Beach vacations can be scary, and not just because of the sharks and sunburns. Most of us have had some anxiety about beach vacations because we know full well we will be in our bathing suits most of the time. So just as we hit the button that says “book my flight” to Maui, no sooner do we start asking ourselves (and close friends and family members), do I look fat in this bathing suit? Does this beach romper make my butt look big?
We’ve all been there, right? For me, this feeling of being somewhat self conscious in a swimsuit has only happened in the last year or so. Even more recently, it was the impetus for me to make some healthy changes leading up to a beach vacation.
Although I’ve always been healthy and in shape, the COVID years left me 3-4 pounds heavier and less toned than I had hoped to be at my age. So when we started to plan our Maui vacation, at the start of the year, I made another conscious effort to say goodbye to the COVID effect and start living an even healthier lifestyle than before. In other words, I wanted to become (and remain) beach-body ready and fast!
So how did I do it? Let’s take a look.
7 Ways I Upped My Fitness Game to Get Beach Body Ready
In the 2 months leading up to my beach trip, I started watching what I ate (even more than usual) and adding more and different exercise to my weekly routine. And as part of this…..here are 7 things I did to up my fitness game:
- Interval Running (4x a week) – I’ve been a runner for many, many years – even through two pregnancies. However, steady state cardio/running, although great for my heart and relieving stress, was not really moving the needle the way I wanted it to. So in addition to steady state running (running at the same moderate pace for 3-4 miles), I started adding interval training (sprints followed by light jogging) to my runs throughout the week.
- HIIT Training (2x a week) – Although I had already been incorporating light strength training with hand weights into my workouts 2x a week, my routine had become easy and complacent – so much so that I could do my whole routine by heart. So to change things up, I started to incorporate several new, targeted high intensity interval training (or HIIT) workout videos into my weekly exercise, each about 30-40 minutes. The videos focus on everything from lower body, to core, to upper body/arms and wow, do they work!
- Full Body Conditioning Classes (2-3x a week) – In addition to running and HIIT training, I also opted to take several full body conditioning classes at my local gym. This gave me the extra motivation to do double workouts several times a week and really challenge my body with new moves including martial arts, body combat and Les Mills GRIT workouts.
- Reduction in Carbs/Sugar – Although I’ve been a healthy eater my whole adult life, I certainly have a sweet tooth. And COVID definitely accentuated that sweet tooth along with a carb tooth. I’ve never been one for diets (and really have never needed to be on a diet), however, I decided to start tracking what I ate, especially carbs, to see if carbs (and sugar) were really weighing me down, pun intended. What I learned was that I was eating way more carbs (like 50-60g more carbs than I really needed) each day. But I never really noticed this overage, because my running/exercise kept this in check for the most part. After identifying how many carbs I was really consuming, I decided to limit my carb intake to something more reasonable, starting off with about 50g of carbs a day and then increasing to about 80g of carbs per day, while still eating healthy foods throughout.
- Water, Water, Water (7 days a week) – We all know that water is important for everyday health but especially when you’re exercising more. Like exercise, I made a conscious effort o increase my daily water intake – at least 8 glasses – while also consuming at least 1 mug of green tea per day. This increased water intake has helped me stay hydrated and has helped me curb my hunger, recognizing that sometimes I was not really hungry, but just thirsty.
- Sauna (2-3x a week)– If you’ve never stepped into a dry sauna, now is the time! Not only does the dry heat feel sooo good, sitting in a sauna has a ton of health benefits. One of these benefits includes relieving sore muscles, which I was definitely experiencing with all of my additional exercise. A little sauna time after a hard workout helped my sore muscles and to speed up my recovery time.
- Vacation Exercise – Although I’ve always been the type to run while I’m on vacation, I would give myself a bit of a break, maybe reducing my mileage or number of days I would run. However, on my most recent beach vacation, I continued with my full exercise plan the entire week (running, HIIT, etc) so as not to lose the momentum that I had worked so hard to build.
And the Result?
Less Bloating – The increase in water consumption combined with reduction in carbs and sugar definitely helped reduce the feeling of bloat that seemed to occur more frequently all throughout the COVID years. And with this reduction in bloat, my stomach felt and appeared flatter.
Inches Lost – In addition to weight loss, I also lost 1-2 inches around my hips and stomach. This was very apparent when I started trying on vacation clothes (and business clothes) and many were now too big to wear.
Toned Muscles – The combination of HIIT training and body conditioning left my arms, legs and stomach much more toned than before.
Weight Loss – I’ve never been overweight – minus a few “chubby” years in my tweens. But as I’ve grown older, I realize that metabolism is not as fast as it used to be and it’s much easier for me to gain a few pounds than it is to lose them. So even though I really didn’t need to lose weight, by increasing the frequency and intensity of my exercise and focusing on fewer carbs, I was able to trim 8-9 pounds off of my frame in just 2 months.
And now, here I am 3 weeks post-Maui vacation and I’m probably the most fit that I’ve ever been. But please know, this type of high intensity exercise plan and low carb eating is not for everyone. It’s hard to sustain over long periods of time and may even put your body at risk for injury. However, the best thing about this exercise plan for me was the fact that I got out of my comfort zone and made a change, any change, to my exercise routine. Because my running became just that – routine, and therefore became less effective for my body.
So the next time you find yourself planning a beach vacation and a little worried about your beach body, try making a healthy change to your diet or exercise plan – or maybe even both. And remember, the best thing you can do is to follow your instinct and do what feels right for you.