NUTRITION: TOP TIPS TO ACHIEVING YOUR SUMMER BODY

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Summer is upon us – finally! – which means you’re probably getting ready to pack your bathing suits for a summer getaway. I know I am.

No matter where you are in the world summer brings us shorter hemlines, and becoming more conscious about our bodies and how they look in these smaller articles of clothing. It's only natural, especially when we are dealing with sudden weight gain, or we are still carrying weight from the winter. It's ok, actually more than ok to want to look great in a bikini or bathing suit! No matter what type of body shape we have we, want to feel confident and comfortable in our skin. To wanting to look like Marilyn Monroe (sex bomb!) or a Victoria Secret Model, all the power to you. You deserve and can have the body that you want.

I don't want to make this post be all surface-y and all, because there is so much more that comes with feeling and looking beautiful. I will forever be a believer that beauty always, always, always come from within. I can literally see someone sparkle, and be lit from within due to their energy, loving nature and heart. But sometimes we need hard fast tips or practical things we can put to action straight away to get us closer to our confident 'bikini bod'.

Count nutrients, not calories – Sounds shocking but it’s true! Calories are nothing more than a number and a nasty source of restriction with little value to overall health and vitality. Our body does not know numbers. Instead, fill up on foods that are closest to their natural state like seasonal fruits and vegetables, fibrous whole grains like quinoa or millet, power-packed proteins like hemp seeds and essential fats like the omega-3’s to guarantee a full spectrum of nutrients. Doing so will keep your metabolism high and fat-burners set to full blast.

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Stay properly hydrated - it sounds like a simple tip but you’d be surprised at how difficult it is for some people to follow through! You should be drinking 6-8 cups of clean, filtered water per day to help your body remove toxins. Sometimes we need more, especially when active. I aim to drink 2-4 Liters a day. Add a splash of fresh lemon juice for an even better daily cleanse, as lemon water helps to alkalize the body and a body in a more alkaline state is more prone to weight loss. Green juice is also a great alkalizing and hydrating option. Keep alcohol intake at a minimum — 1-2 glasses per week to reduce bloating and weight gain (nothing against having a couple of drinks, but if you are looking to lose weight it can be a major blocker!).

Chew chew chew – Here’s a weight-loss remedy so simple that even a bunny rabbit can do it: chew, chew, chew! You can eat all the nutritious foods you want but if your digestion isn’t up to par your waistline will suffer. Chew your food at least 10–15 times before swallowing or until it feels like soup in your mouth (which is gross, but good!). It's also something that you have to practice, as it's not easy! This allows the digestive enzymes in your saliva to start breaking down food particles so that your stomach and intestines don’t work overtime. The result is better absorption of nutrients, more efficient elimination of waste and a flatter, bloat-free belly. This is something I'm personally working on at the moment.

Ditch the excessive drip – In no way am I saying no to your beloved Americano! I love my daily java. Believe it or not though, but when you drink coffee your body releases many of the same hormones as when you’re stressed! These hormones, namely cortisol, wreak havoc on your insides by boosting inflammation, causing blood-sugar instability and by affecting fat storage and abdominal weight gain! If you're drinking copious amounts of coffee try these cleaner, reduced-caffeine alternatives like green tea, yerba mate or caffeine-free coffee subs like Dandy Blend, kombucha or rooibos tea. If I feel like I need a extra boost I will drink green tea or matcha. If you are reaching for an afternoon boost, listen to what your body truly wants. Maybe its more hydration, as being dehydrated can make you quite sleepy.

Snack smart – Eating 3 meals a day is not for everyone. Nowadays it’s all about snacking and snacking smart! That is the key, not snacking out of boredom. That means you want to be noshing on three or so mini meals and two-three snacks per day. This allows the body’s blood sugar levels to remain stable so as not to disrupt insulin levels and fat storage. As a quick rule of thumb: add protein to each snack, eat slow and eat until you feel almost full. But keep in mind that if you’re not hungry, eating a snack isn’t always necessary. Listen to your body and ask yourself this: am I truly hungry? If I don’t eat a snack now, will I binge on my main meal later?

Boost healthy fats - Ditch the low-fat approach and eat foods rich in healthy unsaturated fats like extra virgin olive oil, walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, avocados and certain types of saturated fats like organic coconut oil which is actually a medium-chain fatty acid that burns quickly and used efficiently by the body as fuel. These types of fats are not the enemy when it comes to slimming the waistline. Eating them will actually promote fat breakdown in your body! Fats to avoid that will add inches: unhealthy saturated fats (trans fats) like margarine, hydrogenated oils, buttery substitutes like Earth Balance, Benecol and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter to name a few. Stay away! Unhealthy unsaturated fats also exist! They are vegetable oils like canola oil, corn oil and soybean oil to name a few. Be weary as many, even health focused restaurants use Canola oil to cook their veggies.

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Limit carbs - Ditch any processed carbohydrates immediately and for good – this includes all wheat and sugar. I would also suggest limiting high glycemic fruits and vegetables for a few weeks like corn, squashes, dates, bananas, watermelon, dried fruits as well as foods containing gluten – even the healthy alternatives to wheat that still contain gluten like sprouted whole grains breads/pastas etc. This again is not forever! Sometimes some people, depending on their body type and genetic code do better with a lower carb lifestyle, others need healthy unrefined carbs to fuel their workouts and lifestyle even when looking to drop some pounds. Figure out what works best for you.

Plate smart and watch your portions - As a general guide, visualize a clock on your plate with vegetables placed from 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock, proteins from 6 o’clock to 9 o’clock and grains from 9’o’clock to 12 o’clock. This visualization makes it easier to control your portions and load up on greens & veg while keeping proteins and grains at a minimum. If you experience bloating or gut issues of any kind, try to combine foods properly i.e. eat proteins and veggies together and grains and veggies together — never grains and proteins together as this can cause a lot of stomach distress. Further we sometimes forget that our stomachs are only the size of our fists when clenched. When you think about it, it's not that large! We tend to stretch our stomachs on a daily basis, that is why when we try to control our portions we still feel hungry, but actually are not. It's just our nerve endings in our stomach. Try to eat only two clenched fist portions of the heavier macro's - healthy fats, proteins, and carbs with unlimited leafy/water rich greens.

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Sleep at least 7-8 hours per day – Huge player here guys. The past evening I got a terrible sleep, maybe slept a couple of hours! I was so hungry all. day. long. Getting an adequate amount of shut-eye per night is just as important as daily exercise for optimal weight loss and management. When you compromise sleep your body produces more of the hormones that trigger hunger and fewer of the hormones that reduce appetite. On top of that your body becomes depleted of nutrients that help keep stress in check and blood sugars stable! Tips for a solid sleep? Avoid eating at least 3 hours before bedtime and sleep in complete darkness sans electronics (this is huge for our generation). My top tips for optimal and ample sleep: epsom salt bath with lavender oil, CALM Magnesium Drink, Chamomile Tea, legs up against the wall for ten minutes, massage, breathing techniques, writing in a gratitude journal or writing your to-do list for the next day as usually when we can't fall asLeep we are thinking of our day tomorrow. It's all about calming, relaxing and de-stressing.

Remember that it does take work. It doesn't come easy for most of us! What we put in, is what we get out. Fun fact: One of my best friends is friends with some Victoria Secret models, and she has shared that they work very hard, as if they are athletes. They eat super healthy, but dont restrict or diet. They practice moderation, exercise heaps and eat healthy 90% of the time, but leave room for yummy treats, a few drinks and pizza!

Let me know if you guys have any further tips that you want to share here! Also if you are going anywhere cool for summer holidays let me know, would love to live vicariously through you.

xx Lisa