There is no magic secret or miracle pill that will allow you to achieve and maintain a perfect body for life. If there were, we would all have gorgeous bodies, and never have to watch what we eat or run a single lap on the tread mill. As a personal trainer, and the President of Browning’s Fitness Centers, I have trained, or overseen the training of thousands of people who are struggling with their weight and fitness levels. So I can tell you, achieving your ideal body shape takes time, and determination and consistency. And sometimes, it means saying no to things that you would really like to say yes to. There is just no way around that.
But here’s the good news. Getting into shape isn’t a question of skipping breakfast or lunch and starving yourself, or running yourself ragged on the treadmill week. You don’t have to ruin your quality of life just to be fit. Fitness is a state of mind, and getting into shape is about changing how you THINK about the choices you’re making every day. To get you started, here are ten simple things that you can do that will start to shift your mindset, and improve your body shape for life.
1. As much as possible, avoid the high calorie high fat foods that will gather around your middle. Whenever possible try to avoid cheese, chocolate, butter, cream, mayonnaise, and even avocados which are healthy, but can be very fattening in excess.
2. Get in 15 minutes of intense cardio intervals with a 5 minute warm up and a 5 minute cool down. You will be amazed how just 25 minutes of exercise each day will change the way you look and feel. When it comes to exercise, choose quality over quantity. It’s better to do 25 minutes of intense cardio that burns calories and gets your heart rate up, than a two hour walk that will not burn many calories or take the weight off.
3. Remember that your body uses carbohydrates first for energy, then protein, and last of all your body uses fat. So when you’re choosing your food, remember that if you’re a marathon runner, your carbs can come from white bread, potatoes, and pasta, but if you are not in training, your carbs need to come from vegetables.
4. Always keep your portion sizes in mind. All foods have calories, and even too many carrots can make you gain weight. So again, choose quality over quantity when it comes to your calories, and remember to exercise portion control at every meal.
5. Drink lots of water. You need to consume at least 6-8 ounces of water every day in order for your body to work efficiently, filter impurities, and burn more fat. Plus water makes you feel full so that you don’t cheat between meals.
6. The bulk of your food should come from fiber, rather than protein, but remember, even excess vegetables can bloat you and make you feel uncomfortable. Too much of any food is fattening.
7. Be aware of your posture. Stand up straight with your shoulders back, and tucks your abs and your glutes in tight when you walk. Just maintaining good posture alone will lead to a healthier body, and keep you pain free as you get older.
8. Mix up your exercise routines in order to keep your work outs effective. The body becomes more efficient at accomplishing the same movements, and so eventually will no longer challenge you or burn as many calories. So mix it up, run one day, swim another, and spin another. This will ensure that your heart rate in consistently challenged and keep you burning a maximum amount of calories.
9. If you make an unhealthy choice, don’t beat yourself up. Just get back up on the treadmill and start to jog, run, spring or swim again. Guilt is a useless emotion, and will only make it harder to make a healthier choice the next time.
10. Try to eat most of your food by 7 pm. Not only will this improve the quality of your sleep, which is an important component of fitness, but you will burn the calories that you consume before going to bed.
Image Credit: presidentpolls2008.com
In a world obsessed with fitness trends and fad diets, fitness expert Mary Ann Browning stands out with her decidedly simple approach to health and wellness: eat a balanced diet, and work hard. Browning describes these basic principles in such a straightforward manner that instead of rolling your eyes— or throwing a temper tantrum— you can’t help but trust that by following her advice, success is inevitable. Boasting an impressive, intensely loyal roster of clients (celebrities! Fortune 500 CEOs!), the rapid expansion of Browning’s brand speaks to the success of her methods — there are four Brownings Fitness locations throughout Manhattan alone, as well as nine across the country within boutique hotels operated by the Morgans Hotel Group.
A former principal with the South African Ballet Theatre, Browning emphasizes the importance of positivity in her dealings with customers. She credits a childhood dance instructor— who “planted the seed” that success as a dancer was more about hard work than innate talent— with her current emphasis on providing clients with cheerleaders of their own. (With this in mind, Brownings Fitness doesn’t offer traditional gym memberships, only private sessions with personal trainers.) Don’t mistake this caring for coddling, though— Browning makes no apologies about the fact that changing one’s body requires effort, and in particular, strength training (something many women mistakenly avoid, afraid it will make them less svelte and more “Schwarzenegger.”) “By building muscle all over and in neglected areas”— the upper body, in the case of many women— “you burn more fat overall” says Browning.
Eat well, exercise hard and consistently; the strategy is a simple one, but, if done correctly, nearly foolproof. Offering up her standard—though consistently refreshing— brand of realistic optimism, Mary Ann Browning sums up her philosophy in nine simple words: “If you want to change your life, you can” she states, quite matter-of-factly. No eye rolls on our end.
By Beth Anne Macaluso & Caitlin O’Malley _________________________________________