Tim Blakey is a Performance Specialist, Physiotherapist and creator of the PR1MEBODY 12- week online transformation plan. Here is his expert advice on how to shape up ready for summer.
Summer bodies are made in the Winter. There’s no debate here. The internet is flooded with ‘get-fit-quick’ fitness plans which are either unsustainable or offer no long-term benefit. Without sustainability and long-term benefit factored in, any fitness or diet regime will result in poor adherence.
Here’s what you can do, starting now, to ensure you jumpstart your ‘looking & feeling great’ outlook for the summer months ahead.
That ‘Summer body’ is a great goal, as it provides a strong motivation. However think bigger than that, adopt a more holistic, bigger plan or focus on changes you know will benefit you not only for the coming Summer but also beyond. After all, it will mean less Summer prep time in future years!
ELIMINATE BARRIERS TO SUCCESS
Calorie counting and weighing food can work for some. For others, it’s just another time consuming task that becomes unsustainable in the long run and therefore extremely inaccurate. Find a plan that avoids lumping you with additional admin. Besides, who wants to reduce meal times to a screen of numbers and calculations? Instead, structure meals and portions in a more simplistic manner. If larger meals suit you better, techniques like intermittent fasting where you can enjoy larger evening meals may benefit you more. Pick something that works for you!
DIET: ‘Eat real food’
- Adopt a diet that centres around real food. Yes, this means you will be acquiring more skills in your kitchen. Try to avoid convenience foods, even if they ‘fit your calorie goal’. Human biology and dietary requirements haven’t changed in millennia. Our bodies naturally want to be lean and somewhat muscular or toned. We require a plethora of vegetables throughout the day; healthy fats, including olive and coconut oils; good quality protein at every meal; occasional fruits; and good quality carbohydrates. So avoid processed carbs that can be found in pasta, bread and baked goods.
- This common sense approach to eating not only nourishes our body, giving it everything it needs, but also re-balances our hunger and digestive hormones to keep our satiety and gut health in check for the long haul.
- Prioritise the real superfoods. This means do not spend your money on the latest supposed ‘superberry’ that only grows in remote parts of the Amazon. The true superfoods have withstood the test of time: these include free range eggs from well-cared hens, small wild-caught fish like sardines (small fish have less accumulation of heavy metals), cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, salad leaves like spinach; and best of all, freshly roasted organic coffee.
- Coffee beans remain one of the highest sources of antioxidants known to man, so enjoy your cuppa joe daily. Be warned all the ‘fat-burner’ pills that many people with a fat-loss deadline, tend to waste their money on, as they contain high doses of caffeine. Limit yourself to 2-3 cups of coffee a day max, and don’t drink it past early afternoon especially if you struggle with getting good sleep.
SLEEP: ‘Get your 8 hours’
Sleep is probably the most underrated aspect to achieving health and fitness goals. Poor sleep and frequent sleep disruption has been proven to add to weight gain, due to its effect on our appetites as well as NEAT (Non Exercise Attributed Thermogenesis), basically how active we are at rest during the day which contributes to overall calorie burn.
Additionally, sleep is the essential repair and recovery phase of our training. Without it, all your hard work in the gym is negatively affected. Most people need a minimum of 7-8 hours uninterrupted sleep per night. Also, if your work/day allows it, don’t feel bad about having a 20minute power-nap during that afternoon lull. Studies have shown it can improve brain function. After all, a strong mind leads to a strong body. Especially when it comes to will power.
How to improve your sleep:
- Routine: Our bodies love routine, especially when it relates to our circadian rhythm. If you feel you never get enough sleep and stay up too late, set an earlier bedtime and stick to it! After enough consistent bedtimes, your body will start waking up before your alarm, provided you’re getting your 8 hours.
- Try Carb-backloading: Save your carbohydrate intake for the evening to enable release of serotonin, our relaxing feel good hormone.
- Zinc and Magnesium combined with 5HTP (precursor to serotonin) can have a calming effect and benefit sleep.
If you struggle to fall asleep:
- Dim the lights and stay off your phone/tablet/tv in the 2 hours pre-be time. Every channel and TV app has On Demand functions now anyway, so the TV Is no longer an excuse.
- Try reading a good book to tire you out, and if that doesn’t work, try reading scientific studies. That will definitely work.
- Don’t drink coffee or caffeinated teas past early afternoon.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT TRAINING: ‘Being strong is never a weakness’
- Despite popular belief, cardio is not an effective way to get in shape for Summer. In fact it’s one of the worst. Be aware that the 80/20 rule applies here, so the lion share of fat loss will come from your consistency in dietary choices.
- When it comes to training, resistance training (lifting weights) by far surpasses running, jogging, spin classes or similar due to the increased rate of calorie burn for 48 hours after the lifting session. The cardio sessions may burn more calories during the session but they get none of this ‘after-burn’.
- The addition of lean muscle – or ‘toning’ if the word ‘muscle’ deters you – keeps everything outside your swimsuit firm and keeps you inner furnace burning more calories indefinitely.
- Some class-based training can be useful, especially for the community and motivational aspect, but be cautious of too many high intensity classes that aim to leave you dead after each session. Recovery can become compromised and that can lead to injury.
- Prioritise mobility and a great variety of movements in your training. These keep potential injuries at bay and can instantly improve your posture -another underrated method to maintain compliance and instantly improve appearance.
Once you find the training plan or coach that suits you, as well as confidence in the kitchen , make it consistent. The best plan is the one you can follow, so don’t plan 6 training sessions on your first week if you’re a beginner. Plan what you know you can achieve in week 1 and build from there.
Similarly, don’t expect to have Instagramable – allegedly 15 minute meals – in your first week. What you cook may not look pretty, but does it contain a mix of single ingredient real foods? If yes, then you’re winning.
PEERS: ‘You are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time around’
Often overlooked. Who you spend your time with will either help or distract you from your journey. Align yourself with friends with similar goals. The seemingly innocent comments you may hear from friends, work colleagues and family like “hey you need to treat yourself more” or “live a little, one drink won’t hurt” are less about offering you advice and more about comforting themselves, probably because they don’t have the willpower to do what you’re doing. So choose your supportive friends wisely. Then use your lessons of success to spread positivity.
About the expert
Tim is 37 years old and a Master Trainer, Physiotherapist and Nutritionist. He was born & raised in New Zealand and now calls NW London his home – where he has lived for over 10 years. He initially trained as a physiotherapist and worked for some of New Zealand’s most recognised rugby clubs as well as Samoas national side. Whilst being a physio he found a love for nutrition & strength training. He has over 14 years’ experience working with professional athletes and high profile clients. Including a season at Queens Park Rangers (QPR), the Premier League football club. Tim is currently a Senior Performance Specialist at The Workshop Gymnasium in the Bulgari Hotel, London. Tim is the creator of PR1MEBODY, a unique fitness app that is like having your own personal trainer with you every time you exercise.