Even though the days are longer, to me the summer season always feels shorter than the other three.
If you're feeling the season starting to run out, and you haven't quite reached the goals you set in spring, it's really not too late to supercharge your fitness before the summer is over.
There's still a good month left, and there are so many ways to re-charge your physical fitness in just three or four weeks.
If you're looking to do a short 21- or 30-day eating or fitness plan, there are many options. As long as you pick one that is doable for your current level of fitness or includes foods that don't leave you hating life, you can get through the rest of summer looking and feeling better than when it started!
You probably know that the truly fastest way to see and feel a change in your physique requires both a good fitness routine (one that is at least somewhat challenging but enjoyable enough that you will actually do) and a good eating plan. If you have been eating like crap and barely exercising, then doing one or the other will at least give you a noticeable improvement.
The great news is that there are plenty of free options out there. So if you don't mind doing a little point and click research, you will probably find one that's a good fit. To make it easier, I've got 10 solutions. Only one costs money.
1. First let's get the big boy out of the way. Home-delivered healthy meals will always be a great option for busy people. If you're not traveling for 21 days and want to stay out of the kitchen, My Fit Foods has a "21 Day Challenge." I'm the type who likes to read reviews of everything so I checked out what some bloggers had to say about the product. Depending on where you live and how often you eat out, you may find the $500-$700+ price tag for 21 days of food to be reasonable or not. Where I live in L.A., one dinner entrée costs $30 at any upscale restaurant. That's approximately how much it costs per day on this plan. According to some bloggers and Yelp! reviews, the food gets pretty high marks.
2. If you've ever had a subscription to a health and fitness magazine, it seemed like every other issue had some kind of meal plan to follow. If you didn't save them, here's a basic 30-Day Bikini Body Meal Plan. It doesn't list calories. It just lays out the meals so it's on you to know how large a portion size should be for say a turkey wrap. Calories can range from 300 to 600+ so you'll have to be cognizant of that.
3. From the king of life hacking himself, Tim Ferris offers these tips on "How to Lose 20 pounds of Fat in 30 Days... Without Doing Any Exercise." No actual meal plan to follow, no calories mentioned, just guidelines of what to eat and what not to eat. For more details, you may want to investigate his book, The Four-Hour Body.
4. There's only eight exercises to do in this "21 Day Total Body Makeover Workout" I found on Fitness magazine's website. You can probably memorize it by the end of the first week.
5. "21 Days to Fit and Lean" consists of six short workouts. Two toning, two cardio intervals and two recovery, and all are less than 30 minutes. Good for beginner to intermediate fitness levels.
6. 30 Day Fitness Challenges. As you may have surmised from the name of their website, it's loaded with all kinds of 30-day challenges. Maybe you can try doing a different one every month of the year? Or not. Just a passing thought. But since it's still summer, you may want to go straight to the "30 Day Beach Body Challenge."
7. Lionsgate BeFit is like a supermarket for fitness videos, except it's all free on YouTube (if you don't mind watching the commercials in the beginning, which you're probably used to by now). In 2012 Lionsgate Home Entertainment partnered with YouTube to provide an all-fitness channel. You'll find workouts from Jillian Michaels, Jane Fonda, Denise Austin, as well as from other less recognized names but no less talented trainers. They offer everything from yoga to boot camps, even meditation with Deepak Chopra.
8. GymRa is another YouTube fitness channel with a wide variety of full length workouts to follow. The big difference you'll see is in the scenery. GymRa, started by an entrepreneurial friend of mine from a west side gym, has a very different look from BeFit. Instead of workouts done in a studio or soundstage, all the workouts are done with beautiful outdoor scenery like gardens, beaches and cityscapes. Remember Gilad doing his workouts on the beach in Hawaii? I may be dating myself, but that's sort of what I'm reminded of. Sometimes the GymRa instructor is talking to you, other times instructions are voiced over or, the exercise instructions might be written on the screen while a fitness model is performing them.
9. Daily Hiit is pretty hardcore. They used to be BodyRockTV on YouTube, famous for showing a lot of T&A while the trainer is doing workouts worthy of a CrossFit competition. All that really changed is the company name and the on air talent. Still plenty of T&A and workouts that are no joke. Oh, and yes, they're also free.
10. The Bizzy Diet, 21-Day Fitness Plan I found on the mecca of body building website, Bodybuilding.com was designed by Cory Gregory, the co-founder of the supplement company Muscle Pharm. The program is free, but they do want you to buy their supplements. The workouts are combination of traditional weight lifting with cardio intervals in between, and are meant to be followed for times a week. Each workout is a bit over an hour long depending on how fast you can do the weight lifting part. It's a solid plan in my opinion. The only thing I don't agree with is the processed lunch meat they have as a protein option on the grocery list.
If you're ready to sweat in person with some of the best known fitness personalities you've seen on your computer screen, grab a pass for the 2014 IDEA World Fitness Fanatics Day on Aug. 15 and be part of the action at the Anaheim Convention Center.