Summer’s back, and while many of us dislike the sweltering heat, for some reason we don’t mind it at all when we’re at the beach. And speaking of the beach, it’s that time of the year when people go on diets and exercise more intensely, all for the “beach/bikini body” that shows off a toned figure. While you can subject yourself to that ideal (your body is your body, after all), here are some diet and exercise tips we hope you don’t heed, and why.
1. Exercise early in the morning.
You may have read it online or had your friends tell you that you should start your day with exercise. The benefits seem to be endless: a great mood, a day that feels productive, better sleep, weight loss, and so much more. But not all exercise tips are for everybody. And working out first thing in the morning—or actually forcing yourself to get up before sunrise and run—can actually produce the effect you don’t want, especially if you sleep late. Lack of sleep will slow your metabolism down. It’ll make you feel more stressed out, which can lead your body to store fat.
If you’re not getting enough shut-eye, exercise at any time of the day that’s comfortable for you. It could be at night, in the late afternoon, or in the evening, when it’s much cooler and you can perform better.
2. Go to the gym to be fit.
You don’t need to go to the gym to be fit, and you don’t have to go there to target your “problem areas.” Although it might help you to get a trainer for the latter, you can be strong and in shape, through more affordable options since gym memberships are expensive. For one, you can do body-weight training at home. Push-ups, squats, step-ups—all these exercises and more will build your strength and can even tone your muscles if you do them regularly with the right form. There are a number of videos on YouTube you can check out that’ll guide you in toning your muscles, so you don’t have to worry.
You can also do sports if working out solo bores you. Sports are exhilarating, and these can be enjoyed with your friends. Consider two-on-two badminton matches, or games of Frisbee in UP or in a park; or consider hiking (which counts as traveling too)!
3. Exercise every single day.
Whether you’re exercising for overall health, toning your muscles, or building strength, it’s important to have a rest day. Your muscles need to rest to repair themselves from the tears brought about by your workout. This recovery period will make your muscles stronger afterwards.
Moreover, training daily can cause your body to adapt to your workout routine to the point that it’s not effective anymore physiologically. (The body is good in adapting!) What you can do is to vary your workout. You can make it more intense, exercise longer, or do other moves that target the same or similar muscle groups.
4. Do crunches and you’ll get abs.
Getting and maintaining abs require more than just sets of crunches. Crunches don’t even target your whole core, so they’re not all that effective. Instead, do some sit-ups, leg raises, and mountain climbers, among other moves. You’ll also need to do cardio (like running) and strength training (like planks to kettlebell swings) to lose the belly fat. Why not just go on a diet? Well, if you lose weight without exercising, you’ll also lose some muscle along with the fat, which will mean you won’t get much definition to your torso.
And regarding food intake, you’ll need to eat lean proteins and vegetables, some fruits, and whole grains. Don’t go crazy on your desserts, since they’re tough to burn and you need to be trim.
5. You need to count calories to lose weight.
Counting calories can be a way to lose weight, since that can help control the amount of food you’re eating and what exactly you’re eating. But that’s not necessary for everybody who wants to get rid of a few pounds. Another way is to control your portion sizes by noting what you put on your plate. For instance, you can fill 50 percent of it with vegetables (they’re low in calories yet filling), 25 percent with protein, and the other 25 with whole grains.
Also, counting calories feels very restrictive. It might make you say no to food when you’re hungry, which isn’t ideal. For starters, that’ll make you feel sluggish and it’ll dull your concentration. If you let that hunger grow, you’ll risk bingeing and making unhealthy choices. If you sustain this hunger (or even the low consumption of calories), you’ll mess with your metabolism and ability to exercise.
And let’s not forget that exercise helps in weight loss. It helps your body use more energy (aka, burn calories). By watching your portion sizes, which inevitably reduces the calories you eat, the overall “calorie shortage” results in weight loss.
6. Don’t eat snacks.
As previously implied on #5, eat when you’re hungry. Snacking up can increase your resting metabolic rate (the number of calories you burn when you’re just sitting down, thinking, etc.). You can help yourself to a cookie or a slice of pizza once a month, even when you’re on your way to your desired body. But it’s much better for your goal if you snack on nuts, fruits, homemade granola bars, some salad with lean meat.
7. Go on a low-carb diet, or ditch the carbs.
People have lost weight by going on a low-carb diet. But the problems of doing that are: (1) it’s difficult to sustain, (2) it’s not even advisable to sustain since you’ll miss out on important nutrients, and (3) it usually makes people gain weight faster when they’re done with dieting.
So if you want to lose weight and sustain your new weight, you need the complex carbs like whole grains. Unlike other carbs like pasta and rice, they have fiber to keep you feeling full, so you won’t eat more. Fiber also improves your digestion and helps you poop, so you won’t feel bloated.
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