Only a few more days, and we´re into the month of June. Can you believe it? There´s no denying many of us are feeling the same slight panic and stress by the thought of jumping into a bikini any time soon (I know I am!). But it´s never to late to adjust that diet and training regime – no time like the present, right?
I´ve never been overly confident in a bikini or found to be strutting carelessly free on the beach. That´s not to say I don´t love all what summer has to bring, especially lazy, hot days by the sea – but as with the majority of us girls, I have plentiful of body hang-ups and insecurities of my own (which I won´t bore you with in this post!). In the more recent years, I´ve tried hard to learn to love my body for what it is; working out and eating well to primarily be healthy and strong.
When it comes to training, I´ve tried just about everything; from weights (I love a good Body Pump class), running, swimming, boxing, ballet, barre, HIIT, bootcamp, TRX, Reformer Pilates, Yoga, Bikram, martial arts, spinning… The list goes on. I´ve always found myself jumping on the latest fitness craze and pushing my body to the max.
But again, as with getting older (and wiser, I hope), you learn to do things you only really love and actually look forward to doing. Living in such a busy and work heavy life, we have less time, so the need to prioritise and find things that not only makes you strong, but also makes you feel good (rather than painlessly dreading it), is my main priority at the moment.
Of course, it´s all individual, depending on your time, your goals, what type of person you are, your budget, etc. I´m a firm believer in finding what works for you; we´re all different shapes and sizes and we all have different personalities and needs… I’m naturally an over thinker, worrier and often get easily stressed – and was finding myself pushing my already overworked body into crazy bootcamps, spinning and HIIT. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with these type of workouts, and that feeling of real accomplishment after a session, seemed so worth it at the time. But for me personally, I´ve realised these have been short term activities to maintain my body weight and tone, rather than focusing on creating a more calm state of mind for myself.
So, I´ve started only doing things I actually look forward to, leaving me much more level-headed (instead of on a high from a crazy workout) – yet still with a sense of accomplishment of working my body and mind, in the right way. I´m currently loving weekly sessions of Pilates and Yoga, and a long-term favourite of mine, Barre.
For the past 2-months, I´ve been training with my good friend Eva Bergstrom, founder of Cardio55, a home personal training service in London.
My one-to-one sessions with Eva have been tailor made after my personal needs and goals; getting fit for summer, using low impact, yet highly effective body defining exercises. As I have scoliosis (curvature to the spine), I´ve always had to be extra wary with what exercises I do, and I how I do them. Having someone monitor my alignment and practise precisely, is very important.
Eva fuses her favourite elements of different types of training, with focus on balance, core, breathing, building strength, increasing flexibility, whilst maintaining gracefulness, conditioning your body and increasing your metabolic rate. In other words, the perfect combination.
The 55 min sessions are either on the barre (my kitchen worktop in this instance) or a portable reformer, the latter of which is excellent for me with my bad back, as it keeps you equally balanced and more controlled at all times. No session is ever the same, and after 8-weeks of training twice a week, I feel so much stronger, leaner and longer for the summer season. And most importantly, more balanced and refreshed.
They say it´s 30% gym and 70% diet, so while fitness and training your body is incredibly important to maintain strength and health muscle for the future – having a wholesome, nutritious and balanced diet is even more crucial to your body. And if you don´t already know it; that´s eating mainly plants, a good amount of healthy and lean protein, lots of good grains and vitamin boosting fruit. Cut down on refined sugars, overload of dairy and processed food, and focusing on eating as much as you can from it´s natural state (i.e potatoes, instead of crisps).
Here, Eva shares some of her wealth of knowledge with us, just in time for the summer season…
TOP 10 WELLNESS TIPS
By Eva Bergstrom
1. WARM WATER WITH LEMON & FISH OIL
First thing in the morning, drink a cup of warm water mixed with a freshly squeezed lemon. Hold off from eating and drinking anything for at least 15 minutes, since it has a mild diuretic effect and will support your body’s cleansing system (the liver), and help alkalise the body. I recommend adding 1 tbsp of good quality fish oil to lessen the insulin response and start your fat burning. Additionally, your skin will glow, not to mention it will boost your cognitive skills such as attention and memory!
2. GO COLD TURKEY WITH ALCOHOL, SUGAR & FLOUR
Give your blood sugar a chance to stabilise. In terms of flour and sugar, the more you consume the more you want. So there is no half way here, going cold turkey is the only way. That doesn’t mean you can’t have anything sweet at all (although saying this, giving up all sweets including fructose would be the most effective), but giving your body a rest and having regular, clean breaks, will work wonders for your body. Get your sweet fix from root vegetables such as beetroots and sweet potato.
3. RESISTANCE BAND WORKOUT
The best thing with this highly effective, yet low maintenance (and cheap) workout, is that you only need a resistance band to do it! Which means this you can do this at home, during your lunch break or on holiday. The resistance band is low impact super tool that helps to tone that body in no time!
1. Squat press. Stand on resistance band and stay at your lowest ”burning point” and pulse for 5-6 seconds. Add a bicep curl as you are squatting down for an extra challenge.
2. Plié + arms. Get into a plié position, grab the band slightly narrower than shoulder width and pulse it out as you sit down in the plié. Add a tricep press as you are sitting down for a challenge!
3. Lunge with bicep curl. Do a regular lunge while doing those curls. Repeat both right and left side.
4. Donkey kick. In a kneeling position, holding one end with one hand, attach the band to the foot whilst pressing it up towards the ceiling (flexed foot). Repeat both right and left side.
5. Clamshell. Tie the band just above the knees as you are lying down on the side on the floor, open and close the knee. Repeat both right and left side.
Aim for 10 to 15 reps, repeat the circuit 2-3 times!
4. GINGER SHOTS
Whenever I feel peckish, have a need for an energy kick or have the odd headache, I have a shot of apple and ginger (cut a chunk of ginger and pop half an apple into your juicer). It always gives me lots of energy and lifts my mood. Ginger can also reduce muscle ache, lower blood sugars, has anti-inflammatory effects, helps aids fat digestion and absorption, and is super beneficial for the digestive tract.
5. RESET YOUR BODY
Check out my 28 Days Cell Balance programme, to find your physique – reset your body and keep it lean.
6. BRING ON THE CAFFEINE!
Coffee has so many healthy benefits! It helps you burn fat and boost your energy, making you nail those work outs! Stick to a black americano or espresso (without any fancy sugar syrups) and ideally organic black coffee, which is full of antioxidants and improves your digestion. If you’re not a fan of coffee opt for green tea or matcha, which is also a great energy booster and helps increase your metabolism.
7. KEEP IT CLEAN AND SIMPLE
By this I mean, protein and vegetables, seeds, nuts and greens. If you have little time for work outs it is smarter to focus on your nutrition intake intially. Unprocessed, whole foods all the way, and ideally organic produce.
8. SCHEDULE AND BOOK YOUR WORKOUTS IN ADVANCE
If you’re a member of a studio or gym, book in your workouts in advance, aiming for four sessions per week. If you’re sticking to home workouts, they should be in your calender too. Schedule them in and don’t compromise. For that extra push, commitment, attention and technique, invest in a Personal Trainer to work with. This way you’ll know how to do the exercises correctly and with perfect alignment rather than spending time doing it wrong and not getting where you want to be. Not only will they provide you with the extra motivation and goal orientation, but also the right technique you’ll need for when training solo.
9. TRADE ONE MEAL FOR A JUICE OR A SMOOTHIE
I personally like to do this every now and again with my breakfast, and my go-to green juice is spinach, green apple and ginger, topped off with some chia seeds for a small protein boost (I add avocado if I need extra fuel and energy). Make all your juices and smoothies at home, or source them from a proper juicer for real freshness. Stick to mainly veg, and one fruit only in your juice/smoothie.
Squat, Wide squat, Deep Squat, Plie Squat, Squat Jump… The variations are endless and so are the benefits! Not only is your behind going to be perky but you’ll find it increases your metabolic rate (especially when combined with more cardio/explosive moves such as a squat jump), tones your backside, abs and entire body. But learn how to do it properly too. A few good tips: Get your posture right, shoulders back, chest high and core engaged. Use your breath! Inhale on the downward motion and exhale up. Make sure that your knees are aiming for the little toes to avoid any awkward knee positions. Make sure you clench those peaches and push your hips forward as you come up, for extra lower ab activation!
Read more about Eva´s services over at Cardio55.
How are you getting fit for the summer? I would love to hear any of your personal tips & tricks!