Dr. Gray's Straight Talk

Honest and blunt healthcare discussion and advice.

Is Your Beach-Body Ready For Summer?

Posted by Dr. Gray on Wednesday, April 28, 2010

By now, your “New Year’s Resolutions” have gone the way of the dodo bird, so let’s get back on track! Know how you got off track? EXCUSES!!! Everybody’s got an excuse… I’m too tired after work… I can’t get up that early… It’s too hard to eat right… My kids keep me too busy… Well, SUCK IT UP! That’s just bull! You know it, and I know it. Everybody’s got an excuse, you just have to choose which excuse you’re going to let control your life.

Here’s an example: You can use the excuse of being too tired after work to get in 15-20 minutes of exercise… or, you choose the excuse of I’m going to have to miss the first part of American Idol because I’ve got to do my exercise. You see the difference? It all comes down to priorities. Excuses are nothing more than your internal justifications for your choice in priorities. You have to make the CHOICE to be healthy or the CHOICE to be unhealthy… either way, it’s YOUR CHOICE.

The time to start working toward that beach-ready body is now. Summer may seem off in the distance, but the best way to start prepping for it is by starting way ahead of time.

  1. Keep a food journal. Write down everything you eat. It’s amazing how many calories we take in without realizing it. You need to be aware of exactly how much you are putting in your mouth each day.
  2. Clean out the pantry and fridge. Replace those cookies and chips with healthier snacks like raw, unsalted almonds, granola, raw vegetables and high-fiber fruit such as apples and bananas to fill you up.
  3. Restock with healthier foods. Here are a few recommendations:
    • Brown rice, oatmeal, steel-cut oats, whole-wheat bread
    • Eggs
    • Canned tuna
    • Lean protein such as chicken, fish and beef
    • Green vegetables (peppers, broccoli, celery, green beans and cucumbers)
    • Fruits (make sure they are low on the glycemic index, such as strawberries and melon)
  4. Drink Alcohol in moderation.
  5. Get regular exercise.
  6. Good eats. You’ve gotten rid of the bad stuff and restocked with the good. Now what? Here’s a sample menu for the day:
    • Breakfast: Steel-cut oats, whey protein and blueberries; or egg-white omelet, whole wheat toast and melon; or oatmeal, cottage cheese and strawberries.
    • Snack One: Protein bar; or whey protein and small piece of fruit; or cottage cheese with fruit; or yogurt with strawberries.
    • Lunch: Grilled chicken, beef or fish, with salad and brown rice; or tuna on rye bread; or oven-roasted turkey with sweet potato and green vegetables.
    • Snack Two: Choose one of the Snack One options (see above).
    • Dinner: Grilled chicken or fish with salad and green vegetables.
  7. Vitamins for fitness. Healthy food is great, but you may still need a boost. A strong vitamin regimen will help boost your immune system and build healthy bones and muscles. Choose whole food source vitamins! (Standard Process products are tops in my opinion) Chemical isolates like those you find at the local mega-mart are NOT NUTRITION, they are neutriceuticals. Remember, it’s not how many milligrams you take… it’s how many your body can use.
  8. Cardio counts. Obviously, eating right is only part of the equation. The other part is to get moving. Tons of beginner cardio workouts are available on the net. Here’s one. Or start with this:
    • Begin by walking three to five times a week (moderate pace).
    • By the end of the first week, start increasing the speed or duration of the walk.
    • As your pace and endurance increase, start interval training – alternating between very fast and moderate levels of walking (one minute on, followed by one minute off).
    • Eventually, transition from walking to a slow jog, and alternate between the two.
    • Increase the duration of the jog to five minutes of jogging, followed by one minute of walking.
    • Keep increasing the amount of time you jog vs. walk, to 10 and then 15 minutes.
    • When you can jog for 20 minutes at a time, start interval training again, alternating between short bursts of running (faster than jogging) and a quick recovery jog.
    • Increase the length of time you run.

Strong body and a strong mind. OK, so now we are eating right and have a cardio routine. Anything else? The American Council on Exercise recommends starting a strength-training/resistance program. Just 20 minutes of basic strength exercises two days a week will help firm and tone your whole body. Strength training also can increase your metabolism, which will cause you to burn more calories, even when resting. You can find a list of simple exercises at on their website.

– Dr. James C. Gray

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