Karl Henry: The healthy summer holiday body plan that can make realistic difference in a short time
The arrival of summer often sparks an outbreak of enthusiasm for healthy pursuits. People start to focus on improving their diet and exercise regimes in order to get their body 'beach-ready'.
Holidays provide a fantastic goal to aim for, and can keep you away from temptation too as the warmer weather lures you in with promises of delectable barbecues and white wine in the sun. However, the weeks before the annual summer holiday are also a time when people fall into the clutches of the quick-fix diet and training industry.
Looking to shed those extra pounds before you have to start shedding clothes? Then crazy elimination diets and punishing exercise routines certainly have some appeal. But beware: the companies offering these solutions could be enticing you into making only short-term change. It is the unfortunate truth that you will regain the weight and undo your results as soon as you go back to eating or drinking normally. Quick fix solutions can be a waste of money, time and energy.
In today's column, I wanted to combat the quick-fix promises with a healthy summer holiday body plan that can make realistic difference in a short space of time while delivering long-term results too.
Drink the right fluids
This is pretty straightforward: water is in, everything else is out. Maximum of two coffee or teas a day and simply aim to drink two to three litres of water a day. No fizzy drinks, no sports drinks, no diet drinks. You can flavour your water with mint, cucumber or fruit, but no artificial flavourings or additives. Keep your fluid intake simple for the best results.
Do resistance training
Want to feel firmer sitting on the beach or by the pool? Then you will need to add some resistance training into your week. Simple exercises such as squats, lunges, triceps dips, plank and biceps curls are all forms of resistance training that will make a big difference. Aim for three sets of each exercise and 15 reps per set. Remember to start slow and build up gradually, otherwise you will be seriously sore in the days after training.
Don't forget to rest
Rest is crucial. Work hard, but don't fall for training every day. Your body won't get time to recover, your training will suffer and you will actually get less results. My clients rest from training two days each week. Even when I am training for a big event I take at least one day a week off. As well as your rest, remember how important sleep and the quality of your sleep is. Rest is where your body recovers, regenerates and improves, so skip it at your peril.
Starvation diets just don't work. You should eat three meals a day with two snacks. Porridge or eggs for breakfast, a handful of nuts as a snack, a brown bread sandwich or salad for lunch with protein and colourful vegetables, a fruit snack and then a dinner of protein and colour. Pretty simple, isn't it? Eating healthily always should be simple. Don't complicate things when it comes to food intake, and watch the results you will get for your holiday.
Plan for your holiday
Maybe I'm odd in doing this, but when I am on holiday I train most days. Why ruin all your hard work with a week of bad food and no exercise? I'm not suggesting you should make your holiday all about training, but do plan some exercise as part of your break. Bring your runners and gear, schedule some classes, take a decent swim in the pool each day or plan a walking/hiking route. You'll increase your enjoyment of the holiday as a result.
Subscribe to The Real Health podcast with Karl Henry on iTunes and Soundcloud and get no nonsense advice about being fit and healthy every day. For more information, visit independent.ie/podcasts. For any health and fitness questions, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Karl on Twitter @karlhenrypt.