Six Weeks, Six Pounds

Six Tips to Help You Shape Up for Summer

Dreading swimsuit season? The days are getting longer and the weather is warming up – which means you can’t hide under that heavy winter clothing for much longer. With about six weeks to go before the start of summer, now is the time to get started. Last minute efforts often mean a lot of sacrifice and little payoff – but if you start now, there’s still time to safely shed some of that extra winter padding.

“The threat of a warmer climate and skimpier clothing sends people into a ‘get slim quick’ frenzy,” says Samantha Clayton, director, fitness education at global nutrition company, Herbalife. “But trying to lose more than one or two pounds a week isn’t advisable, or safe,” she adds.

A two-pronged approach of diet and exercise is the way to get results. But if you haven’t worked out for a while, you’ll want to take it slow and steady. “If you jump into a fitness routine that’s too difficult, you’re unlikely to sustain it,” Clayton says.

The same holds true for diet. “Many people are in such a hurry to drop weight that they cut their calories too far,” notes Susan Bowerman, MS, RD. “Not only can they not keep up with such a strict plan,” she adds, “they just don’t have the energy to get through their day, not to mention trying to get through a strenuous workout.”

Clayton and Bowerman agree that with careful attention to ‘calories in – calories out,’ most people should be able to lose about a pound a week. Here are six of their best tips to help you look your best when summer arrives:

Start right away. Wishing and daydreaming about having a perfect body in time for summer is not going to get you any closer to your goal. So get started today. If it’s been a while since you’ve been active, a simple walk or bike ride is a perfect place to start.

Prioritize the changes you want to make. Then, tackle the easier ones first. If skipping breakfast is your problem, make a point to start the day with a healthy, protein-rich meal that will keep hunger away until lunch. Try some cottage cheese or yogurt with fruit; maybe a protein shake made with milk, protein powder and fresh fruit; or a simple egg white omelet.

Take it slow and steady. Jumping into a fitness routine that is too difficult often backfires. If you take on too much, too soon, the resulting sore muscles – or even injury - may derail your plans. Aiming for 30 minutes of activity a day is a great starting point.

Have a plan. In order for your body to change, your workout must change as you adapt to your new increased activity. As you get fitter and your workout seems easier, you can increase your intensity or duration to push your body to improve.

Resist the temptation to weigh too often. Weight can fluctuate, so jumping on the scale every day may not be the best indicator of your progress. Rather than focusing on weight loss, pay attention to your other achievements – the ease of lifting more weights, improvements in your diet, or the inches you’re losing around your waistline.

Keep a log to stay motivated. Keeping track of what you eat and how much exercise you get is one of the key components to successful weight loss. And do it every day. Write it all down honestly, and give yourself a pat on the back when you’re good. But don’t beat yourself up when you’re not. Tomorrow is another day.

“The truth is, there are no short cuts,” says Clayton. “You may not get a ‘six-pack’ in six weeks,” she notes, “but wouldn’t it feel great to drop a few pounds and feel more fit when summer comes?”

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