Enjoy your summer while reaching your fitness goals
Does the summer make you nervous? Do you feel like you either have to partake in everything or nothing? There is a better way. You don’t have to approach each summer or even long weekend/holiday with an all-or-nothing approach because it is doing you more harm than good in the long run.
Initially, you are amped because it feels hardcore and “right” to not eat the usual foods served this time of year. They aren’t a part of your plan is what you tell yourself so you outright avoid it. You end up having to have your own special meal and feel like an outsider in the group because you are trying to stay on track with your diet.
On the other hand, you throw your hands up and say “screw it”, and then proceed to pig out because “why not?”. Well, that’s not a good approach either because it’s showing how little control you have over yourself when it comes to certain foods and situations. Ever been there?
But enjoying the summer and losing body fat are not mutually exclusive.
You can continue to lose body fat through social events and different food choices.
You can maintain a healthy relationship with food and not feel like you have to say “no” or “yes” to everything with no middle ground.
This summer, I want you to focus on these 3 strategies to help you lose weight without giving up fun:
1 Plan your meals ahead of time. When you plan your meals, starting with your protein source will allow you to hit your protein targets (most important) and keep you fuller for longer. Planning your meals will also allow you to plan for the fun stuff (donuts, beers, margaritas, BBQs) so that you can fit those foods and drinks into your nutrition plan. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you can’t have that stuff just because you want to shed some pounds.
Keeping a food log, such as MyFitnessPal, will keep you accountable for what you eat is key. Our mental recap of food intake is flawed and we tend to forget things. Writing everything you ate/plan to eat will keep you honest and thus more likely to succeed. Calorie tracking can seem daunting at first glance, but it’s just another skill. I always say, “if you take your phone to the bathroom, you have time to track your calories”.
2 Focus on whole foods first. Foods that had a face or came out of the ground are your best bet to build a diet from. Packaged food, whilst delicious, is easier to overeat and provides little nutritional value. It is literally designed to be as delicious as possible and make you want to go back for more. Not only that, because they don’t have much nutritional value, you’re typically hungry even after eating and that’s an easy way to drive your calories up. That means maybe pass on the chips, and more focus on lean protein and vegetables.
When you can fill the majority of your diet with whole, nutritious foods, you are going to have less room in your stomach for the other stuff, you’re going to feel better overall, and even if you’re not tracking your calories, you’re much more likely to be on track to lose fat with these foods.
3 Train full body and like you’re trying to build muscle.
First and foremost, you do not need to do any cardio to lose fat. It’s true. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do it, but if you hate it, don’t do it! You can lose fat without it. Your calorie deficit is what matters most.
Another common mistake is automatically doing 15+ reps for all exercises with really light weights. I don’t know how this came to be a thing, but lifting heavy is not going to screw up your fat loss. Lifting heavy will stimulate your muscle enough so you can keep it during your fat loss phase and not just look skinny, but toned and defined.
Going hand in hand with training too light is the constant focus on isolation exercises. Having a body part split (arm day, shoulder day, etc) is not the best way to go about losing fat. You want to burn as many calories as possible, and actually make your muscles work. This means compound movements (squat, bench press, rows, deadlifts, lunges) with moderately heavyweights. Doing these types of exercises will burn more calories in a short amount of time and still keep you feeling strong and energetic.
Try to get stronger as the weeks go by. Nobody got bulky from a calorie deficit while strength training. That just doesn’t happen.
Focusing on these 3 strategies will take care of everything you need to lose some unwanted weight while you enjoy your summer. You don’t have to suffer throughout one of the best times of the year. Lastly, just remember: be mindful, but enjoy yourself too. Life is too short to count calories at every event. Focus your energy on the company you keep and not on the food you want to eat.
Jon Vlahogiannakos, Owner of Strong Jon Fitness.
I am Jon Vlahogiannakos, Owner of Strong Jon Fitness. Whatever you’ve tried to get in great shape – I’ve been there.
I was that overweight kid growing up. That didn’t get any better going into high school. I gained up to 40lbs at a time and ended up losing it all and more to where I was skinny fat.
My dreams were to make it into a level of professional hockey somewhere, but as fate would have it, I was not good enough. It did help me shift gears and find my true passion and calling – health and fitness.
After years of trial and error, the birth of my son, injuries, and weight loss success – I can honestly say I have been where you are and I can help you get past it. I’ve made mistakes so that you don’t have to.
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