As a trainer, I believe that we should feel comfortable and happy all the time — body positivity is very important! But I also know that being healthy and feeling good is important too. And, yes, some women want to look good by losing weight or toning up — and that's OK! The problem lies in equating looking good with being slim. This constant pursuit of trying to look our best can be stressful, so instead, focus on feeling your best by eliminating these quick fixes from your life and focusing on sustainable changes.
1. Crash dieting
You know the drill. That blissful upcoming beach holiday, where cocktails and sunshine are imminent. You panic and decide to starve yourself in the hope that you'll lose weight quickly, but, well, you can guess the results: you lose couple of kilos, feel awful, and just want to stuff your face full of doughnuts. Crash diets never work.
The emergency fix? Replace refined carbs with leafy greens. After a week of replacing carbs with healthy veggies, not only you will feel lighter and less hungry between meals, but your cravings for sweets and snacks will diminish.
2. Body sculpting
It's not unheard of to want toned thighs, slimmer arms, and a flat belly, but trying to spot tone is a huge waste of time. When done alone, isolated exercises rarely trigger the results you want.
The emergency fix? Stick with big, compound exercises that work the whole body like squats, push-ups, or deadlifts. Focus on intensity and make these part of a well-rounded fitness routine. Your muscles will respond by becoming stronger and more toned, and you'll also feel more energised.
3. Only doing cardio
In general, too much cardio is not the most effective way to get fit. Exercise should be about making your body adapt, and too much cardio prevents your body from making lean muscle. Without strength training, you miss out on building long, lean, and toned limbs.
The emergency fix? When doing cardio, focus on high-intensity interval training. Hill sprints, kettlebell swings, and jumping rope will burn fat while also building — and maintaining — lean muscle. You can also pack in an intense workout in only 10 to 20 minutes, which is a huge bonus if you find an hour on a treadmill or elliptical boring.
4. Too much of the same thing
Your body adapts to exercise quickly, and when it gets used to the same routine over and over, fat loss and muscle toning taper off.
The emergency fix? Mix it up and try something new. Sure, it might be a bit awkward, but ask anyone about their first yoga class. It's likely that they couldn't get into Downward Dog without a bit of a struggle either. However, the challenge and learning process of something new makes your body work harder, resulting in a boost to your fitness.
5. Worrying about the idea of a "bikini body"
Putting effort into something and not seeing results straight away is very, very frustrating. You begin to wonder if there's any point and you start to doubt yourself. All this results in extra stress. And how does your body react to this? By demanding comfort food and lazy days in.
The emergency fix? This is the time to remember that every body is a "bikini body." It's more important to feel good about yourself and focus on the benefits of being healthy and happy all year round. Turn your personal body positivity up to full volume and remember that being healthy is a state of mind not defined by a two-piece outfit.