Photography, Geoffrey Ross Image by: Photography, Geoffrey Ross
"Looking better naked is about getting to know yourself and listening to your body," says Danielle Greco, registered holistic nutritionist and co-owner of 4 the Luv of Food, a company that focuses on feeling good in the buff by learning to balance foods appropriately rather than depriving yourself of them.
"Once you recognize what your body needs, your whole mindset changes," she says. We crave things based on nutritional deficiencies. For example, a craving for sweets might mean you have a carbohydrate deficiency.
Think wisely when crafting a low-fat alternative to what your body is really craving, because if you never give in, "you'll always feel unsatisfied and wanting more," says Greco. So if you're cruising for cheesecake, take a bite, but eat it consciously, she says. (Read: Do not stuff it into your face while leaning over the sink.)
While dropping 15 pounds in one month may seem tempting, your fantasies of frolicking on the beach sans sarong will be fleeting, says Chris Cristini, personal trainer and owner of Reebok CrossFit East Woodbridge.
"Being on a restrictive diet and following a rigorous fitness plan will make you miserable, and the weight will come creeping back,"he explains.
Instead, be realistic and set a goal, knowing that it might not be achieved for six months or even a year. The focus should be on a lifestyle change. Greco echoes this sentiment. "When you're making a body transformation, you have to be patient." Remember, if you deprive your body with a super strict crash diet and you see a sudden drop in numbers on the scale, it's your body 45 releasing water, muscle and vital tissue -- not fat, she says.
Small and mighty
You've been sweating it out for what seems like forever, but the scale has only budged three pounds. When you feel like throwing in the towel, toss it in the washing machine instead to get ready for your next workout.
Don't discount those small shifts in weight because, over time, they all add up (much like the calories in all those tiny TimBits you mindlessly munch on during meetings).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who lose weight slowly and steadily are more successful at keeping it off. If you're a visual person, try writing down your workouts on a calendar or posting your goals on a vision board.
Burn, Baby, Burn!
If you want to look toned and lean, try circuit training, says Cristini. "It provides a balance of both cardio and weight training, so you'll tone muscles and drop weight at the same time," he explains.
"Lunging and running are also great ways to get svelte. And CrossFit workouts offer total-body conditioning, since the repetitive, intense motions of exercises such as box jumps and burpees put a constant demand on your muscles."
Getting enough sleep is just as important to losing weight as moving more, according to a recent study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
When your body lacks sleep, your appetite-regulating hormones are thrown into a tailspin, causing you to reach for sugary sweets for a jolt of energy -- and potentially creating a cycle of poor eating because you'll crash again after your sugar high.
The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recently found evidence linking partial sleep deprivation to energy imbalance. The Canadian Obesity Network has also included adequate sleep in its new set of obesity management tools for physicians. So when you're exhausted and feeling stressed about fitting in one more workout before the week's end, consider sleeping the extra hour instead.
Back it Up
For overall health (and a better behind), "the squat is king," says Cristini. "It's the biggest bang for your buck, because it uses the most amount of muscle in one single movement."
A weighted squat also challenges your middle, which is great news if you feel like a slave to crunches. "Because you're placing a load on your spine, your core and back muscles are being worked, since the whole purpose of the core muscles is to stabilize your spine."
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