Summer is the season to strip down and shed your inhibitions, dive in to new activities, and kick back and relax. And right now's the time to make sure that you're ready -- inside and out -- for the great outdoors, the physical challenges, the vacation planning and travel, and the bathing-suit beach days.
Whether you're looking to lose weight, tone up, gain confidence, or just feel healthier, we've got the tips and tricks you need to make it happen.
To begin your summer-ready transformation, print out your Best-Body Road Map: The road map, along with the resources on the following slides, can help you track your progress toward five major goals:
If you want to lose weight before bathing-suit season, concentrate on dropping no more than a pound or two a week. "Anything more than that usually means you're depriving yourself," says New York City-based nutritionist Sharon Richter, R.D. "And when you deprive yourself, sooner or later you're going to binge and gain it back."
Operate on a 500-calorie-a-day deficit. "A pound is 3,500 calories," explains Richter. "So if you cut 500 calories a day for seven days straight, you'll lose a pound a week right there."
Operating at a deficit of 500 calories a day should involve both eating less and moving more: For example, you could consume 300 fewer calories and burn 200 extra per day.
Include both healthy eating and exercise in your weight-loss plan, and break the 500-calorie goal into smaller chunks to make it more attainable. Here are some simple ways to get there.
To Cut 100 Calories:
Swap a soda for sparkling water.
Eat a chicken breast without the skin.
Have vegetable pizza instead of pepperoni.
To Burn 100 Calories:
Spend 15 minutes biking (slow to moderate speed).
Walk or run 1 mile.
Spend 20 minutes gardening.
(All calorie counts are approximate. Use the Calorie Burner Counter to see how your favorite activities measure up.)
First, use our Nutritional Needs Calculator to determine how many daily calories you should consume in order to lose, gain, or maintain your healthy goal weight.
(Not sure what number to aim for? Our Desirable Body Weight and Body Mass Index calculators can help you find a healthy range.)
If you need to lose weight, aim to shed 1 pound a week. Commit to exercising at least 30 minutes, three days a week. Reading food labels and counting calories -- or writing down what and when (and how much) you eat -- can give you more control, as well.
Once you've reached your goal, recalculate your nutritional needs for keeping excess weight off all summer long.
One of the best ways to cut calories from your diet is to find flavor in fresh, seasonal foods: Fruits and vegetables are at their best this time of year, says Richter, so they're likely to be more affordable, taste better, and contain more nutrients than packaged or processed foods.
Turn to fruit to satisfy sugar cravings, Richter advises. "I keep frozen grapes and blueberries on hand for when I want something cold and sweet."
Along with fresh produce, use fiber-rich whole grains and lean protein as staples in your pre-summer diet.
Summer wellness isn't just about looking good in a bathing suit: Chances are you'll be spending time outdoors, traveling, ramping up your fitness routine, learning new activities, and living it up on vacation.
These things can all do a body good, physically and emotionally -- but they may also leave you outside of your comfort zone, vulnerable to illness, injury, exhaustion, and anxiety. To protect yourself from these bumps in the road, check out our summer survival kit and stress-free travel tips.
When it comes to sculpting your best body, the right diet will only take you so far. A mix of cardio and strength training is your best bet for improving strength, flexibility, endurance, and muscle tone -- not to mention outward physical appearance.
Mixing up your routine will get you total-body results -- but if you have an area you want to focus on more, that's where our summer fitness section comes in: We've got targeted exercises to tone your core, shape your arms and legs, strengthen your back, and protect your bones -- plus, a no-sweat way to boost your heart health.
Once you've developed a diet and exercise routine, check out our summer beauty section for the best ways to highlight your new and improved self. From hair care to pedicure tips (plus makeup, sun protection, and DIY-spa treatments), these ideas will help you feel confident, relaxed, and rejuvenated all season long.
Looking for extra motivation? Visit our Whole Living Community to find other women also shaping up for summer -- and all kinds of people sharing wellness and healthy-living advice. Join the Best-Body Group, write a blog, or start a discussion about your progress.
Keep it going: The healthy habits you'll learn here aren't only applicable to summer, either. Incorporate them into your lifestyle now, and you'll be healthier and happier all year round.