Are You in Shape for Summer?

Summer--it's one of our favorite but possibly most stressful seasons. The days are long and the weather is beautiful. It's a time to get together with family and friends, and hit the beach to bask in the sun's rays while lying around scantily clad. Unfortunately it means putting away the springtime baggy clothes and baring your flesh to the world. It's time to play the fab versus flab game. You either look at yourself in the mirror and say, 'not too bad' or 'uh-oh, better get to work.'

Fortunately there's still time but you need to get started today. I've been here myself. Heck, I've had years when my weight fluctuated more than Oprahs, but I finally decided to put an end to the madness. So, how do we get into shape for the summer and then keep it off throughout the year? Here are a few fun tips that work for me.

Make a Plan
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail! It's that simple. I work with many clients that just decide to stop eating. We all know this doesn't work. It throws the body into starvation mode and slows down the metabolism. I keep a very basic monthly eating and exercise calendar on my refrigerator. This way it's the first thing that I see every morning. People who keep journals are more successful at losing weight and staying in shape. Write down what you eat and what you do; it'll help keep you on track.

Have a Contest
Create your own version of the 'Biggest Loser.' A group of about 20 of us each threw $20 into a pot. We have to weigh in once a week and at the end of the month the winner takes all. There are rules though. If you miss a weigh in, you pay $10, if you gain weight or stay the same, you pay $10. Cash is a big motivator. Remember, if you do have this type of contest, be safe. Don't try losing 10 pounds a week; two or three is fine.

Sign up for a Fall Event
It's easy to get sidetracked during the summer with all the fun outdoor eating and drinking activities taking place. Every year I try to find an interesting or challenging fall event to sign up for and begin training now. For instance, you and your friends could start training for a marathon, triathlon or a Muddy Buddy. The main thing is to find something that will help get and keep you physically active and focused not only during the summer but throughout the year.

There is still time to get into shape for the summer and take control of your life. But it begins right here, right now. Losing weight and getting fit is a simple math problem of calories in versus calories out. You have to burn more calories than you consume. It's that simple.

Next you'll need to incorporate two to three days a week of strength training and three to five days a week of cardiovascular training into your lifestyle. Combine all this together and you have one incredible recipe for success.

Get out the summer swim wear. Try it on. Look in the mirror. Decide what plan of action to take. Then make it happen. You can make this the best summer ever, but it all depends on you. You're worth it. Have a wonderful, healthy and very happy summer.

Active Expert Joe Decker is an ultra-endurance power athlete and renowned fitness trainer who has helped thousands of people get into shape. He has completed many of the world's toughest endurance events, including the Badwater 135, and the Grand Slam of UltraRunning. In 2000, Joe broke the Guinness World Records® Twenty-four-hour Physical Fitness Challenge to help inspire and motivate people to get fit. He is recognized as "The World's Fittest Man." Visit his website at www.joe-decker.com.

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