A frosty winter is slowly retreating for many, with the blooming flowers and longer days we are drawn to spend more time outdoors. As it gets warmer and we start dressing lighter, many of us experience the dreaded “oh ooooh”. The winter holidays and long, cold, dark days seduced us into eating heavier foods and maybe even large amounts of them. And so we got fat.
Even though it may be true, I don’t like to use the word “fat”. It’s harsh and cold, like the winter. I like to use the word “fluffy”. It’s cute. It’s cuddly. It’s adorable. Just like we are right now. We got plumped out. But the fat has got to go. We only have a short while until summer, vacations, swimsuits and lighter clothes. The thought of skirts, shorts and tank tops sounds an emergency alarm for many of us, which can ignite our motivation— we WILL become lean, fit and healthy by summer!
Slow and steady is the way
Slow down though, don’t rush. Don’t take drastic measures in your training program or your diet, because that could backfire. Remember the road to success includes a slow and steady approach. There are no shortcuts to health. Be smart about the journey to your summer body, because it is not just about that. It’s about being healthy, fit, and lean for the rest of your life, so it is important to do it right.
Remember your body starts in the kitchen. Lean muscles begin on your plate. Clean your kitchen cabinets, get rid of all the heavy and unhealthy foods. All the SOS foods—salty, oily, sugary—they are detrimental to your health and your summer physique. They are addicting. They mess with your willpower, diminish your self-esteem and your inner power. You may enjoy the instant gratification while eating them, they will make you feel awfully bad when you are done.
The beautiful and healthy world of plants
The easiest way to achieve health and fitness— with the least resistance from your body and eventually your mind—is the rich and beautiful world of plants. I am not suggesting that you visit a botanical garden (although that feels lovely too) rather start eating a plant-based diet. A plant-based diet delivers tremendous amounts of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fiber and yumminess.
After overeating heavy, salty, sugary and fatty foods, you may initially find fresh crunchy plants rather “boring” and “tasteless”. Please trust me, that it is just an illusion, your brain is tricking you. When malnourished, from eating processed and nutritionally empty foods, we often crave bad foods. Our bodies scream for nourishment and the best way to satisfy it is by eating copious amounts of fresh vegetables and fruits. You can make yourself feel very full and satiated without overeating. If you still have more space in your tummy, add some legumes for extra protein, some seeds and nuts for healthy fats and protein, and maybe even some grains (unless you are too sensitive to them).
You will soon notice that your taste buds have adjusted, and that eating a plant-based, whole food diet is delicious and satisfying! Your body and digestive tract will get cleaner, healthier and more efficient. Eating a light and clean, plant-based diet will energize you and make you feel light. That feeling of lightness will further feed the fire of motivation— to keep going.
Muscles look great
So once your diet is right, you might consider exercise. Not only because it makes you feel good through the release of endorphins, but also because you burn extra calories, build muscles to support your musculoskeletal system and increase your metabolism. Yes, that means that you can eat even more of those yummy plants. A reasonable prerequisite is to choose an activity that you really enjoy doing. This will help ensure that you stick with exercise in the long run.
I do recommend incorporating weight bearing (such as strength training or weight lifting) exercise be added to your repertoire, if not from the start, then eventually. You need muscles. Muscles are active tissue, they look and feel great while burning fat and creating good body posture.
Moderation is not always the key to success
You will feel super and energetic with exercise and a plant-based lifestyle. You might end up just as excited about it as me! It is okay to be somewhat excessive, just make sure that you eat enough calories to supply all the energy for your training. Also it is important to take good care of your body in between your training sessions, including things like regular stretching, self-myofascial release or a therapeutic massage.
Many claim that moderation is the key. I am a person who doesn’t “do” moderation and I tend to push the limit. This is how I find out how far I can actually go. Eating a plant-based diet has shown me that I can train so much harder, longer and more intensely than before. You too will be surprised by how much energy you will have for your training, work, family, and life in general.
You can become a better, healthier and fitter version of yourself. When you take good care of your body you will feel great. The better you feel, the healthier you desire to eat. When you eat a plant-based diet, you will be training harder and eating more. You will get a great lean body for the summer, but even more important, you will be healthy for life!
And it all starts with that one simple decision…to eat more plants.
Suzanna McGee’s unique style of mindful fitness helps athletes and fitness enthusiasts prevent overuse injuries to become the fittest ever, at any age and stage of life. She is a former Ms. Natural Olympia drug-free bodybuilding champion, now competitive tennis player, author, speaker and performance coach with over 20 years of experience. She is certified by National Academy of Sports Medicine as a Performance Enhancement Specialist and Injury Prevention Specialist and Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate graduate. She is the author of The Athlete’s Simple Guide to a Plant-Based Lifestyle: How to easily improve your health, performance and Longevity and Tennis Fitness for the Love of it: A Mindful Approach to Fitness for Injury-free Tennis. More articles by Suzanna on plant-based athletic performance and injury prevention on www.tennisfitnesslove.com