Thursday, February 4, 2010

How to get that SPRING body in 8 weeks

No matter what time of the year it is, it seems that the spring bathing suit panic, er, season, is just around the corner. As soon as we open that last Christmas present, it's time to make that New Year's Resolution to lose weight, trim up, get into shape, get healthier, or what have you. The thing is, long term weight loss plans rarely work. Why? Because we wait until the last minute to get into shape, fail, and then get discouraged. However, if you find that the season of swimsuits and sleeveless shirts is fast closing in upon you, you can actually turn the pressure into motivation. Give yourself eight weeks, and you'll be able to see results that will end with fewer tears in the dressing room come spring.  Check it out...

During the first two weeks, just work on revving up your routine again. If you are already maintaining a fitness or weight loss program, that's great. Just turn it up a notch with higher intensity workouts, longer sessions, more frequent trips to the gym, or whatever will force you to work a little harder during the home stretch. Chances are, however, that if you are reading this, your aren't already working out. If that's the case, start slowly. If you try to do too much, you'll give up quickly out of frustration. No one expects you to go from couch potato today to marathon runner tomorrow. Try taking a brisk, twenty minute walk after dinner for the first few days, and then try adding another brisk walk in the morning. At the same time, take a look at your diet and just begin taking note of things. When do you eat the most? What is your most vulnerable overeating time? Do you notice any patterns or habits that could be single handedly sabotaging your weight loss plan? Write it all down. Just practicing this habit every single day will cause you to make wiser dietary choices by simply making you more aware of what you are putting into your body.

During weeks three and four, it's time to step it up. Exercise every day for at least 45 minutes at as high an intensity as you are comfortable with (of course, talk to your doctor first if you have any pre-existing health problems or if it has been quite a while since you last exercised). Also, add a strength training routine that works all of the major muscle groups of the body. If you have a gym membership, ask a staff member to help you figure out what you can handle. If you are looking to do more than just tone (in other words, if you want to add muscle), be sure to add weight to your machines as you are able to in the following weeks. Otherwise, you can lift at close to the same weight level for the following weeks in order to simply tone and define your muscles. Either way, you will be quickly sculpting your body, and this is the quickest way to see results in your fitness program. Keep up with your strength training routine religiously, but do remember to give yourself 24 hours to recuperate between each session.

During the weeks five and six, start concentrating on really toning those body parts that matter most during hot weather months. We're talking about the chest, arms and abs for men, and the arms, abs, and legs for women. Take an honest look at yourself in the mirror and focus in on what body part needs the most work, while also taking into consideration how much that body part will actually be shown during the spring and summer. In other words, if your stomach seems to need the most help, but you have no desire to show it even if it were in good condition, move on to the next part. Many women often find that their arms are what they need to work on first, considering that it is difficult to conceal them when the weather is hot. Men often find themselves working on their chests, as swimming and other outdoor activities traditionally require them to expose that area. Whatever body part you decide is crucial, begin working on toning and sculpting it separately. If your arms need the most work, really pump them during your walks and do extra upper body exercises during your strength training. Give that part special attention for the next few weeks.

During weeks seven and eight, start increasing your intake of water even more (something you should have been doing all along), decrease your sodium intake, decrease your sugar intake, add more sculpting exercises to improve on your "crucial" areas (consider adding extras crunches, squats, and push-ups), and really focus in on toning. You won't be able to lose a substantial amount of weight in those last two weeks (probably not more than 2-4 lbs) so don't kill yourself in an attempt to do so. Work on improving the appearance of your body by shaping it and reducing flab. Also, keep in mind that muscle weighs more than fat, so you may not have lost as much weight as you would have liked, but you have converted fat into muscle, which is perfectly fine. In turn, muscle burns fat faster, so the more muscle you build, the better able you are to lose weight and keep it off.
At the end of eight weeks, you will notice a leaner, more toned body, and will hopefully (and most likely) have lost a few pounds of excess flab if you have watched your diet as well. Don't stop there, though. You can decrease the intensity of your workouts, but keep up an exercise and strength training routine for good. That way, come next spring, you won't have to work so hard to get ready. You'll already be there.