We all train and try to keep fit for a variety of different reasons: Health, weight loss, sport, to achieve a goal or simply for enjoyment. However one thing I think very few of us would deny is that we all like to look good, or as good as possible. That is especially the case as we move into summer. When the tree’s start to bloom, the sky brightens and the weather gets a bit warmer every lady I know swaps from winter wardrobe to summer wardrobe………often involving hours of deliberation and a great deal of standing in front of mirrors muttering to themselves.
It’s not just the ladies, us guys, or at least the vain ones like me, break out the t-shirts and shirts, and then stand side on to the mirror patting our guts and saying “I really must do something about this beer belly”.
However what so many people fail to realise is that by then it is almost certainly too late, or is going to take an incredible amount of hard work and self discipline to really make the changes you want in time to hit the beaches in great bikini shape for July/August.
There are a few points I would make here. Firstly so many people see fitness, weight and shape control as exactly what I’ve just described……a summer sport if you like. Something not to be thought about too much when the days are cold and nights are dark. Then panic sets in as soon as spring comes. Well it’s pretty clear that that is the wrong way to approach things. Rather than crash diets and crash fitness plans it’s far better to take a much more year round, lifestyle and holistic approach. In previous articles here and here I talked about why continually going on seasonal or crash diets don’t work and how by being consistent over the long term you can achieve amazing effects AND still lead a fun and treat filled life.
Secondly, by leaving things late you will have to work much harder, physically punish yourself much more and also be much more rigid in your eating plan. If you have any significant weight or fat to lose or intend to build any real noticeable muscle, then trying to do that in 8-12 weeks is so much more difficult than doing it over a 6 month period. By going more slowly you can gradually shed the weight, still eat healthily but also still allow yourself the odd blowout. You can also work more effectively on your fitness regime as you will have more time to build in both cardio and metabolic training to help you shed the pounds or kilo’s, as well as time for muscle building and toning to give your body the shape you want.
Finally, most people have more time in the winter. There are less BBQ’s to attend, holidays to go on, sunny evenings with friends and a bit less temptation to drive you off course. Even as a committed fitness fan I freely admit that when it is a sunny Sunday afternoon in the garden all I really want to do is crack open a couple of beers or get stuck into a nice chilled bottle of white wine, often washed down with some fattening snacks. In winter there is less cause to dress in your finery and go socialising and more chance to dig out the old tracksuits, set yourself some targets and warm yourself up by working hard. Then by Summer you can emerge like a Phoenix from the flames with a brand new set of feathers and looking magnificent (well that’s the plan at least).
So how should you go about this. Firstly you should spend five minutes giving some thought to and ideally writing down your goals. It could be as simple as “I want to fit in those skinny jeans that used to fit me”, or “I want to lose 20 lbs in weight”, or it could be something much more specific like I want to be able to run 5 miles and have built my shoulder, chest and arm muscles up significantly.
Then you simply break that down into workable and mouthful sized pieces. So if you want to lose 20lb in weight, that’s roughly 3.5 lb a month or just under 1lb a week. Believe me with some dietary changes and an increase in your exercise that is achievable for anyone over 6 months but would be far more difficult if not impossible in 8 weeks. Similarly if you hit the weights fairly hard in a structured programme, throw in some cardio and also make some changes in what you eat, then you can really transform your build and musculature over 6 months, much more so than you can do in 8-12 weeks.
The final and fun benefit of training hard in the winter is that it is hidden. Just think how you’ll feel Ladies on that first sunny weekend (about the end of June if you live in England) when you finally shed the heavy jumpers and wear a sleeveless blouse for the first time and all your friends gasp at how you have traded in your batwings for svelte and toned arms…….it can be done. So what you really need to do, as with almost everything I advise is change your mind set. It’s September now, the dark days are coming (if you’re in the northern hemisphere at least). Plan ahead. Picture how you want to look and feel by May/June next year and put your plan into practice now. Summer bodies are built in Winter so this Winter make it count!!
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