I am from a coastal town in southern California called Rancho Palos Verdes. I moved to England about 4 years ago after I got married and as you would probably imagine, it was a serious shock to my system. When you live in the land of eternal sunshine, ‘swim suit season’ is every season and you always want to look on your game. Overnight I went from living a life that was mainly outdoors in shorts and sandals, carrying a swim suit around in my hand bag; to piling on the layers, and carrying spare scarves. One thing that I noticed after moving was how different my attitude towards diet and fitness were to a lot of my English friends. My in-laws would stare as I 'dissected' my food, friends couldn’t possibly understand that I didn’t want squash, thank you, tap water was fine, and my husband struggled to adapt to a menu that was high in protein and virtually empty of carbs. I had all of these little idiosyncrasies that initially people labelled as pickiness in me that were actually diet and fitness choices I inherited from a beach life style. Here are my 6 biggest tips not just to kick start your summer fitness regime, but to change how you feel all year.
1. Don’t waste your carbs
Something my sisters and I always say is “I wouldn’t waste my calories on that.” Carbohydrates give you a great amount of energy and they are an important part of our diet, but between burgers, sandwiches, pizza, baked goods and all the rest, our diets today are saturated in unnecessary carbs. This can leave us feeling bloated and full without having any proper nutrition. So choose your carbs wisely! I often take the bun off my burger and eat it with a knife and fork so I can enjoy my chips guilt free. My sister likes to substitute her chips for onion rings so she can enjoy a little fried goodness without the extra carbs. I like to have apple slices and peanut butter for breakfast instead of toast. Think of the meals in your day, which carbs can you replace with fruit or vegetables? Which are must haves and how can you make them count?
2. Running isn’t the only form of cardio
Californians are known for their wacky and wild work out trends. Paddle boarding, surfing, trapeze, aerial yoga, clubbercise (with glow sticks!), and the list goes on. My eldest sister and I once spent a summer cruising Groupon deals and trialing month memberships at all kinds of different fitness venues. My favorite was kickboxing, hers was belly dancing. A good gym offers variety, it stimulates the mind and should be a place you enjoy being! Cardio isn’t just about stacking up miles on a treadmill, do something dynamic that keeps you interested. Lifting weights, using circuits, getting involved in body weight exercises are all excellent ways to keep up your cardio while building strength and definition.
3. Get outside!
Never underestimate what a bit of vitamin D can do for your health and spirits. When I lived in California, you could never keep me in the house. I was often up and out first thing in the morning for a run, an afternoon hike on the cliffs, and a sunset stroll along the coast. My gym had the majority of its sessions outdoors and I must say, you don’t know sweat until you’re doing sled runs at 8am in 30 degree sunshine. Whatever your terrain, getting outside for some fresh air and sunshine makes you look and feel brighter, happier and more energised.
4. Sharing is caring
As an American, I’m used to outrageous portion sizes. My British and European friends return from trips to the USA and can’t comprehend how I could have possibly eaten like that. I don’t! My sisters and I always shared our meals and desserts. Portion sizes here are much better but not always. A burger may be single serving, but split the chips. Does everyone need their own dessert or can a little taste of a shared item or two be enough? My husband and I will share a medium smoothie instead of each getting our own. Restaurants often pack out meals with cheap filler foods, like carbs, to make the meals seem bigger. Eat what you paid for, the fresh meat and veg, and share the rest.
5. Water, Water, Water
Put down the sugary sports drinks, sodas, and fancy iced coffees! When I was young my parents used to pay my sisters and I, $1 to order tap water instead of soda when we went out to eat. It saved them money and gave us a lifelong habit of drinking water. To this day, I have not had more than a sip of a soda or a small glass of juice if I’m feeling like a treat. By small glass of juice I mean a glass of prosecco with a shot of OJ, obviously. Keeping hydrated does wonders for your body and eliminating sugary drinks will drastically reduce your sugar intake. They just are not worth the calories!
6. Start the day right
Having nice, warm weather doesn’t happen often here in England. It can be really easy to let your fitness slide into the haze of lazy summer days, especially when it is hot outside. I always do my work outs first thing in the morning to beat the heat and allow me to relax and enjoy the rest of the day. A morning workout sets the tone for the rest of your day, kick starting your energy and metabolism and getting you in the mindset of healthier choices.
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