Every year, around mid-spring, blogs and magazines being panicking about your summer look. Have you lost enough weight yet? Have you hit your fitness goals? It’s enough to make you panic as a reader!
Luckily, there is a much smarter approach. Anyone who has ever tried to crash diet in an attempt to completely transform their looks in a short space of time can probably tell you this: body transformation takes a bit longer than you think.
Here’s why the end of the summer may be the perfect time to begin planning your diet and fitness regime for the beginning of next summer.
Why Start Now?
The real key to weight loss and strength training is not the speed with which you can do it, but whether or not you can maintain it. Regardless of how successful a crash diet or a crazy training circuit might be initially, neither one has taught you how to form good health habits. They have merely applied a quick fix, and quick fixes generally depart as quickly as they came.
It can take months for a new habit to take hold, and trying to form too many new habits at once can lead to burnout. So, giving yourself plenty of “ramp up time” means you are setting yourself up for success rather than failure.
Try this approach: make a list of five or six habits you would like to form before next summer – not necessarily goals – just habits. These may include things like “get more sleep,” “eat more vegetables,” “get three workouts in per week,” or “pack healthy lunches.”
Now, you’re not going to make all of these huge changes in your life at once. Instead, you are going to prioritize your list in terms of what you deem to be the most important. Try incorporating one habit into your routine every three weeks. By the time you add on your second habit, your first one should have become just that: a habit.
This is a much easier approach than trying to do it all in the three-week run-up to a beach getaway.
Realistic Weight Loss
At the very beginning of a diet, you may lose five, possibly even 10 pounds in the initial weeks. This is usually largely due to a loss of water as your body adjusts to a healthier eating style.
In other words: you will not continue to lose weight at that rate. Instead, you’re going to need time.
The average person on a successful weight loss diet will lose somewhere between half a pound and one and a half pounds per week. This is considered steady and healthy weight loss that can be sustained. If you are consistently losing two pounds or more per week, you may be on a diet that is too restrictive, and not sustainable. Once you stop following that diet, your weight will likely all come back.
Does losing half a pound a week sound like an excruciatingly slow pace? Probably, but that is because the health industry has built an empire on selling the idea that weight loss can happen faster than that.
However, think of it this way: what if somebody told you that by making just a few simple changes to your diet, you could be 25 pounds lighter by this time next year? Sounds like a pretty good deal, right?
Realistic Strength Training Gains
The same goes for strength training. If you were hoping that six-pack abs would materialize in the span of one month, you’re going to be disappointed. You need time, a dedicated workout approach, and a healthy eating plan if you want to achieve noticeable muscle definition.
Muscle definition can come about in many ways, but the toned look that most people are searching for is the result of weight lifting (or bodyweight exercises) and fat loss. These things take time. In fact, a healthy weight lifting schedule will usually include two entire days every week dedicated to rest. If you only have 28 days to reach your goal, devoting eight of those days to not exercising seems counterproductive, doesn’t it?
The good news about strength training is that you will probably see dramatic gains in a relatively short space of time. You may go from struggling to curl 10-pound dumbbells to curling 25-pound dumbbells in just a few months. This is terrific progress, but you do still need time to allow that to happen.
Here is the bottom line: making a complete change in the way you approach nutrition and fitness requires dedication, a bit of trial and error, and certainly more than six weeks. Begin your transformation now, so by the time beach season rolls around, you don’t have to panic. Go ahead and take an entire year to focus on you. You deserve it.