s passion for physical activity and health developed from a young age after having open heart surgery. You can find out more about George via his website or Instagram: @GeorgePFitness93.