The weather is heating up, and soon most of us will be back in shorts and t-shirts… and worrying about looking good in our dreaded bathing suits. I had the opportunity to offer some evidence-based weight loss and fitness tips to ABC News in Washington, DC. You can view the clip or read my summary below:
1. What’s the best workout regimen to get a bikini body?
I have two answers for that. The short one is: the best workout regimen is the one you’ll actually do! The longer answer is that there’s nothing better than interval training for improving fitness (and burning fat) quickly.
Interval training involves short bursts of intensive effort interspersed between periods of moderate exercise. So for example if you’re jogging, the short bursts may involve sprinting for 30 seconds to a minute and then jogging slowly or walking for 1-4 minutes. This kind of activity burns more fat and improves aerobic capacity better than moderate intensity exercise alone. Several studies have shown that interval training makes muscle fibers more efficient and powerful at contracting, as well as reducing the risk of metabolic syndrome (which can lead to type 2 diabetes).
According to the Institute of Medicine, we need at least 60 minutes per day of exercise to be maximally healthy. In my opinion, varying the exercise, and including at least two sessions of weight-based circuit training per week, is necessary for improving strength and tone… for bathing suit purposes or otherwise!
2. What’s the best diet for slimming down?
The best diet is one that is not too extreme. The biggest mistake that people make is trying to lose weight by starving themselves. This is the worst thing you can do because if you undercut your daily calorie needs too severely, the body decreases its metabolic rate and burns muscle for fuel. This results in a weaker, less fit body that is primed for fat storage. Some experts believe that “starvation mode” (muscle catabolism) begins for the average adult when they consume fewer than 1050 calories per day.
In terms of healthy eating habits, the Institute of Medicine has some good recommendations. In general, I think of healthy eating as “clean eating” – avoid refined carbohydrates (like sugar and white flour-based foods), animal and trans fats, and eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources. Eating small portions throughout the day makes it more comfortable to eat fewer calories.
3. Don’t be a slave to your bathroom scale.
I’ve had to learn this the hard way. I know it’s really tempting to look to the scale for daily feedback on your weight loss progress, but remember that getting fit and toned involves losing fat AND gaining muscle. Total weight may not change so much. Sometimes clothing fit is a better gauge of success. My trainer is 5’5″ tall, weighs 145 pounds, and is a dress size 4. She is solid muscle, and looks fantastic!
4. Believe you’re an athlete.
I recently read a research study that noted that people who “see themselves as runners” are more likely to run regularly. So, if you believe you’re an athlete, you’re more likely to act like one. Psychology is a big part of motivation and ultimate fitness and weight loss success.
5. The truth about cellulite.
Sometimes my patients ask me how to get rid of cellulite. I always tell them there are only 2 cures for cellulite: Spandex and soft lighting.
There are many creams and treatments sold as cellulite cures, but ask any reputable plastic surgeon if they can cure cellulite, and they’ll tell you it’s not possible. Weight loss, exercise, and liposuction can decrease the volume of fat on your body, but they do very little for the texture of the skin. So if you have cellulite – welcome to the club. Don’t beat yourself up about it, remember that being fit is the foundation of being healthy.