There's a lot to love about the arrival of Spring - the blooming fleurs, the balmy temps, leaving work when it's still light outside, a new season wardrobe - but there is one factor that leaves us sweaty palmed once the temps start to rise...the body reveal. Sliding on a pair of summery denim shorts will showcase exactly how many times a piping hot bowl of golden French fries on the couch happened versus a visit to the gym during the cold, dark months.
But don't worry, we've got you covered. Veronika Larisova, our fave marathon-running head exercise physiologist of athletic gym Agoga, takes no prisoners when it comes to detoxing your body back to bikini revealing levels even a Victoria's Secret model would be proud of. Here, she shares her top Spring detox fitness and health tips to bring your body back from the comfort-food, no gym, covered up brink.
What's your one key workout tip to get your body back in the Spring skin reveal zone?
Warm weather is more motivating and allows for more training variety, especially outdoors. Go kayaking, swimming, cycling, sprint on sand and generally mix it up, for example if your cardio is usually running, try boxing or swimming. The change in stimulus and intensity will challenge your body and you will see results quicker than if you stick to the same winter routine.
Try this: start with a Tabata (high intensity interval training) sand session and include the following exercises: sprints, jump lunges, burpees, squat jumps and other metabolically demanding exercises to increase your fat burning, then jump in the water for a swim. You can even do one Tabata set followed by short swim 'sprint' then back to Tabata. Finish the session with a jog and stretch. Or, do kayak intervals paired up with sprints.
Be creative. And don't forget to do some strength training each week.
Is it better to eat pre or post workout to maximise training benefits?
My best nutrition tip for getting lean quickly is doing your cardio training on an empty stomach - so first thing in the morning is best - then wait 30-60 minutes before having breakfast. When you do your strength training, have something to eat before the session (banana is my number one) and make sure you get some protein within 30 minutes post-workout.
What in-season foods should we eat pre and post workout?
Generally, you should have some carbohydrates before strength training and protein straight after. Cardio exercise is best done at a fasted (empty stomach) state if you can handle the hunger pangs.
Before strength training you could have a banana or any piece of fruit, yoghurt with berries, a smoothie, oats or porridge. A protein shake within 30 minutes post-strength training will get the required amino acids to your muscles quickly. After that you should have a proper fresh meal within two hours, think: lots of different veggies with some carbs (quinoa, sweet potato etc), good fats and 80-100g of meat/fish/poultry or eggs. Legumes, tempeh or other meat alternative if you are veggo.
For increased fat burning, it's great to wait 60 minutes before eating after your cardio session. Your first meal should be a healthy balanced meal with some protein, carbs and small amount of healthy fats (quarter avocado, one tablespoon nuts or seeds or fatty fish) with lots of seasonal vegetables. Variety is the key when it comes to veggies to get all the vitamins and minerals you need for your metabolism to function optimally. And drink lots of water.
What should we change in our diets for optimal Spring detox?
Cutting out any junk food will make a big difference. Junk food is energy dense and nutrient poor so eating pizza, doughnuts, ice cream etc., you're getting too many calories and not enough nutrients resulting in fat gain. Switch junk for foods that are low in energy and high in nutrients such as vegetables. Cutting out junk/processed foods and eating fresh good quality foods in recommended amounts will shift your fat stores pretty quickly.
Meal plan: every meal should contain lots of vegetables plus 80-100 grams of lean meat/poultry/fish/eggs. Make sure you have good quality carbohydrates during the day (e.g. sweet potato, quinoa, oats, beans), but leave them out at dinner and have lots of greens instead.
Also note that too many 'good fats' can lead to weight gain. If you're office-bound all day you won't need more than one small handful of nuts or a quarter of an avocado per day. Portion control is a very important part of losing fat. Watch out for condiments and sauces as they often contain lots of fats and/or sugar. Drink lots of water and stay away from alcohol.
What's one habit we should ditch to reach our body goals?
Social life is always the main issue. Opulent dinners involving alcoholic drinks can ruin the week's weightloss efforts. If you look and feel the way you like, it's totally fine to go out and have a naughty dinner but it might not work when you are trying to lose weight. The inflammation that follows a big eating and drinking night can last for up to six days. I always insist my clients cut out alcohol and junk food completely for at least a month and the results just speak for themselves, which is the best motivation. The fact that it's only for a limited time also helps mentally.
We're going to be showing skin come Spring, how can we banish the cellulite situation?
Cellulite is fat. That's why miraculous creams and treatments don't really work. Healthy nutrition, hydration and regular physical activity are the best for cellulite prevention.
Top tips to keep cellulite away: Avoid significant weight gain most of all; keep hydrated ALWAYS; keep moving every day, all year around; avoid trans fats; avoid processed food; eat a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits.
And for the ultimate Spring detox for body and mind, Veronika says, "The only way to look and feel your best is to stop comparing yourself to others and focus on being the best you can be by adopting a healthy lifestyle." Amen to that.