Maybe you’ve reached your fitness goals or you just are going to take a break from hard dieting, the next challenge is maintenance. One of the biggest obstacles people face after losing weight or coming off a diet is keeping their body in balance by stopping the unwanted weight from coming back or losing muscle mass. Fortunately, there are many natural ways to keep your body in tip-top shape while celebrating all the hard work you’ve already done.
Fitness experts say that diet is the most important factor in getting fit, but once your goals are achieved, exercise takes over as head honcho in the maintenance stage.
Cardio will burn fat and keep the extra sneaky pounds off, and your body will continue to look sleek and trim. Not to mention, cardio is always great for heart health, which is still important even now that you’re fit. Even small amounts of cardio is better than nothing, like taking a brisk walk after lunch or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
Strength training may arguably be more important in this stage than cardio. Strength and resistance training helps you maintain your lean muscle. The more lean muscle you have, the more calories you will burn by just existing and doing routine activities. It keeps your body burning fat instead of holding onto it. After slowing down a workout and diet routine, it is common for some muscle loss to occur which means fewer calories are burned. It also means that your body will appear less toned and beach-ready.
The body does this because of a survival mechanism from the cavemen days. Back then, food was much more scarce and the body held onto fat instead of muscle to get people through the times of famine. This mechanism carried over into modern life where food is plentiful for most people, but their bodies still tend to store fat in case there is a period of starvation on the horizon.
What you want to do is build your lean muscle up in your maintenance phase to stop the storage of extra fat. Incorporating regular strength and resistance training will keep your lean muscle active well into your senior years too which will allow for greater mobility and quality of life.
Keep the Scale Handy
Experts say you should continue to weigh yourself at least once a week to make sure your diet isn’t slipping too far off track. Weighing in regularly will help keep you accountable to your goal weight range and help you gauge how much exercise and diet you will need for the maintenance phase. Don’t wait until your clothes start becoming too snug to tune up your fitness routine.
Stress is a huge reason why people have trouble losing weight in the first place and keeping it off too. Stress is the body’s response to danger and is not a bad thing in and of itself. But chronic stressors like bills, traffic and work throw the body into stress overdrive. It ends up releasing too much adrenaline and cortisol which make you crave junk foods and want to overeat. The same things can happen in the maintenance phase, so reducing stress is a key factor in keeping that perfect beach body.
A great way to reduce stress is to take up yoga or meditation. Yoga stretches the body and releases dopamine through slow movements. There are free apps that have a professional guide you through a session with audio and video aids just like a class. Meditation can be difficult at first, but there are all kinds of online guides and classes that will teach you how to quiet your mind, which helps tremendously with stress.
Essential oils are also great for stress management. Lavender and chamomile oils are naturally relaxing, and there are diffusers that spread them through the atmosphere in your home or office. You can even get them in your relaxing bubble bath or shower.
If you’re really stressed and need a break, seek out a massage therapist, skin specialist or acupuncturist for a relaxing treatment. Massage breaks down the fiber knots in your muscles and helps your muscles later during your workout. There are plenty of DIY recipes online for a relaxing spa day at home. The key is to reduce stress in a healthy way for the overall health and look of your body.
Every human body needs water to survive and function properly. Your summer bod needs water too. Drinking plenty of it will help stimulate calorie-burning and proper metabolism functions. Also when there is too much sodium in the body, it tends to hold onto water weight and swell—making you feel and look larger than you normally weigh.
Drinking water will keep you looking great for summer and help your body stay toned. With water, all those salts are being regularly flushed out of your system so your body sees no need to store excess water weight. Hydration is also great for stomach and urinary health which will keep you able to work out and do more for your body.
Diet and nutrition are equally as important as physical activity in the maintenance phase of the perfect beach body. Some people make the mistake of reaching their fitness goals and going back to their junk food-filled ways to reward themselves for all their hard work. But this is their ultimate undoing.
After going on a diet and exercise routine, the body’s metabolism slows down to accommodate the lower calorie input so it can function better. If you eat a bunch of extra junk calories, your metabolism is moving slower because it’s used to a lower calorie diet. This results in less burnt calories and more fat gain than before your weight loss. While this is terribly unfair, once again, it is a mechanism the body uses to help you survive and therefore must be treated with delicacy and respect.
Instead of going back to a diet of junk and empty calories, keep your regular diet but you can add healthy calories and even a treat or two every once in a while. Keep eating a lot of lean protein like white-meat chicken, fish, and turkey to help promote lean muscles. Eat whole fruits and vegetables for energy and necessary vitamins and nutrients. Most vegetables are low-calorie, and some fruits are as well, which means you can eat much more of them than potato chips.
Avoid processed foods and added sugars as much as possible to support your healthy beach bod and keep it functioning well. If you’re out with friends and want to get a beer or a slice of cheesecake, allow yourself a treat every now and then. Your beach body will survive as long as you don’t overdo it and allow too many treats too often. Enjoy these little treats as they come but feed your body the fuel it craves the rest of the time.
Network of Support
Studies have shown that in the maintenance phase, women especially benefit from a network of supportive friends and family and even strangers on social media. Some people join a facebook group or fitness app with chat features to reach out to people going through similar life changes. This network of people can help encourage you to keep your beach body in awesome shape, especially when you’re going through a tough emotional time and want to eat the stress away on the couch.
Plus there’s the benefit of positive reinforcement you get by showing your body off, and people praise all the hard work you’ve done. This triggers the reward center of your brain, and the flow of dopamine makes you feel amazing and motivated to keep fit. So even if you don’t have a workout buddy in real life, consider joining an online group to get these added benefits of confidence and mood boosts. You might even help someone else on their journey which feels great too.
Maintaining your perfect beach body doesn’t have to be hard. These are small investments compared to your earlier journey toward reaching your fitness goals. Small efforts in these areas every day will culminate in a huge pay off later on. And as you age, you’ll be thankful you took these steps because you will benefit from greater health and movement.
As you maintain your beach bod, make sure that you’re using the best gear when you hit the gym. Shop Essential Fitness for wrist wraps, apparel, and other fitness accessories.