A lot of women aspire to create the body of their dreams. While there are plenty of fad diets and cosmetic procedures being marketed to the masses, one must ultimately commit to a healthy lifestyle change to accrue the most positive results.
When you’re trying to lose weight, you may be afraid that a new workout routine will only make you bulkier, but it’s largely an unfounded fear. If you’re interested in a toned, sleek body, exercise is essential. Below are a few fitness tips that will help you get and maintain the lithe form you’ve always wanted.
Stop Being Afraid to Lift Heavy
Fitness enthusiasts espouse the importance of lifting heavy, but many women are wary of packing on an excess of muscle. The truth is that working out with heavy loads of weight won’t magically turn you into The Hulk, especially if you’re a woman. It’s naturally more difficult for women to build and maintain muscle mass than men, so you won’t get super buff unless you take supplements and live the very strict, regimented lifestyle of a bodybuilder.
Lifting heavy will give you muscle gains that will benefit your strength, endurance and ability to metabolize fat. A larger volume of muscle will increase your metabolism and help decrease your overall percentage of body fat, making you appear leaner and more slim as a result.
Use Body Weight Resistance
Weight lifting can be intimidating for beginners, and it’s not immediately accessible to everyone. Many women don’t have access to the equipment available in a gym and may be looking for an alternative that is equally effective at toning and strengthening the muscle. If you lack the strength or resources to lift heavy weights, you can always rely on the conditioning of body weight exercises.
Standard strength training exercises like lunges, squats, push-ups, crunches and leg lifts are all excellent for toning the body and creating long, lean muscles. These activities rely on imparting resistance with only body weight, though it’s certainly possible to add hand weights and resistance bands.
If you’re not used to working out, implementing strength training into your routine is essential for a good foundation of fitness. The beauty is that bodyweight exercises can be done anywhere. Whether you’re in the office or doing laundry, you can always find a spare moment to crank out some squats.
Stop Starving Yourself, Eat REAL Food
Crafting muscles certainly takes dedication to working out, but expecting big results without improving your diet is futile. People often become frustrated when they discover that their bodies aren’t changing despite rigorous exercise. If you have an excess of body fat, it may seem like you’re getting larger merely because you have a layer of fat covering your musculature. When you train, it may appear as though you are becoming “bulky” because muscle begins to extend subcutaneous fat out further.
Combating this and developing an overall slimmer physique requires an overhaul of your diet. Try to limit your intake of saturated fats derived from animals and focus on plant-based fats that stem from foods like avocado, nuts, and seeds. Padding your meals with a high volume of vegetables and fruit will minimize the amount of calories you consume while revving your body with essential nutrients and fiber. Losing weight and decreasing your body fat percentage requires you to have a caloric deficit.
You don’t have to resort to eating like a gerbil, but it’s important that you become more thoughtful of calorie dense foods relative to their nutritional value. Committing to cooking your meals and avoiding fast food and prepackaged snacks can help keep you on the rails of wholesome eating. Restricting food and being hyper aware of calories isn’t necessarily the answer, as this can lead to frustration, anxiety and disordered eating. It’s better to approach food in a way that allows you to enjoy it while also making healthy, positive choices.
If you have comfort foods you love, seek out recipes that offer alternative ingredients or methods of cooking that create a more nutritious result. For instance, if you like to bake, consider replacing table sugar with apple sauce or other pureed fruits. Instead of frying chicken, bypass the excess oil and bake it. If you love macaroni and cheese, you could substitute half of the pasta with broccoli.
Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Hydration
Staying properly hydrated is just as important as eating right. Our bodies are primarily composed of water, and when we are dehydrated, we’re actually more prone to retaining water and becoming bloated. Drinking water regularly will help clean your body of impurities and maintain the proper function of your digestive system. This reduces the appearance of bloating, especially during menstruation.
Drinking more water is also an opportunity to limit your intake of sugary drinks that offer nothing but empty calories. Soft drinks and commercial coffee beverages are often laden with an excess of sugar which can hinder your progress and derail your healthy routine. If you struggle with drinking plain water, you can add slices of fruit to your glass, which have the benefit of keeping your electrolytes balanced.
Like It or Not… Cardio Is Crucial
Strength training is vital for achieving a lean, functional form, but you won’t be able to see the fruits of your toil if you have excess fat covering your progress. Cardiovascular exercise will help your body burn fat and appear leaner. Activities like jogging, dancing, biking, stair climbing and walking are examples of moderate to high-intensity aerobic exercises that can be easily incorporated into a routine.
As long as you are consistent with exercise and a nutritionally dense diet, you’re sure to become more lean with time. You won’t have to stress about looking like a bodybuilder unless you’re interested in taking weightlifting and dieting to the extreme, which is something you’d have to do consciously rather than by accident.