O ne of the most dreaded times of the year is bikini season. For some of us we wish we had lost the extra pounds we put on earlier in the year. Starting my own company in April has kept me cooped up indoors most days. There have been weeks when I didn’t leave the office unless I was doing research for an article. Lucky for me, motivation, aka my friend Julie, came knocking on my door. While there may not be a trick to losing weight the healthy way, or secret that you haven’t heard of, I have found something that has stuck for me.
Since I gave up working out almost a year ago Julie and I created a fitness schedule. To challenge ourselves we set realistic daily goals we had to meet. She encouraged me to download the My Fitness Pal app to track everything I ate. Though it seems simple to keep a track of your daily food and calories on your own, tracking your food intake with My Fitness Pal actually surprised me. Not only was I consuming more calories than I realized, I was lacking a proper balance of nutrients. I’m a very healthy eater, but I wasn’t keeping track of how many grams of sugar, protein, carbs, etc., I was eating. Using My Fitness Pal not only educated me on portion control, but it also taught me the proper control of fat, carbs, proteins and calories. My Fitness Pal is a valuable tool to maintain your diet.
Once I got into a routine of eating proper portions and counting calories I focused on my food intake. I studied the grams per food group I consumed to maintain losing weight while working toward eating healthier. The next step was working out. I have a gym membership and have belonged to the same gym for 15 years. The gym isn’t the problem though, it’s dragging myself there. Even with the help of a friend, after a long day the drive alone can feel like work. Since I knew this before we committed to our routine I suggested starting with a 1 mile hike. From there we increased our 1 mile hike to 3 mile hikes and so on. Within 10 days of maintaining cardio 4 times weekly we were up to hiking 5 miles a day comfortably. The goal is to maintain 30 minutes of cardio a day.
With an abundance of activities that don’t involve going to a gym, there’s no reason to let a gym hold you back. Walk around your neighborhood, jog/walk through a local park, take a bike ride, rollerblade with your family, join a work softball or soccer league, take a dance class, practice extra curricular activities with your children, etc. The options are endless. The key is to find one thing that doesn’t feel like work and try to incorporate that into your daily routine. Start slow. First commit to 1 day a week. Then commit to two days a week. Add as many days as you feel comfortable with. For maximum results I suggest a minimum of 3 days weekly to shed the weight.
I noticed a change in my energy level and happiness after working out 4 days a week. Maybe it was all the vitamin D that I was receiving from being outdoors, or a combination of a healthier diet and seeing the results. All I know is I became addicted. Within 10 days of my dedicated regime I wanted to workout and eat healthier every minute of the day. Since I was now committed to staying healthy and no longer concerned with shedding weight I decided to gain muscle mass and tone up. I bought a Bosu ball which changed my life. (Side note: I post daily videos on Snapchat sharing new at home excerises anyone can try using your body weight and things you have at home @monikafreeman). Using your own body weight to balance, strengthen, tone and work your core will get you in bikini shape quickly!
I bought a stability ball to add more challenging exercises to my workouts. The stability ball combined with the Bosu are a lot of fun and very rewarding. They are especially great for working out at home. Add a pair of free weights (I use 10-15 lbs) and thera-bands and who needs the gym? I highly suggest downloading Map My Fitness. This app will keep a daily track of your exercises while syncing to your food log via My Fitness Pal. Motivation can be as simple as tracking how far you’ve gone to push yourself to keep going, or go further. Map My Fitness is great a motivator.
Working out doesn’t have to be a huge burden or time consuming commitment. Motivation and sticking to a routine is the hardest part. Start small and build your way up. Today I challenge you to take a walk solo or with your spouse, partner, friend, kids, animals, etc., around the neighborhood for 30 minutes. Challenge yourself to do it again tomorrow. While challenging yourself to be active daily add small changes to your diet to see results. Create a schedule and keep it going. The way you feel, look and live should be the most important thing in your life. After all what’s 30 minutes out of your day worth if you gain more confidence and a longer lifespan!