Holiday season is here. The time of year when every magazine you open is featuring their version of the latest ‘2-week bikini blitz’.
You know the kind of thing – an ‘easy to follow’ diet of goji berries and pickled walnuts (OK, I exaggerate, but not much), just 15 minutes of daily at-home exercises, and you can have a body like Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s in a fortnight.
If these instant makeovers sound a bit too good to be true, guess what? They are.
First off, any meaningful change in your body doesn’t happen overnight (or even over-fortnight). It can take anything from 4-6 months, so to achieve the promised transformation, you should have started in February/March.
Secondly, following the latest 15 to 30 minute fad workout plan won’t provide your body with the intensity and challenge it needs to change, assuming it’s even the right programme for your individual level of fitness and capabilities.
And thirdly, fad diets typically limit consumption of a certain macronutrient (protein, carbs, or fat) or food group, and your body needs all those elements properly balanced to function most effectively. While you may experience initial weight loss with these diets, they typically also cause a loss of lean muscle, which will lower your Resting Metabolic Rate, making it easier to put the fat back on in the long run.
The Real Deal
So if the 2-week blitz is more pipe-dream than miracle, what do you need to do for that toned, beach-ready body?
At TenPilates, we firmly believe that the right exercise and diet plan should be manageable, sustainable, healthy and (mostly) fun. Something you’re able and happy to do all year round. That way, not only will you be in bikini-shape all year but also you’ll be taking good long term care of your overall health and well-being.
Add a Little Resistance
Aim to exercise 3-4 times a week with free weights, with a day’s rest in-between each weights session.
Spend 30-40 min on upper and lower body resistance exercises that utilise all the body’s major muscle groups, doing 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps with a weight you can just manage for each set. (Think lunges, squats, rows, presses, as well as rotational exercises like pikes.) Performing these big multi-joint exercises will really help you burn off the calories and rev up your metabolic rate.
Alternatively if the gym isn’t your thing, an Intermediate Dynamic Pilates Reformer class provides a challenging whole body workout that delivers along similar principles (Admittedly, I’m biased – but trust me, it works.)
Bolt like Usain
Combine your resistance workouts with aerobic interval training to help boost your fat burning potential. Think 20 secs of high intensity effort: an all out sprint on a bike, front crawl in the pool, running up hill outdoors, followed by 10 secs of slower-paced recovery and then flat-out for another 20 secs.
Start with 8 sprints with 10 secs recovery in between each. That’s effectively a 4 min block with an additional 1 min recovery phase. As you become fitter and better conditioned, gradually build up the number of sprints/blocks you do and cut back on the 1 min recovery intervals. Aim to reach 20 min per interval session.
The beauty about intervals is that they are a challenging and refreshing alternative to plodding at a steady pace on the treadmill, and they can be performed anywhere, with very little (if any) equipment.
You Are What You Eat
Yep, it’s a familiar mantra but a balanced and healthy diet can make or break your physique goals.
Aim for a diet rich in fresh veg (think the fibrous green type like spinach, broccoli, cabbage), lean meats (chicken, turkey, fish), healthy fats (coconut oil for frying, olive oil for salad dressing, oily fish, mixed unsalted nuts, e.g.), and complex carbohydrates (i.e. brown rice, sweet potatoes). Drinking plenty of water goes without saying. I hope.
Ideally, try to eat a balanced nutritional meal every 2-3 hours to ensure an optimal flow of nutrients into your body, prevent cravings, keep you energised and to ensure your metabolism stays revved up, burning calories throughout the entire day.
It’s not easy, and it’s not instant. But it is that simple. And – if you put in some effort, and you’re willing to be consistent and a bit patient – it works. Trust me.