The weather is warming up, the shorts are coming out and the summer social plans are starting to build up. You might be here because you’re panicking and not feeling “ready” for summer. Or maybe you just want to feel a little more confident in your summer clothes. Either way I want to help!
First I want you to know that every body is a bikini body truly, and you are perfect just the way you are. Life is too dang short not to wear the shorts or go to the BBQ!
But I also know that you might want to feel like your most confident self this summer and for some of you that might mean losing weight and toning up. But how the heck do you do that without having to ditch all your social plans and say no to all your favorite foods all summer long? Let’s dive in…
Before we get into what you should do to get fit for summer let’s talk about what NOT to do.
Quick note: For this article I’m assuming your main goal to get fit for summer is to lose weight and build muscle as that’s the most popular goal. If you have a different summer goal, amazing! Shoot me an email and let’s chat about how you can reach it.
Don’t do a cleanse
Please do not do any sort of cleanse. Whether it’s a juice cleanse, some special detox drink or a supplement, just please don’t. Any of these cleanses will not lead to you actually losing fat. They will cause you to lose water weight for a few days and then when you start eating and hydrating like normal again the scale will go right back up. It is not permanent fat loss, it is temporary water loss.
Like guys this is literally just flavored water -->
Don’t buy into the hype of a 30 day ab challenge
Or squat challenge, plank challenge, etc etc. You cannot transform your body in 30 days. I am sorry to tell you that but you can’t and anyone who’s trying to sell you this is just trying to take your money. Getting fit for summer will also largely come from your nutrition and not from doing a million core exercises each day.
On a similar note…
Don’t try to lose 10lbs in the next month
10lbs in a month is a very quick rate of weight loss and the methods you use to lose weight this quickly will likely not be sustainable. Meaning the results won’t last. Now this doesn’t mean that you can’t make fantastic progress in a month, because you can! I just want you to be more realistic with your goals and methods. 4-8lbs would be an incredible amount of weight to lose in a month.
Ok now that we’ve covered what you SHOULDN’T do to get fit for summer let’s talk about what you should do.
Starting with your nutrition.
In order to lose weight you need to be eating in a calorie deficit.
Ummmm ok Brooks what the heck does that mean?
It simply means eating less than your body is burning throughout the day. Now don’t panic! The amount of calories burned you see on your fitness tracker is not a clear indicator of how many calories you actually burn for the day so I don’t want you trying to eat below that.
Calories burned for the day is actually made up of these 4 components:
-Your BMR - this is about how many calories your body needs just to survive and be a human. Think of things like your heart beating, blinking, etc. This makes up the biggest chunk of your total calories burned through the day.
-Thermic Effect of Food(TEF) - AKA calories your body burns through eating and digesting food.
-Thermic Effect of Activity - The calories you burn from exercise. This is made up of calories burned DURING the activity as well as calories burned after. This is a VERY small amount of total calories burned for the day so your fat loss shouldn’t be driven by your workouts and trying to burn as many calories as possible during them.
-NEAT(non-exercise thermogenesis) calories burned from movement but NOT formal exercise. Things like walking in the grocery store, taking the stairs, cleaning, fidgeting, dancing, etc.
All of these together make up your total calories burned for the day(also known as your total daily energy expenditure). In order to lose fat & get fit for summer you need to be eating less calories than your Total Daily Energy Expenditure.
Ok it seems a liiiiiiittle exhausting to try to figure all of that out(and like a lot of math :/) Don’t worry! I have a simplified equation that takes all of this into account to help you find your deficit.
Calorie Deficit Calculation:
Goal bodyweight in lbs x 12 = total daily calories for your calorie deficit
So for example if you think you would feel like your most confident self for summer at 170lbs you’re going to do : 170lbs x 12 = 2,040 daily calories.
That’s it! You don’t need to subtract any additional calories from this. This is the total amount you should be eating if your goal is to lose fat. Don’t stress about this goal body weight. It can change over time and doesn’t have to be exact! It’s just a weight you think you would feel best at and a way to get started.
Ok cool you’ve got your calories but what about individual macros? Do you need to track those too? NO.
Macro tracking has a place but for most of us it’s overly complicated and not necessary. The only macro that I do want you tracking while in a calorie deficit is protein. Eating adequate protein will help ensure that what you’re losing is mostly fat, not muscle and will help you stay more full overall while you’re getting fit for summer.
How much protein should you be eating? Aim for .7g-1g of protein per lb of goal bodyweight.
So going back to that 170lbs example you’d be aiming for 119g-170g of protein per day.
Seriously? Carbs & fats really don’t matter?
They matter forsure and are both important, but the amount you’re eating of each isn’t all that important for fat loss. If you’re someone who prefers carb based foods like pasta, eat higher carb. If you prefer things like avocado, eat more fats! You might also notice you feel better or have more energy on a higher carb or higher fat diet. Everyone’s different!
As long as you’re hitting your calories & protein, your carbs & fats will naturally fall into place.
Ok so let me get this straight, as long as I hit my calories & protein I can eat whatever I want?!?
Yes!! But I will say that there is a difference between eating for fat loss vs eating for overall health. For fat loss, truly you could eat nothing but cake & pizza and as long as you hit your calories you would lose weight. But you’d probably be pretty dang hungry, sluggish, and just not feeling too hot overall.
For this reason I recommend still trying to build a balanced plate as often as you can to make sure you’re prioritizing nutrient dense foods while you’re calorie counting.
Shoot for a good mix of protein, complex carbs, healthy fats & veggies at most meals. Of course incorporate those more “fun” foods too, but try to eat mostly nutrient dense foods as often as you can. This will make the deficit feel a little easier overall because you’ll feel more full and your energy levels will be better.
Now that we’ve got the nutrition component down, let’s talk about what workouts you should be doing to get fit for summer.
You might have a goal right now to tone up. And in order to tone up, you’ll need to build some muscle. And in order to build some muscle, you need to strength train.
Just like there are no special detox or cleanses to help you lose fat, there are no special exercises to help you tone or lengthen your muscles.
So what exercises should you be doing to tone up?
The basics! With each workout you want to select 5-8 exercises. Truly, that’s all you need. The first 1-2 exercises should be your “main” lifts. These will be compound lifts that utilize multiple muscle groups. Think squat, deadlift, chest press, push up, pull ups, row, etc.
The rest of your workout should be made up of a mix of compound exercises & accessory work. Think glute bridges, bicep curls, tricep dips, good mornings, glute kickbacks, core work, etc.
Once you build your workouts you should do the same ones for 4-8 weeks making them more difficult as time goes on. That could mean adding reps, sets or increasing weight. I know it’s tempting to switch up your workouts every single time you go to the gym but your muscles want repetition. By following a program that lasts 4-8 weeks you’ll build muscle more effectively.
Ok but how many workouts per week should you actually be doing?
Whatever you can stick to MOST consistently. 2-4 strength training sessions a week is incredible! If you’re new to the gym, start with 2 full body days/week. If you’ve been going for awhile and it’s already a habit for you try 4 days a week with a lower, upper, lower, upper split.
What about cardio though? Where does that fit in when you’re trying to get fit for summer?
Like we discussed earlier, fat loss is not coming from calories burned through your workouts and technically cardio isn’t necessary for fat loss. BUT cardio & purposeful movement throughout the day can be very beneficial to your overall health.
If you’re not exercising at all right now I would start with a daily step goal paired with strength training. Look at your average daily steps this past week and challenge yourself to add 1-2k/day to that for the next month.
If you’re ready for more purposeful cardio in your routine I would start with 2, 30 minute sessions per week with the ultimate end goal being 150 total minutes/week. Pick lower intensity cardio that keeps your HR in Zone 2.
This means you should feel like your breathing is labored and you’re working BUT you’re still able to hold a conversation with someone without having to take big pauses to catch your breath. For most people this will be a brisk walk at first.
The last thing you need in order to get fit for summer
Consistency. You can come up with the PERFECT plan using the tips above but at the end of the day if you don’t follow through and actually take action, you won’t see results.
Strive for 80% consistency for the month in terms of hitting your calories, protein and workouts.
Why 80%? This is enough to see results and make progress without having to sacrifice your life for it. I want you to be able to attend graduations, weddings, BBQ’s without having to worry about hitting your calories and workouts perfectly.
So follow your program and do it consistently if you want results, but don’t stress yourself out by striving to be perfect. There’s no point to all of this if you’re missing out on social events and life moments just to lose those last 10 lbs :)
One final note on measuring progress…
Don’t only judge your progress by the scale. It’s going to jump all over the place during this journey and it won’t be from just fat gain or loss. Only using the scale to measure progress on your summer fitness goals will be a little frustrating! Instead pay attention to:
-How much energy you have
-How your clothes fit
-If your measurements are going down(take them every 2 weeks!)
-If your relationship with food is improving
-If your progress photos are changing(take them every 4 weeks!)
This will give you a much fuller picture of the progress you’re actually making.
That’s it folks! Your ultimate guide on how to get fit for summer. If this is sounding a little intimidating and you need someone to take all of the guesswork out of it for you, apply for 1:1 online coaching! I can help to hold you accountable, change old habits that have held you back in the past, and build new habits so this turns into a lifestyle and you maintain your progress forever.