7 steps to get in shape for summer
It’s natural to want to look and feel at your best. But knowing where to start, with food or exercise, can be enough of a mental struggle to put you off before you’ve got started.
Follow these 6 steps to achieving your goals.
1. Discover where you have fat
We tend to accumulate a little extra fat around the tummy, but a composition body scan can give you a clear picture – gram for gram – of the distribution of fat and lean muscle around your body.
Professor David Reid at Twenty-five Harley Street, is one of the UK’s leading expert on DEXA (Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) and can provide you with a Body Composition Scan. This can be used to check bone density, but certain models – such as the one he uses, are equipped with ‘Advanced Body Composition’ capabilities and provide an extremely accurate indication of the amount, and type of fat in the trunk of your body. Some fat is harmless, whereas other types wrap around organs and increases your risk of heart disease and diabetes.
The DEXA scan will also give you a ‘body fat ranking’, which will rank your body’s fat compared to a UK population. This way you can see how you shape up to people of the same age and sex, and get a realistic picture, rather than being too self-critical.
2. Get motivated
Most experts agree, the key to sticking to exercise is to find something you love doing. Clinical and sports dietitian Rick Miller, at Twenty-five Harley Street, says, ‘It is tough to get in shape, especially if you’ve been out of shape for a while.’
The good news is, the amount of exercise you need to do is probably less than you think.
- A minimum of 150 minutes of exercise per week is recommended
- Include this is your day, such as walking to and from work, a short workout in your lunch hour and a late evening walk.
3. Put yourself first
One of the common arguments for not exercising is not being able to find the time to fit it in. Rick counters that a little ‘me first’ at times can be actually be your best ally. “Put everyone else before you and your health will suffer, then everyone else including friends, family, work will also suffers in some way. I like to call this the ‘ripple effect’.
“Whether that’s having no energy to work at your best, not feeling confident enough to attend social gatherings, feeling low or getting sick more often than you should.”
So schedule exercise into your diary like you would a dentist appointment.
4. Build muscle
Muscles burn more calories than fat, so if you are on a diet it’s important to exercise to build muscle. What’s more, you’ll find your mood improves as your body releases feel-good endorphins.
Stephanie Moore, a clinical nutritionist, who runs a private therapy clinic at Twenty-five Harley Street. She recommends finding an eating plant that’s right for you, and including resistance training with small weights as part of your workout.
“By challenging your muscles to the point of fatigue, using high weights and low reps, your muscle fibres will increase activity and density, resulting in that higher metabolic burn every second of every day while also giving your body tone and shape, not bulk,” enthuses Stephanie.
5. Eat more protein
Eating protein helps to build muscle and will give you a more sculpted look. You’ll find your clothes fit better and you look more toned.
- Eat Greek yoghurt in the morning with muesli and fruit, rather than plain breakfast cereal and milk. This will help enhance the protein content of a meal.
- Try tinned sardines, these little fish are rich in protein, the olive oil is good for heart health, and the eating the tiny bones in the fish gives you a calcium boost.
- Other foods rich in protein include meat, legumes like lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, peas and beans, tofu, nuts, seeds and grains like oats, brown rice, quinoa, millet and whole-wheat pasta.
- Fill in the gaps with a reputable brand of protein supplement. Always read the label carefully, take the recommended serving size and don’t be tempted to take far more than is necessary.
6. Keep bones healthy
You need to get the right framework to look and feel good. This means looking after your bones. While impact sports, even walking, can increase bone density, repetitive sports can put strain on bones, especially joints, shins and feet. To keep tabs on the health of your bones, Prof Reid can carry out a bone density scan, and offers advice for future bone health and how to keep the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis at bay.
7. Look after your feet
Whether it’s simple wear and tear, or damage as a result of exercise or wearing high heels, it’s important to take care of your tootsies.
- Feet are an often neglected area of our bodies but are critical to our overall health, posture, balance and mobility.
- As well as physical pain and discomfort, there can be psychological damage if you feel you have to hide away deformed feet. “I believe women should have the freedom to wear the shoes that they want to wear,” says Haroon Mann, a Consultant Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgeon and expert in foot and ankle reconstruction. “Whether you’d rather wear heels or flats, I think it’s important to enable women to make that decision, and take pain out of the equation.”