Hi, I’m Josh.
I began my weight loss journey eight years ago when I maxed out at 479 pounds. Even though I was a happy fat guy, I realized I was about to enter the working world and would eventually incur serious health problems. Now, over 200 pounds lighter, I was able to finally go shirtless at the beach this past summer. It was one of the biggest milestones of my life and the beach is calling my name more loudly.
At some point in our lifetimes, most of us committed to a resolution of improving our physical condition; and within somewhere between a week and a month, we valiantly failed.
It’s now March and we’ve gorged ourselves on king cake. We’ve convinced ourselves that every crawfish boil is healthy and continuously promise to start our new diet, tomorrow.
Where does that leave us but typically feeling defeated and nowhere closer to our goals. As the temperatures rise, so do our issues of getting beach body-ready.
With the overcrowded beaches come the pressures of having condos reserved, friends to accompany, and of course, the standard six pack. It takes time, but you can get the funds for lodging and food. It’s hard to arrange the perfect schedule for all parties, but you can usually get a couple dates that work for the majority. What’s not so easy is achieving the quintessential beach body. It takes not only commitment and effort to get in shape, but it does take some personal financial investment.
Thankfully, we now live in a world where resourcefulness is praised and not at the sacrifice for quality. Because, let’s face it—we can’t all afford the top-notch prices of a Hollywood personal trainer or shell out hundreds of dollars at a premium gym. Here are some ways in which you can start getting ready today, for tomorrow’s reveal.
Everything begins and ends on the tines of your fork, so we’ll naturally begin here.
We live in a culinary destination that happens to also be ranked as one of the unhealthiest cities in America. The world recognizes that our food is amazing and should be enjoyed. It should not, however, always come at the expense of our expanding waistlines. There are a ton of diets and eating plans out there—some are great, others extremely restrictive and a few are bogus. The easiest way to go about this is to focus on some general tips. Let me preface by saying that while I watch medical shows, I’m not a doctor. Of course, everyone should consult with a trusted and reputable food expert before beginning specific eating plans.
When thinking fats, think healthy fats—consume fats full of Omega-3s, coconut, avocados, Greek yogurt, nuts and fish.
Let’s stop treating this food group like the Kremlin. When prepared correctly (i.e., not fried or covered in butter), consume white potatoes, sweet potatoes, vegetables, quinoa and brown rice.
Sticking to lean, white meats such as poultry and fish are great ways to achieve your goals. You can also implement all-natural protein shakes into your eating plan for extra protein. I prefer to sub protein bars every so often, especially as my snack after breakfast or following a workout.
Desserts. Just stay away.
Writing down what you eat is just as important as recognizing what you eat. Dr. Tiffany M. Stewart, director of the Behavior Technology Laboratory with Pennington Biomedical Center, credits long-term results with food journaling. “Science has shown self-monitoring is a key tool in changing one’s eating habits,” she said. “It includes deliberate attention to one’s eating behavior and consistent recording of basic details of that behavior.”
Not all of these men and women are the devil, I promise. While I’ve met a few that make you want to think unholy thoughts, there are many more who are genuinely concerned with your well-being. If you’re like me and don’t always want to know the complete ins and outs of the industry, but want to look like you do, get a trainer. Nearly every gym has gladiators to support you in your workout. Their services range in price and offerings, and in similar fashion, so do their personalities. For example, you have the ‘yeller,’ the ‘encourager’ and the ‘soother.’ Try one out and see which works best for you.
I prefer to utilize a trainer in a new, more progressive format—a virtual trainer. Albeit, my trainer (whose name is Stephen) does actually exist and lives in Baton Rouge, most of our communication exists online and in text. Stephen sends my workouts and meal plan to me through an app he customizes to meet my goals. Inside of the app, I’m able to see the specific exercises I have to perform, get helpful tips and give feedback. And, yes, I can say and have said “I hate it and you.” Each week, we chat to discuss the week’s workout plan, any necessary adjustments and to review my food journal.
A trainer may not be for everyone, but I definitely noticed a difference in my results when I prioritized my budget to get Stephen’s help.
The ultimate app that makes you work for every pound. More specifically, its core program challenges you with high intensity workouts using your own bodyweight. It gives you a menu of items to select from based upon specific exercises and your expertise.
This app is one of my favorite ones as it’s how I like to call things “idiot-proof.” With the specific macronutrient numbers (protein, carbohydrates and fat) I have to eat each day, MyFitnessPal allows me to easily input the foods I ate and match it up with the nutritional information. It’s technological accountability and food tracking all in one.
With this app, you will need to have a corresponding Fitbit device which can cost anywhere from $59.95 to $249.95. What sets this app apart is that it allows you track your steps, calories burned, heart rate and activity level. While it might not be extremely precise, it gives a good idea of your physical exertion.
The device and application allows you to log food, sleep, water and your weight. If you need camaraderie, there’s a social component within the app that offers challenges and a leaderboard.
When you think of baring your body for the beach, your thoughts typically go to the arms, abs and chest. The great thing is that no matter if you’re at the gym, park or at your home, you can achieve great results by doing some of these exercises.
Sit-ups and crunches.
Skip over the awful flashbacks you’re having from your middle school P.E. class and focus on the truth that these exercises do work. They come in multiple varieties that focus on the dormant six-pack. The key with these abdominal movements is to use your stomach muscles to complete the exercise.
This is not the ridiculous fad that occurred some years ago. It’s holding your body in place, typically at the top of a push-up formation, for an extended period of time. While in position, you engage your core muscles as tightly as you can. By doing so, you will strengthen your abs, your glutes (bonus!), arms and shoulders.
I have to admit that before I got my hands on it, I made light of this exercise.
It reminded me of being the kid who could never double dutch on the playground. Instead of jumping, you take on the role of moving the heavy, thick ropes in multiple directions at once. This exercise engages your core, helps to sculpt the arms and can help emphasize the chest muscles.
This is probably the most classic arm exercise. You can easily spot it at the gym, from the novice to the gym rat. Why? Because when you’re wearing the tank, the ‘guns’ are fully exposed. The movement engages the biceps and deltoids.
You can perform this great arm exercise on almost ledge, chair or bench, if you don’t have access to a specific machine. Sit at the edge of your seat with your feet together. Grab the edge of the seat, while placing your hands on each side of your thigh and then lower yourself to the floor. The movement happens in bending your elbow 90 degrees and raising your body back up. It’s a different type of dip than you’re accustomed to having at parties.
Whether you jog, sprint or do intervals of each, this is one of the easiest accessible exercises to do. You can also vary it by running uphill at the levee, through trails, and of course, the treadmill.
It does go to mention that legs aren’t typically considered a “beach muscle.” If you tend to skip leg day, however, do some calf raises while you’re waiting in line at Starbucks. You’ll thank me.
Whichever way you decide to prepare, do so diligently and with wisdom. Also, use whatever resources you have around you, be it at a school, your living room or a 24-hour gym.
That beach body living deep inside of you is crying out to be rescued. It’s time to look your best in real life and not just with a filter.
Photos by Sean Gasser.