The official beginning of summer is right around the corner, but as temperatures have started to rise, people are already hitting the beaches and looking to get some sun on their skin. Of course, all of this makes some people anxious about the way their bodies look. We all crave that lean and tight physique that we can proudly show off at the beach. Well, boys and girls, getting into shape is no easy task, but if you work hard and stay focused on the end goal, you can make a lot of progress even in a couple of months. Maybe you won't be able to get the body of your dreams this summer, but you can make a huge step forward and start feeling comfortable with how you look.
Losing a few pounds and keeping them off
You can lose a decent amount of weight in 2-3 months with a good diet. Now, when I say diet, I don't mean any of the fad diets, "cleanses", creating a huge calorie deficit or restricting certain food groups altogether - these will lead to some short-term weight loss that is unsustainable. A good diet means changing your eating habits for the long-term and easing yourself into a healthier eating mindset.
If you just cut 500-600 calories from your maintenance level requirements, switch most of the junk food for healthy food and do some 10-20 minutes of cardio every day, you are looking at a weight loss rate of 1-2 pounds per week. So you can lose some 15-20 pounds in three months without starving yourself or regaining the weight afterwards.
Getting that firm and tight look
While dieting and cardio will help you lose fat and stay leaner, they won't give you that firm and toned look on their own. You'll need to do some heavy lifting about three times a week, and this goes for both men and women. Ladies, it's a myth that you will get huge, manly muscles from lifting heavy - a female body lacks the testosterone levels for this and it can take you several years of intense training to get even a tiny bit "bulky", so don't worry.
Make sure to use challenging weights, that you can't lift for more than 5-10 times, and hit all the major muscle groups hard and then touch up smaller muscles at the end. Squatting, bench pressing, rowing, pull-ups, military pressing, glute-ham raises, lunges, calf raises and several core exercises should be part of any good beach-body workout.
Choosing the right clothes
For guys this is pretty straightforward - find a few decent pairs of shorts and some swimming trunks and you are set. With women's swimwear, however, there is a lot to think about. Should you go with a bikini or a one piece swimsuit? Go with something more classical or something a bit creative, with cuts and bold lines? A very revealing ensemble, something more reserved or a simple number that manages to strike a balance between revealing and concealing? You'll need to showcase your greatest assets and hide any imperfections, and find the kind of swimwear that fits your body perfectly and makes you look great. Look for different models and color combinations until you can find something that really works well.
Dealing with cellulite
Cellulite is one of those things that can really ruin your self-image, as it can appear even in people with a healthy body fat percentage. It affects both men and women and is yet another issue to worry about, besides losing fat and building a strong body, but these aesthetic goals do overlap. Losing fat is a good start, and building strong muscles can help smooth out the skin and tighten everything up. It's all about changing your body composition, tightening the skin and reducing inflammation. A diet rich in fruit and vegetables, with a high water intake has been shown to reduce cellulite. This is just one more reason to work on your fitness. There are also non-invasive treatments that work wonders-e.g. using lasers, radio-frequency or massaging the affected area - but give only temporary results and should be used in combination with proper dieting and training.
Getting rid of stretch marks
Stretch marks can be a major psychological issue for people and cause them to lose confidence and feel uncomfortable at the beach. Many people have lost a decent amount of weight and tightened up their body, only to be faced with yet another problem in the form of stretch marks. There are some effective ways you can deal with them, so keep your chin up. One of the simplest treatments is using a micro needle roller on the affected area. This device uses tiny needles to bore into the deeper layers of the skin and create microscopic tears, promoting collagen production which helps the skin rejuvenate.
These devices are used in beauty salons, and are also available for home use. While the stretch marks are in their early stages, still reddish, you may be able to use some home remedies to help regenerate the skin as well. However, older stretch marks can't be healed as efficiently and you should seek out the help of a dermatologist.
Learning to feel comfortable in your own skin
The last, and probably most important, bit of advice I can give you is to try to feel comfortable with the way you look. It's not about having delusion - it's about being realistic but positive. I once saw a big, overweight man strut proudly around a beach in small trunks with his head held high, walking graciously as if on a catwalk, while a huge majority of the lean and muscular guys were constantly comparing themselves to others, looking stiff and trying to flex their muscles all the time. What these strong, good-looking young males lacked was confidence and a positive body-image, while the fatty had it in spades and it showed - girls would flock around him, he'd laugh with a beer in hand and everyone around him had the time of their life.
There's still plenty of time to iron out some of those minor flaws that make you nervous when it comes time to strip down to your swimwear at the beach, but the most important thing to take away is that everything can be improved upon as long as you are positive and determined. In the end, the most important thing is to have realistic expectations and to feel good about yourself if you want it to show - your body-language has more to do with how desirable you look to others than the type of bikini you are wearing.