By: Darrell W. Butler
ACE, NFPT, ISCA Certified Personal Trainer
In case you were confused by the frigid temperatures in many parts of the world right now, summertime is right around the corner (June 20)! That means that the months of hiding behind layers of clothing and heavy jackets are over. Instead, every extra pound will be out there on full display, spilling over your jeans and out of your bathing suits…yay.
It’s a cruel catch-22 if you really think about it. Why does the season when we wear the least have to be filled with so many delicious temptations? From ice cream to frozen drinks and barbeques, summertime has a million tasty ways to pack on the pounds.
At least during the winter you might actually want to stay inside to work up a sweat; but during the summer, many people struggle even harder to find the motivation to hit the gym. Between our jobs, social obligations, yard work and sporting events for the kids, the excuses to slack off are endless. However, as a certified fitness trainer, I can never allow “time” to be used as an excuse for any of my clients.
With that said, here are 10 simple ways to cheat fitness into your daily routine so you can stay on track no matter how busy things get this season!
1. Wake up 10-15 minutes earlier. Set the alarm a few minutes earlier and start your day by performing 2-3 quick circuits of bodyweight squats, lunges, push-ups, dips, crunches and leg raises.
If any of those exercises sounded like gibberish to you, definitely stay tuned for our upcoming video section, where I’ll demonstrate this and other workouts for you. In the meantime, you may want to check out your local book or grocery store for fitness magazines that might provide you with a few ideas. You can also pick up a fitness video to workout along with.
Even if you don’t finish the entire routine, something is always better than nothing. The bottom line is to get your body moving and kick-start your metabolism to burn fat right from the get-go.
2. Pack your own lunch, and bring healthy snacks to work with you. This will help you avoid ordering out or making bad choices throughout the day at the vending machine. This will also help you save money and become more organized, so it’s a win across the board.
3. Drink lots of water. Aside from aiding with digestion and other bodily functions, water also helps to curb cravings. This is especially true when combined with fiber, which expands in your stomach giving your brain the sensation that you’re full. This too will help you avoid that dreaded vending machine and may even empower you to say “no” to that office birthday cake.
4. Park far away and take the stairs. Instead of circling the parking lot in search of the closest spot to the office, head straight for the last spot and force yourself to do a little walking. If your building has more than one floor, skip the elevator and take the stairs for a change. You’ll burn more calories and firm up your backside in the process, so it’s another win-win scenario!
5. Take a hike! Instead of surfing the internet at your desk after lunch, head outside and walk around a bit. If you’re used to chatting it up with coworkers during lunch, take them with you! Just make sure to pack appropriate footwear since you’re not likely to get very far in a pair of 4” stilettos…
6. Just say “no” to regular joe. Regular coffee, especially specialty coffees tend to create major shifts in your energy level, resulting in unnecessary stress to your body. If you just love the taste, give decaf a try. If you are in fact using coffee for energy however, try an herbal tea which has antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients that will keep you awake just as effectively but won’t clog your system with wasted calories.
7. “Power-up” your commute. If you live close enough to walk or bike to work, that’s a simple way to get in a quick workout that also serves a purpose. For the rest of us who have to drive to work, make use of the time by flexing your abs for 10 second intervals and squeezing the steering wheel to flex your arms for 10 second intervals.
You can even time your little routine out to songs on the radio if you’d like. Considering the fact that I’ve witnessed people texting, putting on makeup and reading while driving, this is a much safer use of your time, and at least it forces you to keep you hands on the steering wheel where they actually belong!
8. Mind your posture. Are you the type who slouches at your desk? Aside from sapping your energy, you’re missing out on a great way to strengthen your core and even make you appear taller! Try sitting and standing upright all day to engage those stomach and lower back muscles while burning a few extra calories in the process.
9. Rally the troops! Instead of zoning out on the couch watching television after dinner, why not actively bond with your family and take advantage of the great weather outside? Play a game in the backyard or ride your bikes around the neighborhood. Not only is it a much better use of your time, it’ll encourage healthy habits for your entire family and create memorable shared experiences to last a lifetime.
10. Write a diary. No, not like Gossip Girl; a food diary! Tracking what you’re eating is the fundamental element of nearly every successful nutrition plan. Until you’re aware of your bad habits, you’ll never be able to correct them.
Try downloading a food tracking application for your smart phone or go “old-school” and just grab a notebook. Keep this with you and literally write down every single food or liquid that you place into your mouth throughout the day. Also be sure to include the time, serving size and whether it was an exercise day or not. With this information you’ll be able to either analyze the information yourself or share it with an expert.
In the upcoming months I’ll go into even greater detail on nutrition principles. For now however, just seeing what you’re doing will already cause you to make smarter choices and alert you of any trends that need to be corrected.
Losing weight and building muscle can often seem like a daunting task, but you have to start somewhere right? By incorporating even a few of these healthy habits, you’ll be well on your way towards achieving that bathing suit body despite your busy schedule. Maybe this won’t be such a cruel summer after all!