You’ve booked your holiday and are looking forward to some well-earned fun in the sun, but how are you feeling about wearing that bikini? Nervous? Self-conscious? Don’t be. The fact is, if you’re wearing a bikini on your body, then you have a bikini body! But that doesn’t mean you can’t still take some positive steps to promote healthy weight loss and ensure you feel at your healthiest and happiest, in body and mind, this summer. Read on for the simple fitness, diet and mindset tweaks that will get you there.
1. Be kind to your body
‘While it’s great to have goals and a desire to be a better version of yourself, it’s also essential that you are kind to yourself along the way, so the journey is much more enjoyable,’ says Sarah Campus, personal trainer, nutrition coach and founder of LDN MUMS FITNESS. ‘Following restrictive diets, doing endless exercise and putting yourself under pressure to achieve a “dream physique” is far from healthy. Instead, try looking at the whole picture by taking control of your mindset and developing a positive mental attitude towards your body.’ To focus less on how your body looks, and become more grateful and accepting for what your body can do, Sarah recommends incorporating the following three exercises into your day:
- Practise daily gratitude: ‘Think of three things that you’re grateful for and then set yourself three positive intentions. Write them down to stay accountable.’
- Move with purpose: ‘You don’t need to spend hours working out – just spend six to 25 minutes a day doing something you enjoy, whether that’s strength training, dancing, walking or stretching. Appreciate how your body moves.’
- Be self-accepting: ‘Don’t put pressure on yourself. Recognise the small wins and celebrate them. Remember, you’re powerful, your body is beautiful and numbers don’t define you.’
2. Stop weighing yourself
Still have a pair of scales? Now is the time to chuck them away. ‘So many women step on the scales when they’re feeling great from eating well and exercising regularly, only to feel disappointed when they’re not as light as they thought they would be,’ says PT Maeve Madden (maevemadden.co). Instead, Madden suggests you perform some fitness tests once a powerful, your body is beautiful regularly, such as seeing how long you can hold a plank or a wall squat for, or how many press-ups or lunges you can do in 60 seconds. And make it your goal to improve on your results one month from now. ‘Feeling stronger, fitter and more energised is so much more important than hitting a certain number on the scales,’ Madden concludes.
3. Try weightlifting for healthy weight loss
It’s true that people tend to expend more calories while doing cardio like running compared to strength training, but doing anaerobic workouts such as weightlifting keeps your excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), or post-workout calorie-burn, going from hours to days. Why? Because your body needs more oxygen afterwards to recover and repair muscles. ‘Doing moves like squats and lunges work the biggest muscles in your body, so you get the biggest calorie burn during and after exercise,’ says weightlifter and elite PT, Jayne Lo (jaynelo.com). ‘And to really up the ante, try upgrading to full-body compound moves like deadlifts or a clean and press.’
4. Eat to boost your energy levels
‘If you want to feel more energised for your workouts, you’ll need to eat more fibre-dense foods such as wholegrains, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds,’ says Emma Scott, nutritionist, lifestyle coach and founder of Nutrilife UK (nutrilife.uk.com). ‘Dietary fibre feeds gut bacteria, which creates a healthy environment to support gut health, and produces a good diversity of digestive enzymes. This helps facilitate the uptake of nutrients to keep us fit and strong,’ she says. ‘Furthermore, fibre actively slows down the rate of digestion to balance blood sugars and stabilise energy, whilst also helping us slim down naturally through its satiety effects’.
Eating an array of nutrient-dense colourful veg and fruit every day will ensure you have good levels of vitamins and minerals, plus essential antioxidants to combat free-radical damage from exercise-induced oxidative stress. ‘Try watermelon, tomatoes and pink grapefruit, which are low in calories, very hydrating and full of the powerful antioxidant lycopene, to help replenish muscle glycogen stores fast,’ she adds.
5. Try short, high intensity workouts for healthy weight loss
Research shows that performing bite-sized bursts of high-intensity fitness throughout your day can be just as effective as doing a 45-minute workout. So, why not try swapping out that long evening run for a few different activities throughout the day?
6. Exercise with friends to tone up and have fun
It’s a proven fact that people who exercise in a group tend to work longer and harder than those who train solo. And when you work out with friends, says Chatty Dobson, owner of Flex Chelsea (flexchelsea.com), you’re more likely to have fun and turn up in the first place! ‘In my opinion, there’s nothing better than a Saturday morning workout with mates followed by lunch together,’ she adds. ‘You get the feel-good factor from the class and you get to catch upon the week’s gossip. What more could you want?’ Even better, research suggests that when you and your mates swap a bottomless brunch for a workout, you’ll be more likely to make healthier choices for the rest of the day. Win-win!
7. Pause and reflect on your healthy weight loss journey
Lacking in self-confidence? Try practising ‘mirror work’ for a simple and powerful way to cultivate your feelings of positive self-worth. ‘The way you treat yourself is the way you’ll often witness other people treating you,’ says Ran Janda, founder of Holistic Room (holisticroom.com). ‘And when you start your day with self-love, you’ll see it reflected back to you in waves.’ For the next 30 days, Janda suggests you sit or stand in front of a mirror every morning while making eye contact with yourself without any feelings of judgement, then say out loud, ‘I’m worthy of love and happiness, and I’m beautiful and perfect just the way I am’. By saying this affirmation daily, you’ll quickly become more conscious of the words you say and connect to yourself with love and compassion.
8. Prioritise protein for healthy weight loss
Building lean muscle mass will help you to look and feel stronger, and it will ultimately help you burn more calories all day long. But you’ll need to eat plenty of protein to fuel those strength workouts you might be doing. ‘Protein helps maximise your workouts in terms of muscle growth and repair. It also helps to increase satiety, making you feel fuller for longer. This can be very beneficial if you’re trying to lose bodyfat, as it will prevent you reaching for that extra snack,’ says Becs Sand with, nutritionist at Innermost. ‘Having a protein shake mixed with water after a workout is a great low-calorie snack and provides a quick, convenient source of protein that will keep you full until your next meal.’ We recommend trying Innermost’s The Lean Protein powder (£29.95), which is formulated to encourage healthy weight loss, reduce cravings and support muscle growth.
9. Dance like no one is watching
Love dancing? Keep it up! ‘Dancing has such a positive impact on body confidence and mental wellbeing, and it starts from within,’ says Faye Edwards, fitness presenter, celebrity trainer and founder of F.I.T Jam Dance Movement. ‘It encourages you to let go of inhibitions, feel empowered and helps release feel-good hormones. Plus, you get a great sense of achievement when you learn dance steps to music you love.’ Want to raise the roof – and your heartrate – in your next cardio dance class? Make your arm and leg movements as big as possible by exaggerating every step, kick, slide, and wave.
10. Work on your posture
Standing tall and proud can do wonders for your body confidence and can also help you experience less physical pain and look instantly slimmer. But what if your posture is less than perfect? ‘There’s no single exercise for everyone’ says Hollie Grant, award-winning Pilates instructor and founder of Pilates PT. ‘Instead, your posture-improving exercises will differ depending on your “default” posture. To understand this, I tell clients they need to understand how they think they would stand if they were in a queue for ages and feeling very provides a quick, convenient source of bored. Once you learn what your posture looks like, you can work out how your posture differs from the ideal posture type (often called a “neutral position”), and then establish where you need to focus attention to make changes.’
If you are very kyphotic (you hunch over in your upper spine), Grant suggests you focus on strengthening your upper back extensors and mobilising the muscles of your chest. If you are lordotic (the curvature of your lower back is excessive), you should instead focus on strengthening your glutes and mobilising your hip flexors.