There's nothing like a wedding, school reunion, beach holiday or conference to get you more motivated to be more fit. Don't opt for extreme diets or regimens that can make you feel depleted, or even backfire, leaving you in worse shape. Follow these tips and you'll feel stronger and more confident – plus you'll look great in all those group selfies and have people saying, "What have you done? You look brilliant!"
Use these 10 simple steps to maximize your results:
1. Add extra cardio
Working out for 30 minutes on the treadmill or elliptical five days a week will shave off that extra jiggle. Maintain your muscles with your regular strength training regimen, but add moderate-intensity cardio to burn fat and stimulate your metabolism.
Add your 30-minute cardio workout to your schedule wherever it fits most conveniently – whether that's first thing in the morning, during your lunch break or in the evening – so your new routine will be easier to maintain.
2. Do stomach vacuums every day (suck in your tummy)
Stomach vacuums work the inner abdominals, the transverse abdominus and lumbar multifidus that function as a natural girdle to support posture and breathing. These amazing exercises can be done anywhere, anytime and, after just a few weeks of diligent practice, will lead to better posture and a tighter-looking middle section. If you've already developed the overlying muscle core, you'll also see greater definition.
Inhale and exhale. Then suck in your stomach, drawing your navel toward your spine. Hold for 20 seconds and release. Repeat.
3. Ditch the empty carbohydrates
Say goodbye to white bread, potatoes, rice and pasta, substituting whole grains like quinoa and more nutrient-rich carbohydrates like sweet potatoes. Even the healthiest grains can cause bloating. Decrease the amount of carbs in your meals in favor of more veggies, protein and healthy fats.
A few days before your special event, reduce the amount of carbs and sodium in your diet to cut down on bloating and puffiness.
4. Hydrate like crazy
Say no to sugary drinks and alcoholic beverages and instead reach for water, water, water. It will reduce puffiness, make it easier to control your calorie intake and help you feel energized.
Add sliced cucumbers, limes, oranges, and mint or cilantro to your water pitcher to add a refreshing zing. The produce will also inject an extra dose of minerals and vitamins that your skin, muscle and tissues will love.
5. Cut back on refined sugar
Sugar is "aggressively unbalancing," disrupting the body's ability to process fuel and placing extra strain on the pancreas. It can contribute to skin problems, puffiness and cellulite, as well as low energy and mood swings.
Keep berries and whole-milk yogurt on hand to address cravings, or allow yourself a small antioxidant-rich square of dark chocolate.
6. Eat healthy fats
A spoonful of nut butter, an avocado or coconut oil are all great ways to add the healthy fats essential for building lean muscle. They are also wonderful go-to snacks you can grab to address cravings.
Eat plenty of fatty fish or take a supplement to support your body as it builds and maintains muscle.
7. Take detoxifying baths or use the sauna at the gym
Visit the steam room or take mineral baths frequently. Not only do they make your skin look great, but the warm temperature relaxes muscles, aids recovery time, and offers numerous heart-health benefits.
Massaging your arms and legs during your sauna session can help aid circulation and muscle recuperation.
8. Stand up straight
Posture is something you can focus on every day with dramatic results in a short time. Become aware of your posture and correct it at every opportunity. Since you'll be doing stomach vacuums to build inner core strength, you can also work on straightening your shoulders and lifting your chest. Once you develop a habit of maintaining good posture, you won't even have to think about it anymore.
Set your upper body into the correct alignment and squeeze your back muscles together, training your chest to "stay proud." Practice this daily.
9. Add a protein shake to your strength training day
Extra protein is better than calorie restriction alone when it comes to building a stronger, leaner physique. There are all kinds of formulations out there for the optimum protein intake, but every individual's requirements vary. Just aim for boosting your protein intake on strength training days.
Consume protein after your workout to make the most of it. Take in some carbohydrates like bananas or oats as well.
10. Go to bed early (or wake up a little later)
Muscle is built while you sleep, so getting extra rest is a good plan, especially since you'll be working out more.
If you follow our tips and take time during the day to relax and breath deeply, you'll be in great shape when that special event rolls around.
Article Courtesy of Precor.com
What kinds of things do you add to your fitness routine to help shave off that last few pounds for a special occasion?