We’re all looking for it . . . that summer “beach bod”. In our area of the country, summer season is a short one and we want to take advantage of every minute of it. From spending more time outside at the kids’ (or spouse’s) events to weekends at the lakes to outside running and swimming, we want to pack everything in at once. A lot of the time that involves swimsuits or active apparel that we typically don’t get to wear, and it seems like every year we say to ourselves (or at least I say to myself), this is the year I get into “summer shape”. While it’s a great goal, I think we often set ourselves up to fail at achieving this goal. I’ll talk a little bit about my challenges with this, how I’ve succeeded in the past, and ways to take this goal on . . . for NEXT summer.
As a typical Midwesterner, I love my foods. I might even love them more than the average Midwesterner. I enjoy all the FUN summer foods and the foods that lead up to summer. While these all taste great, many of them aren’t that great for you. I’m never one to turn down a fresh piece of pizza, a cold beer, or even a juicy bratwurst on a brioche brat bun (yeah, I’m THAT fancy), and don’t get me started on the amazing breweries in town. This is probably one of the biggest challenges we face. Let’s face it, a salad rarely gets a reputation as “mouth-watering”. Just like prepping the lake cabin for the summer, a lot of the time we work on prepping our taste buds for the summer. That first warm weekend in April, regardless of the amount of snow on the ground, we check out which patios are open and call our friends to get that first patio drink in for the year. This is just one of the ways we can fail to meet that summer fit goal.
While there are a lot of ways that we can fail to get to that place we want to be for the summer, there are also a lot of ways we can succeed. For me personally, I’ve had the most success at “being fit” when I have a plan, and I’m not just talking about a plan of what weekends I’ll be hitting up Zorbaz during the summer. My success revolved around planning my gym schedule, planning my meals, and planning my sleep. Those three things are VITAL to success every day and even more vital to reach a health and fitness goal.
The first, and arguably the easiest, is a sleep schedule. Yes, the days are longer. Yes, we have a lot going on. However, I can almost guarantee that we can come up with just as many reasons outside of the summer season for not getting enough sleep. On average, we should be getting at least 7 hours of sleep each night. A lot of the time, for me, that involved going to bed at 9:00 PM. I set my schedule for each week and tried to stay consistent to it. While it wasn’t always perfect, I definitely noticed a difference. Workouts were easier, weight came off easier, and I FELT better. Getting on a consistent sleep schedule not only made me feel better, but it also made it easier to focus on the other pillars of health.
Next comes the hard part, nutrition. Like I mentioned earlier, nutrition in the Midwest is hard ANYTIME, but especially during the summer. Salads have a reputation of not being “sexy” food, but honestly, I could have a good salad every day and be completely content. Incorporating a good amount of healthy fruits and vegetables not only help you hit your fitness goals, but they are also great for your body. From helping your digestion/”gut biome”, to being a good way to suppress your appetite, fruits and vegetables can be a great summer food option. The second part of nutrition that I focused on, and one that I preach to everyone, is an adequate amount of protein. The majority of us don’t get enough protein in the day, and it can greatly affect not only our body, but also our mental health and physical abilities, especially if we are doing high intensity, constantly varied movements (aka CrossFit). When I was focusing on my protein intake, I saw drastic changes to my lean body mass and body composition. I looked better, I felt better, and I exercised better. Eliminating those evening margaritas and replacing them with a glass of water and a salad with a chicken breast on top will go a long way in you reaching your fitness goals, and will help you with that third pillar, exercise.
Exercise is often the answer everyone wants to hear for improving their body. While exercise IS very important, I would say it was the least important of those three pillars. By improving my nutrition and sleep, my exercise automatically improved. The exercise was a great reminder to stay active and stay fit. I would make sure I worked out in some form or another 5 days out of the week. Some of those days were a high intensity CrossFit workout, others were a lower intensity day walking the dog to the local dog park, or going for a hike. The best thing about summer is the variety of exercise that we can do (both in the gym and outside of the gym). I would make sure I reserved my classes at the beginning of the week, I would plan my workouts like I planned my nutrition, at least a week in advance, and most importantly, I would stick to it. Did that mean missing out on some of the “fun” things my friends were doing? Absolutely. It also meant that I was that much closer to my fitness goal.
While the dream of a “summer beach bod” for this summer SOUNDS great, unless you are within a few pounds or percentage points of your goal right now, we should be planning to crush that goal for next summer. By starting now, you are setting yourself up for success for next year. It won’t be easy, we’ll all have setbacks, but we can get there. Below is just the outline of what I did, what I would suggest to anyone looking to “get fit”:
- Make your goal a SMART goal. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Our goal shouldn’t be “to get fit by next summer” but rather something like “to get to 18% body fat by April 15th of 2024”. Obviously everyone’s goal will be a bit different, but if we focus on a specific goal we can break it down into smaller goals that we can hit on a regular basis
- Plan everything. Meal prep for the week, measure your food, plan your workouts, plan your “cheat meals”. If you are consistent and well planned, we fail less often and everything is easier. If we constantly eat healthy 80% of the time, we can afford to treat ourselves the other 20% of the time.
- Work with someone. While I would prefer that you work with us in either the Nutrition program or the Mindset program, I would rather see you working with someone than trying to do it by yourself. Having someone that you are accountable to and that there is a “punishment” for failure, goes a long ways. If you are paying $150 every month to help you with your goal, you’ll be much more likely to stick with it than to sway from the plan
- Set small yet achievable goals. While the end goal might be fitting into a specific swimsuit, make sure you have small goals to set yourself up to succeed over and over again. If you want to drop 5 inches around the waist, make your first goal to lose half an inch. When you get there, CELEBRATE! Celebrate the wins along the way. It’s worth it.
- Finally, be okay with failing. Be it one of the small goals or coming up short of your end goal, remember at the end of the day you accomplished something. If you work with a professional we can adjust your goals along the way to make sure we hit those small wins.
While this was focused on planning for summer, the dates are interchangeable. We can start this journey at any point and time and get you to your goal. If you are interested in working with someone on our team to reach your goals, reach out. We can sit down and discuss how to get you there and make sure you are setup for success!