What will you gain when you lose?

Get beach body ready

Learn how with our guide to looking and feeling great this summer


A woman laughing on the beach (© Getty Images)

Summer is fast approaching, and for many of us that means a well-earned holiday. However, what should be an opportunity for rest and relaxation can all too often turn into a case of stress and anxiety as we all make a desperate last-minute attempt to get the beach body of our dreams.

There's no need to panic though. While it's true that the best way to feel healthy and confident is a long-term healthy eating and exercise regime, it is entirely possible to make changes in the short-term that will see substantial results. With this in mind we caught up with James Holding, personal trainer and founder of Brother Gym, to get his expert exercise and nutrition tips on how to get beach body beautiful in time for summer 2012.

Nutrition

A healthy balanced diet is vital to long-term health and well-being, but there are also adjustments you can make in the short-term to see more immediate results. Most importantly, Holding reminded us that it's vital to take a balanced approach to your diet, and not become obsessed with strict regimes or unachievable goals: "If you have a bad day, don't feel too guilty. This is a long term lifestyle change that can't be ruined in one day as long as you pick yourself up and keep going."

Here are Holding's top tips on easy nutrition changes you can make in the run-up to your holiday.

1. Increase your protein intake: Protein leaves you feeling fuller for longer and boosts your metabolism. Every meal should be based around vegetables and lean proteins such as oily fish, seafood and chicken.

2. Reduce your salt content: Salt causes bloating, water retention and cellulite, so cutting out extra salt - by cutting out salty foods such as crisps, pastries and ready meals - can make a huge difference to helping you feel your confident best on the beach.

3. Keep hydrated: Feeling hungry can actually be a sign of dehydration. If you are having hunger pangs soon after your last meal, try drinking half a litre of water before reaching for a snack.

Exercise

Exercise is always an important component in leading a healthy lifestyle, and no matter what your fitness level, it's never too late to start keeping fit. We all have specific 'trouble spots' we think are in need of special attention, but Holding tells us that the only way to see real results is by concentrating on your whole body. "Forget about the notion of "spot-reduction" - it's a myth. No matter what small part of your body you want to change, taking a whole body approach will always work best."

Here are Holding's top exercise tips for getting in shape in a snap.

1. Interval training: Performing short, intense bouts of cardio will help lift your metabolism. 20-30 minutes of interval training (e.g. running hard for two minutes, followed by walking for two minutes, for a total of 20 - 30 minutes) three times a week is the ideal.

2. Perform large compound exercises: Exercises such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, bench presses and any Olympic lifts all engage multiple big muscle groups, so will burn maximum calories.

3. Add-on arms: Perform arm exercises along with larger compound movements (e.g. bicep curls with squats), as this will burn more calories than simply arm exercises alone.

These exercise tips are aimed at maximising your workouts, so you burn the highest number of calories possible in the shortest amount of time. The amount of exercise you will need to do to see improvements in time for the summer will ultimately depend on your current weight and fitness levels, however. Every person is different, which makes setting exact weight loss guidelines impossible, but there are some general guidelines which can help you locate the changes you'll need to make:

Low to moderate fitness: According to Department of Health guidelines we should all be aiming to do 150 minutes of moderate- intensity aerobic activity as week, or alternatively 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic activity (or a combination of the two). So if you're currently doing little to no exercise, reaching this target, combined with an improved diet will result in noticeable improvements.

Moderate to high fitness: If you're already doing this minimum level of exercise, then you will of course need to work harder to see physical changes. According to the British Nutrition Foundation, you'll need to increase your physical activity levels to 45-60 minutes of moderate intensity activity every day to affect weight loss.

Turning it into a habit

Deciding to get fit for summer can be a positive step to helping you feel your confident best, especially if it leads to a healthier lifestyle in the future. "It's never a bad time to start creating a healthy lifestyle," says Holding. "Getting that beach body is a great motivation, and the perfect opportunity to turn your new healthy regime into a habit."

Starting a new regime may be tough, but maintaining it can be even harder. Here are some tips that could help you stay motivated in the long-term.

1. Set an ultimate goal: Short term goals, such as getting a beach body, are all well and good, but setting an ultimate goal will help to keep you focused and motivated in the long term.

2. Get a weight-loss buddy: It's far easier to stay motivated if you're working as part of a team, so finding a weight-loss buddy - a friend with similar goals who will help you stay focused and on-track - can make all the difference between failure and success.

3. Enjoy it: You are more likely to stick to your new healthy regime if you enjoy it. Try different types of exercise until you find one you really like - whether that's swimming, netball or working out in the gym. And get creative in the kitchen - healthy eating doesn't mean dull tasteless food.

If you're interested in making a long-term change for the better, then a free My Special K plan - featuring your own personalised healthy eating plan and fitness advice tailored to you - is a great tool to help you achieve that goal. Sign up today and get started on your way to a beach body and lifelong body confidence.

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