By Eric Bogy

Does the sight of new bathing suits on the clothing racks scare you? Summer is right around the corner. You might have shied away from the workouts and healthy eating that made up your New Year’s Resolution, but there is still hope to get in shape. Keep in mind that this requires a motivated, lifestyle change in order to work. You can still get sexy, fit, and toned for the summer if you follow these 5 tips:

1. Set a Goal That Doesn’t Revolve Around Weight Loss

Sure, everyone wants to lose an x-amount of weight before hitting the beach in the summer, but that is not a realistic goal. When it comes to making a goal for yourself, make it a SMART goal. You want the goal to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Based.

Don’t just say, “I want to lose 10 pounds for summer!” That’s not SMART. Instead, go beyond a limiting number that is unrealistic and realize that a number is not going to keep you motivated.

Instead, make a goal that sounds something like this: “I want to lose 5 pounds every month for the next 5 months,” or “I want to do 30 minutes of outdoor activities every day for the next 4 weeks.” Make smaller goals along the way to help you reach your ultimate goal, too. When you succeed in dropping a pant size or increase the distance you can run, treat yourself with something that helps boost your efforts for the next phase of the journey.

2. Get Rowing

On a rowing machine, that is. Now, a rowing machine is more than just a cardio workout—it’s a total body makeover when done correctly. Additionally, rowing doesn’t cause as much stress on the knee and hip joints as running does, so if you have a knee injury, for example, rowing is still available to you.

The reason you should do rowing machine workouts is because of what muscles of the body get engaged. To perform the exercise with proper technique, you have to stabilize your core, drive through the legs, activate the back, and follow through with the arms. Your breathing must also be rhythmic, full, and nourishing for the muscles so that you can continue rowing for a sustainable amount of time. Naturally, your heart rate increases, meaning you begin burning calories and also increasing cardiovascular and muscular endurance.

You can warm-up with a rowing machine or do some interval training or HIIT workouts that incorporate rowing.

But remember not to solely focus on cardio. Strength training is crucial to melting fat and building lean, sexy muscle.

3. Eat Real Food

Drop that “low fat” or “calorie conscious” treat right now. If you see “low fat,” read it as “chemical warfare.” Besides, you cannot out train a bad diet.

Instead of relying on processed food, pre-packaged diet meals (yes, even your Lean Cuisine), choose fresh fruit, vegetables, and lean protein sources instead. You want food that is as natural as possible, if not 100% organic and unrefined. Opt for grains that are rich in fiber, which will help you feel fuller longer.

This doesn’t mean you can’t have a treat. The idea is to eat clean 80% of the time and indulge 20% of the time, as per the 80:20 diet rule.

4. Keep a Food Journal

Writing down what you are consuming throughout the day will help you understand what you are eating. Most of the time, what we eat often goes without much thought. Food journaling will open your eyes to just how much leafy greens are actually in your diet, how often you drink water, and how many calories that “light snacking” actually turns into.

In order for the food journal to be effective, you need to record everything you consume, even that breath mint you just popped after lunch. Once you have a good record of your current eating habits, you can begin to redefine your diet to better aid in your fitness efforts.

There are also a plethora of food journaling apps that you can find for your smartphone, so you are never without this handy tool.

5. Try Interval Training

What is interval training, you ask? Only the coolest thing since Zumba and a lot more effective. Basically, the idea is that you work at maximum effort for a burst of 90 seconds to 10 minutes and rest for a shorter, measured amount of time. There are various ways to perform interval training, including High Intensity Interval Training (or HIIT). Interval training can be done on a cardio machine, such as sprinting for 40 seconds and resting 20 seconds before repeating or with resistance training or body weight circuits involving squats, push-ups, and other like exercises.

The benefit of interval training is that you get more done in less time, meaning more time for lounging outside and working on that summer glow!

Use these 5 tips to get sexy, fit, and toned for summer. You can do it. Simply set your goal and keep working towards it. Your efforts and fastidious food journaling and clean eating will be rewarded when you can flaunt that sexy summer body in the bikini you have been eyeing since before winter was even over.

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