Okay, so winter has been over for a long time, and the problem really started way back in fall. I should probably add “procrastination” to the already lengthy headline. Anyway, there’s no point in worrying about why it happened. I’m out of shape for the first time in my life, but all that matters is now moving forward and fixing the problem!
Since I haven’t really worked out much since last summer, I’ve started off slowly. I’m *mostly* vegetarian (I do eat fish occasionally, and sometimes I even indulge myself with a nice burger or steak), so I haven’t gained that much weight, but I’ve lost a lot of muscle tone. Reversing this in time to see results by the 4th of July won’t be easy, but I know it’s possible. There are three elements to my plan: Active Lifestyle, Exercise, and Healthy Eating.
Living an active lifestyle is an important part of staying healthy, happy, and maintaining the perfect summer swimming body. The first step for me was to start biking to work. My job is only about a mile away, but it is actually uphill both ways (seriously), so it’s actually a pretty challenging ride. When I first started, it took me about 20 minutes to make the journey, but after only a week, I’m already doing it in 10.
The best part about staying active is that I get to go camping, hiking, and biking with my boyfriend Jameson and our dog Archer. Getting fresh air, stretching out our legs, and taking in the beauty of the Texas Hill country helps keep our bodies, minds, souls, and relationships strong, all while making precious memories together.
It probably also helps that I work in the food service industry. I’m on my feet, walking briskly all day and carrying up to 20 pounds all over a busy restaurant. A server buddy of mine once used a step-tracker to determine that we walk around 4 miles on a busy shift.
I’ve been working out with Jameson in our apartment fitness center every day for a week. In addition to the 2 miles I bike every day, I also do the following workout.
- I start with yoga and stretching for about 5 minutes. I like doing Sun Salutations; it wakes up the body and stretches most muscle groups.
- Next, I do 3 miles on the elliptical. Jameson prefers the treadmill.
- Afterwards, I do a basic freeweight workout for my arms. I alternate days for focusing on arms and legs, but I do a little of everything each day. So far, these are the exercises I do: Curls, Lunges, Squats, Lat Pulls, Bench Press, and Leg Curls.
- Next, I do a quick floor workout: crunches, side crunches, six inches, and push-ups.
- Finally, I always end with 5-10 minutes of yoga. I usually do another Sun Salutation, some Warrior poses, the Tree pose, and just some basic stretching and relaxation poses.
Being mostly vegetarian definitely has it’s perks, but it’s not for everyone. I like it because as long as you do it right (eat lots of fresh veggies and grains, not too much cheese or junk food), it naturally limits your calorie intake. There is also a lot of evidence that eating less meat lowers your risk for heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and even cancer. I definitely admire the people who are completely vegetarian or vegan, but as a religious foodie, it’s hard for me to give up meat entirely.
“Meatless Mondays” have been popularized, but for me it’s more like “Meaty Mondays”. I generally try to limit my meat intake to one day a week. That’s something I’ve been doing for a while though. To amp up my healthy diet, here are the steps I’ve taken:
- Drink more water
- No soda
- Use almond milk for cereal/oatmeal
- One meal per day has to be a fresh salad. I use spinach, cucumber, carrot, celery, cranberry, parmesan cheese, and light dressing (preferably vinaigrette)
- Limit excessive cheese and carbs
- No high fructose corn syrup
- No MSG
- Limit salt intake
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Increase fresh fruit and vegetable intake
- NO FAST FOOD! Cooking at home is healthier and cheaper if you do it efficiently.
- Healthy snacks (pistachios, small amounts of dark chocolate, fruit, etc.)
After one week of following these rules and working out, I’ve found that my body has not only responded, but it also enjoys it. I have so much more energy (although clearly I still struggle with insomnia), I actually crave healthy foods and water, I am happier, and I’ve already lost 5 pounds (and not in daily fluctuation, that’s constant). I’m not trying to lose a ton of weight, but I wouldn’t mind seeing my lovehandles disappear! I’ve already increased the weight and reps for my workout, I’m holding yoga poses longer and deeper, riding my bike is easier, and carrying things at work is easier. Since I’m still new at this, I’m always looking for new exercises or pointers. If you have any advice or personal stories, be sure to let me know! Thanks for reading!
I know that by the 4th of July, my bikini body will be ready to celebrate!
Libbi Duncan is our newest contributor on all things health and wellness. Her main blog, The Cornucopia Woman can be found here, where she lists her own personal recipes as well as progress on her very first novel! Give her a follow and read her updates here!