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Before we begin, you must know that getting in shape is a way of life and it’s the better choice than jumping through hoops to lose weight for a certain period of the year. Usually the biggest obstacle to achieving this goal is the very fact that the goal of being leaner for the summer is sort of superficial, but we aren’t motivated by goals like these on the inside. Your wish to be thinner only for the summer is actually not rooted in deeper convictions that would drive the behavior necessary to achieve this goal. A conflict arises between what you subconsciously want and what your mind suggests you want. And yet, if you want now to be the time you start getting ready not only for the beach, but for a complete makeover of your way of life and want to achieve actual results, in this post I will point out the main changes you need to make in order to achieve this goal – minus the familiar deprivations and self-torment.

1.Eat four meals a day.

Don’t skip your breakfast and your afternoon snack. This is the Achilles’ heel in most people’s diets. They skip breakfast and when hunger gets the better of them, they are already at the office and all they have at their disposal is candy and other sweet foods. Your breakfast determines what hormones will be released in your body and that determines your behavior and choices. Your afternoon snack should be planned and nourishing. I see it as a bridge between lunch and supper that helps you have enough energy and not get too hungry, so you can avoid eating a whole lot of food, while supper is getting ready and you’re starving.

2.Have enough protein at every meal.

I don’t want to sound like those people who emphasize enormous amounts of protein in the diet. And yet, if you read the latest IFS Journal, you probably realized what part dietary protein has to play and that, besides bringing more satiety, protein gives the body very important building blocks – amino acids that are the structural elements of neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin, catecholamines, etc.). These neurotransmitters are responsible for our behavior and wishes. When we don’t have enough serotonin, we usually reach for chocolate. When we are short on catecholamines, we get lethargic and absent-minded, etc. So my recommendation is that women stick to about 30 grams of protein at their meals and 20 grams at their snack. For men meals can contain between 40 and 50 grams of protein, while snacks can contain about 30. Naturally, it all depends on how much you exercise and how tall you are, but the general recommendations are like this, because they work in most cases. To help you get an idea of what I’m talking about, 30 grams of protein means approximately 130 – 150 grams of meat.

3.Improve your insulin sensitivity.

One of the most important things I have realized so far is that there are no bad macronutrients. There’s only a suitable environment in the body in which these macronutrients can be absorbed and the most benefit can be derived and vice versa. Many people overconsume carbohydrates, but a suitable environment is actually not created in the body, so that a benefit can be derived from their consumption. You know that one in two people are diagnosed with insulin resistance nowadays. This means that the cells are starving, because they are already insulin-resistant and can’t obtain the necessary nutrients. One of the easiest ways to improve your insulin sensitivity is weight training. Building some muscle (and especially for the ladies: No! You won’t get huge and masculine.) improves your insulin sensitivity and this way the carbohydrates in your diet (coming from natural sources, of course) will be absorbed and utilized by your body and won’t stick to your waistline or butt. So you should include weight training – 3-4 times a week would be optimal.

4.Exclude the foods you are intolerant to.

Many people consume foods their body doesn’t tolerate. This applies 100% to dairy products (especially non-fermented ones) and some grains that have a higher gluten content. In fact, this also applies to the foods we consume most frequently. If you get tested for food intolerances, you will see that you will react to the foods you eat every day. So you should rotate your foods in a certain way, but I’ll leave this for another post. Many people who are intolerant to a food, but consume it, look more swollen and seem to be retaining water, and sometimes they find it difficult to shed some weight. I found it interesting to see this in practice with two of the coaches at Wolf Gate in Prague. One of the coaches reduced her body fat percentage by 3 percent with no other change in diet, but excluding dairy products to which she has a diagnosed intolerance.  The other case involves another coach who achieved similar results when he excluded foods with a higher gluten content. You must know that when we have an intolerance to a food, but consume it, it triggers inflammatory responses in the body which affect the way we look and feel. And I’m not telling you to never eat these foods – just avoid them as much as you can or consume them more seldom.

5.Every meal should contain fat

At this time of the year many people start cutting not just calories, but also the fat they consume. This is not the right strategy, because fat is what creates satiety. You know we have receptors that register the consumption of every macronutrient. People are not aware that there is a strong chemical and electrical connection between dietary fat and the brain. More fat means more satiety and in fact dietary fat (once again we are talking about good fats) intensifies every other taste. The main thing you should keep in mind is that fat-containing foods don’t need a lot of added fat. For example, if you eat a pork steak, a fattier piece of salmon, some eggs with the yolks, you don’t need to add more fat on your plate. If your protein source does not contain a lot of fat, for example turkey, leaner beef, tuna, etc., you should add fat to your meal.

6.Choose your food by the colors

Naturally, everyone has their favorite vegetables and fruits that are often present in their diet. You don’t need to eat different things every day. This makes it difficult for most people, because they can’t make a habit of it and every day they start out wondering exactly what they should choose. But you should try adding something different, at least on a weekly basis – the different color of food (excluding M&M’s :D) shows that it contains certain micronutrients. Purple foods, for example, contain more antioxidants. Choosing food by the color, you manage to get more micronutrients. And the most important part: you avoid getting bored by eating the same meals over and over again. What often drives people away from a healthy way of life is the notion that healthy eating is monotonous – eat the rainbow and it won’t be.

7.Apart from healthy foods, there are healthy amounts, too.

This is the other crucial part. It doesn’t matter how healthy the food you choose is, if you don’t dose the amount. It’s better to put less on your plate and add some if you feel you need it, than put more and feel obliged to eat everything down to the last bite. Don’t program your mind that you have to eat the same amounts and the same number of meals every day. I’ve been there and I remember the time I thought I had to have four meals a day only. My last meal used to be an attempt to make sure I wouldn’t get hungry before I went to sleep. You’d better eat less and if you still get hungry afterwards, feel free to eat some more without feeling guilty.

8.Start walking

As I wrote in one of my posts here, walking is the best form of physical activity. First of all, it increases the amount of exercise you get and it’s also not as stressful to the body and doesn’t provoke a negative hormonal response. Second of all, walking outdoors means you get more sunlight and as I write in many of my posts, light is one of the main environmental factors that set our biological clock and regulate the release of hormones in the body. I guarantee you that if you increase your walking time by 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening, you will notice a difference right away.

9.Stop forbidding yourselves foods.

The most surefire way to eat a lot of something is by forbidding it to yourself.  It’s very important how you program your mind. You need to realize that you are allowed to eat whatever you like at any time. You just choose to eat the foods that make your body feel good and those that support your goals. Make sure you include the foods you like more often, but know that they don’t support your goal. For example, instead of waiting for a particular day of the week to eat them, you can plan them two or three times a week, but in smaller amounts. For example, if you feel like ice cream, have a scoop twice a week or have a couple of rows of chocolate twice a week. Try rotating the days and not planning Wednesdays and Sundays as the days for food you avoid. Make it more spontaneous and eat these foods when you feel like it.

10.Remember the maximum rate of return.

This is very important. Quite often, when we eat, say, one piece of something or have a glass of wine, we imagine that if we take another piece or pour ourselves another glass, it’s going to taste just as good. Normally the first piece brings us the most pleasure and that’s all we need. Every time we eat another serving after the first one, we are driven by habit and act mechanically. Stop for a while after your first serving and you will see that 10 minutes later you won’t even remember you were about to get another one. Many people overdo amounts. I’d say there are no poor food choices, just the wrong dosages. Know when to stop.

11.Keep a journal

You don’t have to do it all the time, but at the beginning it does help. The problem many people have is that they don’t even realize how much they eat and how little they move. Often we have excellent knowledge about what we should do – how to work out and eat, but our actions lag behind. Still, just because we know what we should do, we fool ourselves into thinking we are doing it. Write down what you are eating during the first week and you’ll be surprise how often you reach for something more and how food piles up and you don’t even realize it. The first step towards change is knowing where you stand. Accepting it and then doing what it takes to make the change.

12.Workouts – more is often less

One of the main mistakes of people who want to have faster results is that they exhaust themselves with physical activity. This just leads to the opposite of the desired result – it increases your appetite and you start eating more and not from the foods you want. When it comes to workouts and getting in shape, the most important thing is the environment that you create in the body. It is not important to focus on how many calories you will burn from a particular activity, but what will be the hormonal response of your body. And again, short and intense workouts with weights are the best choice. A short, 45 minute workout can lead to better results than 90 minutes of monotonous cardio. And besides that, workouts with weights will help you shape your body. Because, at the end of the day, the number on the scale is not the most important thing, but also what are the tools used to achieve it – deprivation and exhausting workouts, which lead to the skinny fat look or enough quality food and intensive workouts, which lead to an athletic body.

13.You do not have to eat fruits, as it is your last time doing it

One of the main weaknesses of people throughout spring and summer, are pounds of fruits eaten in between meals. A lot of people think that fruits are something you can eat without limitation and as if they do not contain calories. I can assure you, that if you add just a small portion of fruit to some of your meals, you will have better results, than if you just eat big quantities of fruits, instead of other meals – this usually leaves you hungry and then you crave eating more. Fruits are great, but do not forget the healthy amounts.

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Ines Subashka

Инес Субашка е основател на IFS - зали за кондиционни тренировки и мобилност. Автор е на 6 книги за здравословно хранене и движение.

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