It's just about that time of year, when our summer holiday is looming, when we ladies start to hit panic stations. Keeping up those exercise classes you started as a new year resolution is not easy and let's face it, if you're anything like me you quietly slipped away in February.
Don't think that it's too late though, because it's not. There's still plenty of time to get your workout on and besides it's just not a good idea to sit idle and scoff all the ice-cream.
We want to remove ourselves from the couch, especially since the days are getting so long and we're feeling all kinds of guilt for being inside watching box-sets of Grey's Anatomy accompanied with a glass of wine and a takeaway. The thing is, we don't know where on earth to start.
Luckily, we've got owner and instructor of Reform Pilates, Anna Frankland's number on speed dial (she's like our fitness therapist!) and we asked her to give us some tips on how to shape up for summer.
She first advised on introducing two simple exercises into our daily routine that will tighten abs and strengthen glutes and sculpt the arms. In fact, they work the entire body but only if done properly, so take careful note. Bring 'em on!
- Toe Taps
Lie on your back with your arms down by your side, your knees bent and your feet and knees hip distance apart. There should be a small amount of space, enough for a large blueberry between your lower back and the mat throughout this exercise (a neutral position).
Pull your belly button to your spine and use your hip joint to lift one leg until the knee is directly above the hip. Do the same with the other leg. Again pulling your belly button towards your spine lower the right leg the same way you lifted it until the toes touch the ground and then lift it back up. Imagine you are dipping the toes into freezing cold water, but don’t rush the exercise. Alternate sides until you have done 16 in total. Take a break by squeezing your knees into your chest and then repeat.
- Side Plank
Sit on your side propped up on your hand with both your legs out straight, one on top of the other. Press into your hand and lift your hips off the mat. Your top arm should be out straight along the side of the body. Breathe out to lift it up the top hand to the ceiling and breathe in to lower it down to your side. Do this 10 times and repeat on the other side. Increase the arm lift by one every time you do the exercise. If you would like more challenge you can also lift the
This is a tough exercise. If you have weak wrists this will help strengthen them; however if you have a wrist injury bend your elbow so that it is directly under your bottom shoulder and you are resting on it when you lift your hips.
If you find that you can’t lift your hips or get through ten arm floats then bend your bottom leg and continue with the exercise with the bottom leg bent. You should never feel any pain in your back during this exercise, or any Pilates based exercise.
The next important element of getting into shape, Anna says, is to re-think what we put inside our tums. She advises that one of the simplest and most effective ways to do this is to cut out sugar – all types of sugar. In doing this you will find that you will also cut out most processed foods, something all of us will benefit greatly from doing.
Anna recommends going cold turkey on this! She says that while the first week will be really tough, after then you will find the cravings will significantly reduce and often disappear altogether.
To help with cravings it really helps to have a healthy protein snack (nuts, crackers with cheese, apple with almond butter, toasted seeds with banana), at hand as they will usually leave you feeling fuller and more satisfied than just fruit on its own.
The best way to get and stay in shape is to move. This is really obvious but still we find ways not to get off the couch. Anna recommends buying a pedometer - the feedback it gives you will help to keep you motivated.
A basic one costs less than €10 online or you can treat yourself to something a bit more high tech such as a FitBit which will let you know once you have taken your steps and can also give you feedback on sleep, calories consumed etc. Anna recommends that you try to take 10,000 steps every day for the next five weeks – any way you wish. Just start moving more – you will not regret it!
Anna says, "If you stick with the exercise, cutting out sugar and generally moving for the next five weeks I guarantee you that your body and mind will thank you for it and hopefully you will kick start a habit of a lifetime!"