Five Ways to Stay Swimsuit Ready Through Labor Day (And Beyond!)
It's one of those cruel twists of summer. It's the season of barbeques, family reunions, amusement parks, and all kinds of family foodie fun. And yet, you're expected to shimmy into a swimsuit and sarong every weekend? It's enough to make you pray for a cold, rainy day—or twelve. But these five diet and fitness tricks and tips can help you stave off extra summer poundage and keep you feeling cool and confident.
1. Do this Don't. If you're determined to cut out, say, fried foods, simply saying "I DON'T eat fried foods" versus saying "I can't" can make all the difference. A recent study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that people who used this more empowering phrasing (both in speaking aloud and to themselves) were better able to resist temptation. The "I DON'T" phrasing seems to put them in the driver's seat, says the study author, and gives you a stronger sense of control over the food choices around you.
2. Find new ways to hydrate. With temperatures stuck well above 80 degrees in many areas, it's important to drink enough. But loading up on sweetened beverages only adds to your caloric load. (And the stuff sweetened with phony sugars is hardly any help, either--research has found that people who drink diet soda are more likely to gain weight.) Instead of soda or sweet teas, keep a pitcher of fresh, chilled water on hand and doctor it up with a few calorie-free techniques, which also impart flavor. Add sprigs of mint and orange slices for an ersatz 'Ade. Crisp cucumber slices give a spa-like feeling. I love adding packets of True Lemon for a lemon-y kick without all the sugar of regular lemonade. If you're doing sporty activities, the Nuun tablets dissolve quickly in water and add a hit of flavor with some electrolytes, to boot.
3. Less workout time + more effort = more calorie burn. Yes, you read right. So long as you make the minutes really count, you can work out for as little as 10-15 minutes a day. High Intensity Interval Training (or HIIT) is rapidly garnering time-crunched fans. So long as you alternate periods of intense exertion (think sprints) with periods of more moderate work (think a brisk jog) you can reap all the benefits of this quick fix. Studies that have compared the calorie burn and muscle building between a more traditional, steady-state run and these fast and furious workouts have found that the HIIT ones are the best bang for your buck in terms of boosting metabolism, helping your heart and burning fat. The BEST part? No equipment necessary. A pair of sneakers and you're all set. You can run or you can do boot-camp style drills (high knees! jumping jacks!) or anything that gets you panting. Check out this sample workout.
4. Don't just sit there! While I'm not saying you should shift every minute into overdrive, there are a million ways to amp up your activity level all day long—so you can afford the splurges you might want. So instead of staying glued to the beach chair, take a brisk walk along the sand. (Walking in sand is more challenging than on solid ground, so your calves, glutes and quads will thank you.) Organize a game of beach volleyball; pick up some Pro Kadima paddles on your way to the beach; even burying your nephew in the sand can work up a sweat! Make a goal of clocking in at least 30 minutes of extra activity—especially if you're staring down cherry pie or other treats come dinner-time.
5. You Chew, You Lose. We've all been admonished by Mom to more thoroughly chew our food, but it can actually help you keep weight gain at bay. Check this out: In a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who chewed each bite 40 times ate almost 12 percent less than those who chewed just 15 times. Chewing longer prompts our bodies to produce less of the hormone that spurs on appetite and more of the ones that stifle hunger. What's more, you'll have time for your brain to actually register that your tummy is full. While few of us are really going to tally every click of the jaw, being mindful to slow down will help. There's also an app for that (naturally!): Nutrition Guru's Eating Trainer app is free on iTunes and gives you a green signal when it's time to take another bite and a red one to indicate it's chew time.