Last month we told you how keeping a food diary and making a few simple changes to what you eat and drink can help you to kick start your summer shape-up.
This month we tell you how making some lifestyle changes will kick start a healthy new you. It will take some dedication, planning and hard work but you can do it.
Focus on making small changes that you can maintain
- Instead of driving, walk to your destination or park further away than you normally do and walk the rest of the way.
- If you use the train or bus to commute, get off a few stops earlier and walk or run home.
- Do chores around the house, this will burn more calories than you think. Pop on some music and dance around whilst cleaning – don’t worry I’m sure no one will be watching.
- Use your lunch break to go for a brisk walk.
- Take the stairs instead of using the lift or escalator.
If you’re looking to tone up, yoga and Pilates are both fantastic ways to do this. All you require is a mat and adequate floor space and both are easy to adapt to your own fitness levels. You will be able to achieve lean muscles and improve your posture, flexibility and mood.
Many gyms and health centres hold exercise classes for toning but you could quite easily do this yourself at home. As with all exercises you should start off slow and pay attention to your form, especially if you have lower back or neck problems. If you have any health concerns you should always consult your doctor before you start any physical activity.
Work your core
- Crunches are a fantastic way to target your abs and once you master the simple version you can add in side crunches, twist crunches and reverse crunches. If you have back problems you could do crunches on an exercise ball as it will help support your back.
- Bridge position is not only good for your abs but it also helps to strengthen your lower back. To increase the difficulty and intensity change to a single leg bridge where you slowly raise and extend one leg at a time, this helps to strengthen the glutes and hamstrings and is a powerful core strengthener.
- Planks not only tone the abs they also strengthen your back. To start off, hold the position for 20 seconds at a time. Remember to keep your body in a straight line and avoid letting your hips sag. Over time increase the amount of time you hold the plank. You can also add in the side plank which engages the muscles that support your core.
Banish those bingo wings
- Push ups target yours arms, chest and shoulders and will help to tone your biceps, triceps and also strengthen your back. I would aim for 3 set of 10 to 15 reps. You don’t need to do the manly push ups for them to be effective but you do need to do them properly and focus on your form to notice a different.
- Lifting weights are not just for bulking muscles. A lot women worry about using weights as they think they will get big, but this is simply not the case. Doing more repetitions using a lighter weight will help to create lean muscle whilst using heavier weights with little repetitions will help to bulk up your muscles. The best exercises to do are tricep extensions, bicep curls, kickbacks and front raises. These will tone your existing muscle and give shape and definition to your arms.
Strengthen your legs
- Squats are a powerful workout as they work the major muscle groups of your hips, bum and thighs and are a fantastic way to tone and strengthen your legs and give you an instant bum lift. Squats are versatile and can be done anywhere and without the use of equipment.
- Burpees will not only have your legs looking toned but will give you a full body workout and are a great fat burner. No other exercise works all the bodies muscle groups whilst at the same time improving your stamina and cardiovascular conditioning.
- Lunges use your own body weight and are especially good for beginners. They not only build up lean muscles in your legs and tone you bum but they also help with coordination, flexibility and posture. There are so many different types of lunges. To begin with, start with stationary or walking lunges. As you progress and get stronger you could add in twist lunges, side lunges and reverse lunges.
Getting regular exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. If you’re looking to lose weight try to do 30 minutes of cardio three to five times a week. Exercises like running, cycling, swimming, walking and gym classes will improve your cardiovascular health, increase your metabolism and help you shed some weight.
If you have trouble staying motivated on your own, join a gym, not only will being around other people encourage you to exercise but as you’re paying membership fees you will want to get your money’s worth.
Another bonus of joining a gym is that you will be able to try out different classes and find one that you really enjoy. This way you’ll be more likely to stick at it. All gyms will do an induction when you join so you will be able to familiarise yourself with the cardio equipment and many will write out a personal exercise plan. The treadmill, cross trainer and stationary bike are fantastic ways to burn fat.
Ask a friend or family member to exercise with you. This will help keep you both motivated and you will be more inclined keep active as you won’t want to let each other down. And you can’t beat a little bit of friendly competition.
Exercise in any form can act as a great stress reliever as happy hormones known as endorphins are released into your body. These will boost your mood and distract you from life’s daily worries.
Let us know your bikini body health and fitness ideas.