Would you believe that there are only 90 days until Memorial Day weekend? If summer is sneaking up on you and your fitness goals, there are a few things you can do to maximize the time you have left. Personal trainer Josef Brandenburg says there’s a lot you can do in 90 days, as long as you’ve got a plan. Here are some of his dos and don’ts.

DO: Set specific limits on what you’re going to change

Pick three things you want to work on. If you’ve got a lot on your plate, Brandenburg says, focus on two. Make sure you can explain your goals to someone else.

“It’s easy to talk about how you’re going to clean up your diet, but what does that mean?” Brandenburg says.

He gives the example of drinking water. Sure, you can say you’re going to drink more water, but how much is “more?” Brandenburg recommends drinking half your body weight in ounces of water. It may seem like a lot at first, but you’ll get used to it.

“This does two things for people. One, it helps to regulate your appetite and help you feel full. Two, it helps boost your exercise intensity. Your body needs to be able to sweat and cool itself off in order to keep exercising intensely. When you don’t get enough water, your body can’t cool itself down, which leads to lower levels of intensity.”

DON’T: Make it an item to cross off your to-do list

“To even get started, you have to treat it like a project. It’s a handful of things that you need to repeat over time,” Brandenburg says.

He says a lot of people who are nervous about their approaching deadline will try to do everything at once.

“You can almost never keep it up for a long enough period of time to see significant results. Even if you do get to that point, you still haven’t set yourself up to keep it up as a lifestyle. So then by this time next year, you’ll be facing the same problems.”

DO: Have a meal schedule

There are many ideas on what constitutes a weight loss meal plan. Some say eating many small meals throughout the day works best. Others say replacing a meal with a smoothie can also work. Brandenburg says a solid three square meals a day is the best plan you can have, as long as you stick to it. For those who work in an office environment, the abundance of sweets and treats can be dangerous.

“You want to have some structure, like breakfast lunch and dinner, and no snacks in between. That will keep you out of trouble, because snacking is usually when things tend to go bad.”

He also debunks the small meal-method.

“That was something bodybuilders started doing about 50 or 60 years ago to take advantage of new drugs that would allow them to gain more muscle. The only limitation was that they could only eat so much before they were going to pop. They found that eating five or six times a day allowed them to eat a lot more and maximize the effects of the drugs. However, most people don’t want to gain as much weight as possible.”

DON’T: Focus only on the problem areas

If you want to tone or tighten a certain area, fat reduction is key. That may seem obvious, but Brandenburg explains it like this.

“Fat loss is a lot like reducing the water in a bathtub. If you take a cup and scoop out the middle, you won’t end up with a cylindrical hole in the water. The whole thing goes down.”

If you want to reduce the fat in a certain area, you have to focus on the bigger picture, or your whole body.

DO: Focus on your whole body

OK, you get it. Reduce fat all over. But how do you do it? Brandenburg says nutrition and strength training are your best bets. In terms of nutrition, keep an eye on what wintry, carb-heavy foods you’ve been eating. A big carb culprit: Potatoes. Brandenburg recommends swapping out mashed potatoes for mashed cauliflower. Personally, he says, he prefers a mix of cauliflower and carrots.

“It seems to have a better texture,” he says.

In stews, parsnips, rutabagas and turnips are good potato substitutes.

“Cauliflower rice makes a good accompaniment to pretty much anything,” says Brandenburg.

Strength training is important because it makes the biggest impact on your metabolism, which is going to have the biggest impact on your whole body.

DON’T: Push yourself too hard

Brandenburg says people get themselves in trouble in a couple different ways.

“Either they do too long of a workout, or too intense of a workout, or even too many workouts.”

He says five workouts a week is the upper limit for how many times you can work out and still gain from it. Go over it, and it tends to be counterproductive.

“It’s a lot of stress for your body to get used to, and you want to make sure you give yourself time to recover. It’s only between the workouts that you’re going to make the progress that you want.”

For those who spend too long at the gym, it may affect you mentally and physically. Don’t tire yourself out too much in one day, or you won’t be able to improve upon your previous workouts the next time.

“To avoid pushing too hard, we have the three ‘Ps,” Brandenburg says. “No pain, puking or passing out. If you feel like you’re approaching any of those three, it’s time to back off.”

In addition, he says, pay attention to how you feel the next day.

“You should know you did something yesterday, but you shouldn’t be hurting and you shouldn’t feel nauseous.”

One last tip: Stay away from the scale, at least at the beginning

Brandenburg says it’s a good idea to track your progress, but using a scale may not be the best way to record your results.

“At the beginning, especially if you’re doing strength training, it will not be indicative of how much progress you’re making, in terms of pounds of fat loss,” he says.

He recommends choosing a goal item of clothing instead.

“Try it on every three or four weeks and see how it fits. A lot of the time you’ll notice that you’re making good progress, but it can also show you if you’re backtracking a bit.”

Referral: http://wtop.com/fitness/2016/03/heres-how-to-meet-your-summer-fitness-goals-starting-today/

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