Swimsuit Season: Are you ready?
Warmer days are on the way, and that means one thing: Swimsuit season is here. Don’t worry. Commit to getting fit, eating healthy foods and being fabulous with just a few daily tweaks.
1. Choose whole, unprocessed foods
When it comes to healthy eating, you have to take a good look at what you’re putting in your mouth. Skip the frozen pizza and ice cream. Whole, unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean meats and moderate amounts of complex carbs including lentils, brown rice and yams are sound choices.
Whole foods keep you fuller longer thanks to fiber, and they pack a punch of nutrients that may not be as plentiful in packaged foods. “You get the benefit of nutrients found in whole foods, especially fruits and vegetables, which can help prevent diseases like cancer. These nutrients are more powerful and beneficial to your overall health when eaten in their natural form, instead of taken in pill form as supplements,” said Dorothy McFadden, a bariatric (weight loss) dietitian at St. Luke’s University Health Network. “In season, fresh produce is best, as it contains the most nutrients and will taste better.”
Always on the go? No problem. “Packaged nuts, string cheese or prepackaged low- fat cheeses are a good idea,” McFadden said. “Fruit is portable and doesn’t need to be refrigerated. The same for vegetables like baby carrots or celery.”
2. Go with H20
This back-to-basics approach applies to beverages, too. Instead of drinking those sugar-loaded mochas or smoothies high in liquid calories, opt for calorie-free beverages such as water or nutrient-dense beverages including nonfat milk or soy milk.
The benefits of water go beyond calories. “The body is composed of approximately 60% water, so hydration is very important for blood volume and kidney function,” McFadden said. “Many people walk around with mild dehydration and don’t even realize they are experiencing symptoms: fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite, dry mouth or headache.”
3. Keep a food journal
It’s simple: To lose weight, you have to create a calorie deficit. So a combination of portion control and exercise will help you on your weight-loss journey. But what about your split-second decision to supersize last night’s drive-through meal? Minor choices can add up to major calories. Use a food journal to track what you eat. You can download a tracking app such as MyFitnessPal or Lose It! to your smartphone or tablet. “It keeps you accountable,” McFadden said. “It educates you on where you’re getting calories and it also allows you to see patterns.”
“Research has shown that individuals who food journal will lose almost double the weight compared to those who do not food journal while on a diet,” McFadden said.
4. Work it out
The U.S. Surgeon General’s Active Living guidelines recommend that adults do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week such as walking 3 mph, bicycling 9 mph, hiking or light strength training. So what to do when a busy schedule has you bailing on your workouts? “I encourage something as brief as 10- minute intervals throughout the day,” McFadden said.
Ideally exercise should include a variety of activities. Whether you’re into interval training, weightlifting, Pilates or Zumba, shake up your routine often to stave off boredom and achieve your goals. “Changing exercise increases the calories burned, as the body becomes more efficient at doing the same activity,” she said.
5. Buddy up
Workout buddies can keep you accountable and motivated. “I meet my workout buddy at 5:30 a.m. at the corner for my morning jog,” McFadden said. “There are many mornings I may not have gotten up if I didn’t know she would be waiting at the corner for me.”