Exams have come and gone, and post-exams are now but memories in our pasts. And now, it’s summer. Wait, what?! Summer already?! Has that beach trip snuck up on you quicker than you even expected? Well, worry no more, because achieving your beach body in two weeks is quite feasible.
Unfortunately, I’m not here to offer you any quick fixes or amazing moves that promise instantly toned arms in seven days. I’m here to take you back to the basics: break a sweat, eat your veggies, and love yourself.
This is about sensibility and flexibility. It’s all ratios, really: if you’re exercising and eating decently for a majority of your days, you will see results.
This is not about obsessing. Let’s be honest: we’re young and we’re girls; we rarely stuff our faces or sneak in extra pizzas per day like boys do. While “the little calories” can add up, the odds are that they won’t. An extra cookie here or there is certainly not going to damper your beach bod efforts, especially at the ripe age of 20 or so. If eating a cookie will allow you to complete a balanced lunch and look forward to a nutritious snack and dinner, then by all means eat it! Perhaps try to make it a yummy homemade one with real ingredients that will satisfy (not a pre-packaged overload of sugar that will leave you feeling ill a few hours later).
As for exactly what that balanced lunch, snack and dinner look like, again, be sensible. An easy go-to is the classic plate visualization: try to envision all of your foods on a plate. Half of the plate should be fruits and/or vegetables, a quarter should be some sort of carbohydrate or starch (preferably complex, like whole grains or sweet potatoes … did you know corn is a whole grain?!), and a quarter should be some sort of protein source, preferably lean. Incorporate plenty of healthy fats, which translates to anything you can decipher the origin of (butter gets a bad rep! It comes from a cow; can you tell me where your super-fat-free dressing does?!). Just remember: a little dab’ll do ya!
In combination with eating well, find an exercise you enjoy: if going for a run clears your head, try to do it most days. If you like to compete with others and leave it all on the field, shoot for pick-up a few times a week. If, seriously, the only way you break a sweat is when lying by the beach, then start taking long walks or bike rides to break up your day. The point here is to increase your heart rate and break a sweat more often than not.
Sure, going to the gym will help. Maybe enroll in a few group fitness classes to learn the ropes of strength and cardiovascular training, and the benefits of each. Group fitness is a hidden gym: all the benefits of a personal trainer, for about one bazillionth of the price. Try your local YMCA for super-affordable gym membership rates! Cardio machine interval circuits can be immensely satisfying, and spinning classes can be meditative. But, if you’re going to dread it, then don’t bother. Maybe explore yoga for an incredibly beneficial physical practice that is not a gym. Maybe not. Just be active. Get your blood pumping and your mood improving, whatever that may be.
I know this may sound like the same old song you’ve listened to at least a million times before, and that’s because it is. No matter what new trend or workout is in vogue currently, it always comes back to the same sound advice. Why? Because it works.
We’re all tired of reading the same things over and over and still feeling unsatisfied, reaching for some sort of workout direction. Let’s try a new approach: be honest with yourself. Are you really eating your fruits and veggies? Are you really kicking your butt into gear to break a sweat more often than not? My bet is not quite so much. So start now.
And then, pat yourself on the back. You just took a wonderful walk with your best friend and utilized your body and soul . . . I’ll take that over some obligatory gym time any day! So get ready to hit the beach, soakin’ it all in. Wearin’ a flattering suit. Being young and happy. That’s what really matters.
*Photography by Jessie Ammons