Whether you want to tone your thighs or improve your diet, these fitness and nutrition tips will make you feel your healthiest. Find out which foods to eat and avoid, as well as which exercises will make your body beach-ready.
It's summer! Your wardrobe's flirty skirts, halter tops and swimsuits are raring to go—but are you? If you have a love-hate relationship with your stomach, bum, upper arms, thighs or calves, you're not alone. Many women crave the self-confidence required to wear summer's more body-conscious fashions, and it's easy to focus on what you don't like about your body.
Don't let your wobbly bits leave you hidden in the shade! Our experts can help you get toned
and gain body confidence with the following five quick nutrition and fitness fixes.
1. Eat smart
The old saying "You are what you eat" is true. "Eighty per cent of what you see [in the mirror] is a result of your eating," says Meghan Callaway, a personal trainer and nutrition coach based in North Vancouver. So the first step toward tackling your trouble spots is to steer clear of the calorie-laden meals that stand in the way of your becoming bikini-ready. Replace fast foods and sugary treats with healthier choices.
Sarah Remmer, a registered dietitian and nutrition coach based in Calgary, suggests focusing on vegetables, fruit and protein-rich foods. "Protein is digested slower than carbohydrates, therefore foods that are high in protein fill you up and keep you full longer. This helps you avoid overeating
, curbs cravings throughout the day and helps with weight loss," she explains.
Nutritious high-protein foods include eggs, fish, lean meat and low-fat dairy products, as well as beans, lentils and tofu. "Include a high-protein food at every meal and snack," says Remmer, "and you'll keep intense cravings and overeating at bay."
And don't forget breakfast! "Eating a healthy breakfast
within an hour of waking up is key to trimming up," says Remmer. The earlier you eat in the morning, the sooner your metabolism revs up and starts burning calories.
2. Banish the bloat
Want the quickest, easiest path to a slim stomach? Eliminate bloating. Remmer recommends avoiding carbonated beverages like pop and the artificial sweeteners found in chewing gum and sugar-free candies. Skip drinking with straws and avoid eating starchy foods such as pasta and white bread—they are all guilty of making your tummy bloat and appear larger than it actually is.
"Other ways to avoid bloating include drinking plenty of water throughout the day and having smaller meals and snacks," she says. "Large portions of any food will make you feel bloated."
3. Burn, baby, burn
If you want to shrink your bingo wings or saddlebags you'll have to break a sweat. "Doing cardio is crucial
if you want to burn off the layer of fat that's over your muscles," says Callaway. "You can do steady cardio where you're at the same intensity for the whole duration (30 minutes or longer) or you can do high-intensity interval training."
With interval training, you mix short bursts of intense activity with exercise at a slower pace. For example, try 30 seconds of fast running followed by 30 seconds of walking. Keep repeating this pattern and in as little as 15 minutes you'll burn a ton of calories. Facing a time crunch? Interval training packs plenty of workout punch into a short period of time.
To slim down your trouble spots, Callaway recommends doing cardio three to five days per week. The more cardio you do, the faster you'll see results in your upper arms, stomach, thighs, calves and bum.
4. Fit in exercise everywhere
While you're getting ready in the morning, while you're cooking in the kitchen—grasp any opportunity for some quick exercise.
"Do a wall sit while you're brushing your teeth
. Bend your knees to 90 degrees, slide down the wall and hold—it's basically a squat," says Callaway. "The goal is to sit the entire time you're brushing your teeth." This simple move works most of your lower body, including your thighs, glutes and core (stomach) muscles.
Callaway also recommends giving your arms a workout while whipping up dinner with 15 tricep dips on a kitchen chair or 15 pushups with your hands on the kitchen counter. Have stairs? Try doing 15 calf raises: Rise up on your toes and then drop your heels down below the stair's edge. Every little bit helps.
5. Snack to weight loss
According to Remmer, daytime snacking is a smart idea. "Ideally, for weight loss you should eat every three to four hours during the day," she says.
She suggests pairing protein-rich foods with fruits or vegetables. "Healthy swimsuit-friendly snacks
for weight loss include Greek yogurt with berries, raw carrot sticks with hummus or a hard-cooked egg and an apple," says Remmer.
If you get hunger pangs at night, she suggests having something light, such as yogurt, a piece of fruit with some peanut or almond butter, or steamed milk. "It's better to eat healthy, balanced and satisfying meals during the day with snacks in between—and to lighten up at night," Remmer says.
If you stick to these quick tricks you should notice a change in your appearance within two weeks. Goodbye, poolside coverup. Hello, bathing suit!