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Shape Up for Summer

Shape Up for Summer

It’s hard to believe that swimsuit season is upon us yet again! While we all know we should be eating well and exercising year round, the thought of wearing shorts, tank tops and swimsuits seems to provide that extra spark of motivation for being in even better shape during the summer months. So harness that motivation, and check out my 4 summer shape-up principles so you can be on the fast track to a fitter, more confident you. Who knows, you might just be strutting your stuff in that new swimsuit by Memorial Day!

Principle #1 – Plan it out and write it down

Research shows that people who plan their activities and meals ahead of time tend to stick to those plans, especially when they commit their goals and plans to paper. So if your goal is to lose 5 pounds by June 1, write it down in a notebook or somewhere that will serve as a good reminder for yourself. Then write down 3 things you can do to make your goal a reality. Here is an example:

Goal: Lose 5 pounds by June 1st

Plans to achieve my goal:
1. Exercise at least 30 minutes daily at the gym
2. Pack my lunch instead of going out to lunch during the work week
3. I will eat 3 meals daily, with snacks between meals

So now that you have a plan, it is up to you to make those things happen. And the best way to hold yourself accountable for your actions is to track your activity and meals in a journal, notebook or diary. Write down everything you eat and drink throughout the day, even if you accidentally eat something that is “off plan”. That’s okay – you are doing this to find out what your strengths and weaknesses are so that you can make changes moving forward so you WILL meet your goals! It is also very helpful to track your exercise in this way too. And when you track your meals and exercise together, you get a clear view of how well you are sticking to your plan.

Principle #2 – Be active, but de-stress and rest

By now, we all know that exercise is important to healthy weight loss. Not only does physical activity help us burn calories, but it also increases muscle mass which helps us burn even more calories throughout the day. At least 30 minutes daily is what we need for better health.

While exercise is essential, we need to remember that allowing our bodies to rest and recover is just as important. In fact, studies have shown that people who sleep an average 7.5 hours nightly are less likely to be overweight! Getting adequate sleep helps our metabolism run at maximum capacity. So if you are sleep-deprived, not only will you feel sluggish and stressed (which often leads to overeating and poor food choices), but you will also burn fewer calories throughout the day. This creates a vicious cycle of unintended weight gain for many of us. So if you are only getting an average of 5 hours of sleep each night, make a goal to increase that to 7 hours. Doing this in addition to your exercise and better eating habits, you’ll watch pounds drop as your metabolism soars!

Principle #3 – More whole grains, more colorful vegetables

I can’t emphasize the importance of plant-based foods enough! Besides providing fiber that helps us feel fuller longer, most non-starchy vegetables are low calorie yet packed with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that support our metabolism and overall health. And whole grains such as whole wheat, brown rice, quinoa and oats are also packed full of heart-healthy soluble fiber that helps us feel fuller longer, which is a great benefit when you are trying to slim down!

To get a jump start on your fiber for the day, make sure to have at least one serving of whole grains at breakfast. This is easy! Whole grain cereals such as Kellogg’s All Bran, Kellogg’s Mini Wheats and Kashi Go Lean Crunch are both tasty and convenient. Combine 1 cup whole grain cereal with 1 cup skim milk and a serving of fruit for a breakfast that will keep you revved up all morning.

And if you are having a hard time picking out other foods, such as breads and crackers, that are considered whole grains, be sure to look for our “Whole Grain” thrive! Nutritional Tags on items that qualify in store.

And to make sure you are getting more vegetables throughout the day, aim to make half of your plate colorful, leafy veggies at both lunch and dinner. Also choose prepackaged and frozen meals that contain more veggies, such as Healthy Choice Steamers, which make a great lunch for work or a quick meal at home on those crazy days when you are too busy to cook.

Principle #4 – Make better beverage choices

Don’t let unnecessary calories sneak in your body through sweetened beverages such as tea, sodas, and juices. One large glass of tea or juice can easily contain over 300 calories! To put this in perspective, the average adult would need to walk 3 miles at a brisk pace to burn that same 300 calories. So by replacing sugary drinks with calorie-free water, and using low calorie sports drinks like Powerade Zero in place of regular sports drinks, you can save hundreds of calories daily! It’s a simple switch you can make that will help you drop pounds without sacrificing flavor.

Just making these few minor changes in your daily habits and food choices can have a great impact on your weight loss progress this summer. So go ahead, start now! You’ll be feeling and looking great not only during summer, but throughout the entire year too. You can do it!

It’s hard to believe that swimsuit season is upon us yet again!  

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Printed on July 22, 2014 at 11:01 am