As the weather begins to slowly thaw after a seemingly never-ending winter, we are enticed by the thought of longer evenings and lounging in the sun but also daunted by the prospect of showing some skin.
Swimsuits, shorts, and skimpy shirts all provide their own individual threat as society dictates that jeans and a jumper are no longer acceptable when the sun starts shining. However, there may be some of us who have been a little more reluctant to shed the few extra pounds from Christmas that we insisted on keeping “just in case” the weather didn’t improve. If that’s you, where do you start when considering getting into shape for summer?
There’s no time like the present
Guardian blogger Catherine Phipps believes that dieting in January in line with New Year’s resolutions is doomed to fail. A combination of cold weather, comfort food and Christmas leftovers is a recipe for disaster when slimming early in the year – no one wants to snack on a salad when it’s below freezing and there’s a stew on the stove.
Therefore starting now may be the best opportunity to consider slimming down to squeeze into your summer attire, but it can be difficult to know where to start.
Dieting may seem like a rather recent revelation, but looking back through the history books we have been taking tips on our eating habits as early as Luigi Cornaro’s The Art of Living Long, which was originally written in 1558.
Since then the fad diet has come on in leaps and bounds, with some more successful than others. For example, the cabbage soup diet gained huge popularity in the 1950s and is still used today despite the diet plan seeming nothing more than a recipe for wind, rather than weight loss. However eating plans such as the Atkins diet and the recent 5:2 diet, where you are encouraged to eat normally for 5 days of the week and fast for 2, have proved to be more successful with those hoping to slim down.
However as fad diets often promise great results in a short space of time, it can often be too good to be true. A survey by the British Dietetic Association found that a third of people ended up heavier than their original weight after their diet. The Boots Web MD states that this could be because making a sudden change in your eating pattern can result in quick weight loss followed by rebound weight gain as soon as you start eating normally again. Therefore instilling a healthy eating and exercise regime for the long term is the first step towards steadily losing weight.
Preparing a long term plan
As healthy eating and regular exercise are the best steps to take towards slimming down but perhaps not the quickest, there are supplements available to help speed the process along. For example, adding creatine or whey protein to your workout routine can exaggerate the effects of exercise.
Creatine is an amino acid that occurs naturally in the body, but supplements can be used to increase your energy during short bursts of high-intensity exercise, which therefore allows you to train for longer to build more muscle or tone. Protein is what the body uses to repair and build muscle during and after exertion, and using a whey protein supplement increases your body’s ability to do this.
A healthy diet is considered one that consists of a variety of fruit and vegetables, starchy wholegrain foods, and small amounts of dairy and meat products. Foods that are high in fat and sugar should be limited, and vegetarians should investigate alternatives to ensure that they are receiving the proper levels of nutrients that traditionally come from meat. Drinking plenty of water is also essential to maintain a healthy diet and aid weight loss.