Aiming for a 'summer body?' Create long-term healthy habits instead
As the warm months of summer near, many people turn their attention to shedding pounds to attain a “summer body” that will look good in a bathing suit.
But getting into what you consider to be your summer shape is not something that can be achieved in just a few weeks, UCLA fitness experts said.
“The biggest misconception is that people think it can be attained quickly,” said Elisa Terry, associate director of fitness and well-being at UCLA Recreation. “If something happens too quickly, it’s not going to last. Instead of focusing on a summer body, people might be better served by thinking about how they can create sustainable healthy habits.”
Even if people haven’t reached their goals by the time beach and pool season arrives, they can still make summer the perfect time to start their fitness journey, she said.
And embarking on the fitness journey doesn’t have to begin with anything too strenuous, Terry explained. “Starting with walks around the neighborhood or light jogs for short distances can be effective.”
Strength training and cardio
People starting on a fitness journey often have an aesthetic goal in mind — and every person’s goal, and their journey to achieve it, is going to look different.
Whatever the goal, Terry advises that two types of exercise are essential on the journey to tone one’s body.
“Number one, you need a well-rounded strength-training program,” she said. “Number two, you need to do cardio.”
And be patient, Terry said. “It takes time to build muscle, burn fat and improve your cardiovascular health.”
Exercise + nutrition = reaching your goals
“When it comes to lifestyle modifications and physical attributes, 70% comes down to what you eat,” Hoda Hakimjavadi, clinical dietitian at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, said. “Exercise is great for your body, heart health and mental health, but nutrition also plays a significant role in helping you to achieve the physical look you want.”
And like most other aspects of life, achieving balance is essential to success, Hakimjavadi said. Starvation diets “never work. It’s important that what you eat be composed of lean proteins, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy fats such as from avocados or nuts.”
Hakimjavadi offered a simple tip for people to apply to their daily eating habits: “Make sure half of your plate is vegetables,” she said. “Eat a good breakfast, which is important to jumpstart the metabolism in the morning and have a healthy snack like unsalted nuts or apple slices with peanut butter between smaller meal portions.”