There's no better motivation than swimsuit season to get your body in gear for the beach. Sure, a fabulous pedicure and spray tan can work wonders, but there's not much you can do to conceal bulges or jiggles once you're wearing that itsy bitsy bikini.
It's time to fast track to get your body in peak fat-burning condition. By combining the right foods and beverages and amplifying your workouts, your bod will be in head-turning shape all summer long. Follow these simple steps to help achieve the sexy summer you.
1. Fiber helps us feel full (so we eat less) and keeps us regular. It's also abundantly found in foods that are also naturally rich in vitamins and antioxidants to help slow the aging process. Aim for 25 to 35 grams per day.
2. Antioxidant-rich, fiber-rich foods are often very brightly pigmented. Spinach, tomatoes, avocados, citrus fruits, berries and squashes are just a few of the whole fruits and vegetables to include in your stay-fit plan
3. Start with a high-fiber breakfast of complex carbohydrates. Try crispy whole grain cereal, a berry-studded bran muffin or chewy nine-grain bread.
4. Fiber up your sandwich. Switching to whole grain bread and adding tomato, lettuce, onion or shredded carrot can easily add five or more grams of fiber to your meal.
5. Stock up on whole grains. Brown rice or quinoa -- they're loaded with fiber and nutrients.
6. Taco time! Soft shell tacos using whole grain or corn tortillas have more fiber and less fat than traditional white tortillas.
7. Want hot buns? Forgot about burger rolls made with white flour. If you must have a bun for your burger, be sure to choose one made of whole grains with fiber.
8. Remember that foods high in water content promote satiety. Most fruits and vegetables are 80 to 95 percent water!
9. Looking for low-cal? Half a fresh grapefruit contains just 35 calories.
10. Choose fresh fruit over dried. It contains more water and more volume, so it's more filling.
11. Berry up! Now's the time to take advantage of rock-bottom prices on fresh berries for breakfast, snacks or dessert.
12. Keep a supply of unsweetened frozen fruit on hand. Add a little Greek-style yogurt to create healthy, frosty smoothies.
13. Freeze your favorite finger fruits. They take longer to eat and provide a sweet treat when a craving hits.
14. Cooking can reduce the amount of fiber in foods, so be sure to have plenty of raw fruits and veggies too.
15. Veggie superstars to add to your line up include 1 cup of spinach (40 calories) 1 tomato (25 calories) or 1 cup of radishes (20 calories).
16. Beans and legumes are fiberific, particularly lentils. Lentils cook in as little as 20 minutes (don't require pre-soaking) and 1/2 cup of cooked lentils contains eight whopping grams of fiber. Keep a bowl of cooked lentils in the fridge to toss with vinaigrette for a quick salad.
17. Crouton-less crunch: Replace salad croutons with a few chopped walnuts, almonds, or sunflower seeds. They're a great source of healthy fats and fiber.
18. Be sure to have protein with all meals and snacks. Remember that we're trying to burn fat and maintain muscle. It's important to feed our muscles when we're busy with fat-torching exercise!
19. Eat fish at least twice a week for an excellent protein source with valuable omega-3s.
20. Burger crazy? Skip the bun and wrap it in lettuce for a savings of about 150 calories.
21. Talk turkey: A 4-ounce extra lean turkey burger has about 150 calories and 20 grams of fat less than traditional ground beef.
22. Go Greek: Greek style yogurt is creamy and rich tasting, even the fat-free version. It also has more protein than traditional yogurts.
23. Egg whites are the ultimate source of lean protein. Sure, a yolk now and then is fine, but pure egg whites have no fat. One large egg white has only 17 calories and four grams of protein.
24. Edamame is a terrific snack and great source of protein. Keep a few bags in the freezer to thaw and steam anytime.
25. Good hydration is important year round, especially when you're actively exercising. It's even more important in the summer months, so be sure to keep your water bottle with you at all times. Water keeps you hydrated, keeps you cool, and keeps "things" moving when you're focused on a healthy, high-fiber diet.
26. Sunscreen in a glass? Pink and ruby red grapefruit juice contain lycopene, which can help protect all of that exposed skin from UV rays during summer months.
27. Have a glass of water before your meal to curb your hunger and another glass after your meal if you still feel like eating more.
28. Pour eight ounces of water into your favorite glass or mug. Now you know your serving size.
29. Wine is fine, but remember that four ounces of most wines contain 100 calories. Pour four ounces of water into your favorite wine glass and make a note of the level -- you'll never have to measure again.
30. There's no doubt that whole fruit has more fiber than juice, but grapefruit juice ranks numero uno in nutrient density. This means that eight ounces of 100 percent grapefruit juice contains less than 100 calories and is loaded with clock-stopping antioxidants such as vitamins A and C (and if you choose pink or ruby grapefruit juice, you'll also have a boost of cancer-fighting lycopene).
31. Remember, portion sizes are more often super-sized; plan to eat half and wrap up the rest to take home.
32. Choose wisely from the appetizer menu -- chances are the portion is large enough for an entrée.
33. Baked, broiled, grilled or poached usually mean less or no added fat. Pass on the fried or sautéed menu choices.
34. Ask your waiter to take away the breadbasket! Instead, have a glass of water before your meal.
35. Order any dressing or sauce on the side -- remember to drizzle, not drench!
36. If you're at a buffet, choose the smaller size plate and fill most of it with vegetables.
37. Skip dessert or, if you must, share ONE with your friend(s). Just a bite or two can satisfy a sweet tooth with a few calories.
38. Dine early instead of late at night. Waiting too long between meals makes it easy to choose empty-calorie foods.
39. Have it your way when dining out; don't be shy. Ask for sauces on the side, grilled instead of fried, etc. You're the paying customer... you're the boss!
40. Don't eat after 7 p.m. This helpful guideline applies to dining out or eating at home.
41. Clean out the kitchen cupboards and get rid of temptations like chips and cookies. There are enough temptations outside of the house -- no need to have them at home.
42. Don't skip a meal or snack. When you deprive yourself for too many hours, it's really easy to overeat at the next mealtime.
43. Eat with chopsticks -- it forces you to take small bites and eat slowly.
44. Plan ahead. We're all busy, and it's easy to grab the wrong food or skip a workout with our hectic schedules. Make your body (and your health) a top priority.
45. You must be aware of your calorie intake. You have to burn off more than you're taking in if you want to lose weight.
46. Journal it. If weight loss is your goal, buy a pocket size journal and dedicated pen. Studies show that people who keep food journals lose twice as much weight as those who don't.
47. Schedule your meals and stick with it. Skipping meals is not helpful -- it interferes with weight loss. When we wait too long between meals, we lose sight of our body's natural hunger cues. We eat too much, too fast and choose the wrong things. Don't skip meals!
48. Skip the second helpings -- get used to having one serving.
49. Snacks are just as important as your meals. Schedule them and be sure they include some protein.
50. Toss the yolks and fill your deviled eggs with hummus instead for a low fat, cholesterol-free alternative.
51. Go nuts! Sure they're high in fat, but they're mostly good fats and a small amount goes a long way. A few almonds and an apple make a quick and portable snack choice.
52. Those 100-calorie cookie or cracker snack packs aren't the end-all for healthy snacking. Most of them are just smaller servings of junk food. Nutrient-dense foods, such as fruits and veggies, or small servings of protein-rich foods are better snack choices and they're much less expensive.
53. Cut the cheese. If you're a real cheese lover, stock up on low-fat cheese sticks. They'll give you the flavor and texture satisfaction with a fraction of the fat.
54. Cherry tomatoes are a delicious summer snack to keep on hand at all times. Five of these little gems contain a gram of fiber and less than 20 calories.
55. If you're grilling dinner tonight, wrap medium size raw asparagus spears in a thin slice of lean turkey breast and grill for two to three minutes or until the asparagus is just done.
Cooking, Shopping and Kitchen Tips
56. Say "so long!" to fast food! Summer's the perfect time to change to a fresh food diet while a bounty of produce is in season and affordable. Goodbye double cheeseburger, hello chicken Caesar salad.
57. Love those labels. Just because it's low in calories (or fat) doesn't mean it's good for you. Read the ingredient list too. If it contains too many words you can't pronounce, put it back. It's probably loaded with preservatives.
58. Pick up a spray mister at the drug store and fill it with your favorite cooking oil. Not only does it release a miserly portion of calorie-loaded oil, it contains no toxic hydrocarbons found in commercial oil spray cans.
59. Buy a scale and measuring cups to measure your favorite foods before you eat them. You'll probably be surprised at how much you were eating.
60. Invest in non-stick pans. They're the perfect cooking tool and require little to no added oil.
61. Stock up on healthy condiments to add layers of flavor in no time flat. Good choices include ketchup and barbecue sauces sweetened without sugar, mustards galore, flavored vinegars, salsas, and infused oils.
62. Make "ready-to-eat " meals when you come home from grocery shopping. Have cut veggies and fruits refrigerated in storage containers, ready for the next meal or when you need a snack on the go.
63. Grilling is a perfect way to keep the house cool in the summer. It also adds a rich, smoky taste without adding fat to your cooking.
64. Brush your favorite grilled foods with a small amount of your fave vinaigrette for zippy flavor.
65. Chicken is not the only thing to throw on the barbie; try turkey, fish and loads of veggies. Make enough extra to create a tasty chopped salad for tomorrow's lunch.
66. Kabobs are great. Cut veggies such as peppers, eggplant, or zucchini in even-sized pieces and thread them on skewers with cherry tomatoes or mushrooms before popping them on the grill. When they're all the same size, they'll cook at the same rate. And they're low in calories and high in fiber.
67. Grill dessert! When the flames die down to low, add raw fruit to the grill. Overly ripe fruit will stick and burn. Semi-firm peach or pear halves or pineapple spears make a perfectly sweet ending to your summer meal.
68. When cooking, double up and make a big batch; put extras in storage containers to pull out when you're famished but have no time.
69. Become an herb expert. Herbs and spices add depth and flavor, making it easier to decrease or eliminate added fats or oil.
Explore Exercise Options
70. Find a trainer, a dance class, a piece of equipment, or a sport that you really LOVE and it will be easy to stick with it.
71. Find a buddy at work, school or home to share your workout time. You can motivate each other when either of you feels like taking the day off.
72. Love to lunge! This move can be done in many different ways, but one thing is for sure: It helps create a great bikini butt.
73. Cutting calories alone does not work -- you must exercise. We want to burn off fat, not muscle.
74. Tight abs can be achieved through exercise and dance moves that involve twisting and bending.
75. Hula hooping is a fun way to tighten abs while listening to your favorite music.
76. Skipping rope for 15 minutes burns about 175 calories.
77. Take the stairs. Every 10 minutes of stair climbing burns about 110 calories. It all adds up.
78. Push ups can be done anywhere, require no special equipment and yield priceless results, including toned arms and chest!
79. Spin classes are a fun (and addictive) way to burn calories while slimming your buns and thighs.
80. Running, power walking and climbing stairs are the fast track to a small bikini bottom.
81. Swimming the back-stroke can work wonders to tone and firm your arms.
82. Don't forget to track your weekly waist measurement as well as your weight. Even if the scale doesn't move your waistline may be melting.
83. Mix it up. If you've been doing only one routine for cardio, such as the treadmill or Stairmaster, switch to a machine that you've never used at the same intensity. Your heart rate will increase because you're using different muscles than what you've been doing.
84. Tango fever! Sign up for a weekly dance class to whirl away stress while spinning off excess calories.
85. Love your laps! An hour of swimming burns off 500 calories!
86. Pump iron. Be sure to include some weight training in your exercise routine. It builds muscle, and muscle burns more calories than fat.
87. Park your car at the far end of the parking lot or hop off the bus a stop or two early to add a little exercise to your day.
88. Whether you're watching television or talking on the phone, stand up! It burns more calories than sitting, and every calorie counts!
89. Be intense. Short periods of high intensity exercise burn a lot of calories.
90. Do sit down when you're eating. Focus and enjoy the experience and pay attention to your body's satiety cues. It's easy to overeat when you're focused on something else.
91. Have a favorite TV show? Watch it on a stationary bike or treadmill while getting in a workout at the gym -- a smarter choice than sitting on the couch.
92. Add intervals to your workouts. Swapping medium to high intensity intervals to your cardio routine increases your body's fat-burning potential.
93. Instead of sunbathing on your vacation, get active! Plan a biking or hiking trip this year.
94. Introduce variety into your exercise routine and challenge your body. The body adapts easily to routine exercise, and that's when plateaus happen.
Emotions and Rest
95. Holiday get-togethers, barbecues and family picnics can be difficult, but don't let them break the bank on your diet. Plan ahead and have a snack or a workout before you go, so you won't succumb to all of those temptations.
96. If you do overindulge, don't beat yourself up. The next day, jump back in the game. Eat less, work out more, or both! When nighttime hunger strikes, distract yourself until the temptation subsides by exercising, reading or taking a bath. Never reward yourself with food.
97. Get plenty of sleep. It's easier to overeat when you're tired. Caffeine, sugar and simple carbs are the worst choices for a pick-me-up.
98. Avoid boredom or stress, which lead to mindless eating.
99. Be sure to pitch the junk food and have healthy snacks in the house at all times. If a random craving hits, the only choice you can make will be a good one.
100. Reward your successes when you achieve a short-term goal such as losing five pounds, losing five inches, or running a race. Small rewards are motivating but shouldn't be food-related. Perfect examples include new running shoes or a facial.
Learn more about Cheryl Forberg, RD, click here.
Cheryl Forberg, RD is a James Beard award-winning chef, former nutritionist for NBC's "The Biggest Loser" and NYT bestselling author. Her latest book is Flavor First (Rodale). She lives on a farm in Napa, California. For plenty of scrumptious recipes and weight loss tips, check out her website or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.
For more by Cheryl Forberg, RD, click here.
For more on weight loss, click here.