Summer is approaching and everyone is scrambling to get into the gym and work off that weight that we were so happy to gain during the holiday season. Before reading this, all of you should know that you are beautiful just the way you are and that getting into shape should be more about your mental health than your physical appearance. Working out and eating right has so many more benefits than losing weight. It makes it easier to get up in the morning (after you start to eat better.)

It improves your mood (again, after you go through the sugar withdrawals.) Working out even lowers your chances of getting many different kinds of illnesses/diseases. With that being said, I'm just going to jump right into workouts and diets that I believe work best.

1. At home workout 

Beforehand message: If you go to somewhere like Dick's Sporting Goods and buy a "band," that can broaden the kind of workouts you do at home. It also wouldn't hurt to purchase a pair of dumbbells.

Jumping jacks: 2 sets, 45 seconds

Lunges: 5 sets of 15

Body weight squats: 5 sets of 10

Donkey Kicks: 3 sets of 15

Ab Circuit: You are going to run an Ab circuit of 3 sets for each ab workout. Once you complete one workout (one set,) you move down the list to the next thing. Once you get all the way down to the bottom of the list, you start at the beginning of the circuit again and complete it two more times. Example: one set of planks, one set of left planks, one set of right planks, one set of v ups, etc. Then you start all over at the top again until you do each workout 3 times throughout the circuit. Don't forget to rest for about 45 seconds in between the start of each circuit.

Planks: 3 sets, one minute

Left side plank: 3 sets, one minute

Right side plank: 3 sets, one minute

V ups: 3 sets of 30

Russian twists: 3 sets of 30

End of circuit

Push-ups: 3 sets of 15 (This may be difficult at first. Go at your own pace and within a few weeks you will be able to complete 3 full sets of 15.)

Dumbbell lateral raise: 3 sets of 15

Dumbbell bicep curl: 3 sets of 15

Dumbell overhead press: 3 sets of 15

Personally, I like to end workouts with running. Especially at home workouts. If you care for running, going for a one-mile run would tie together your entire workout.

2. Gym Workout 

Lightweight and higher rep's = Toning muscle

Heavier weight and lower rep's = Bulking/ gaining muscle

(The workout written below is meant more for toning)

Monday: Chest and abs

Warm up: Run half of a mile

Dumbbell bench press: 3 sets of 15

Dumbbell flies: 3 sets of 15

Middle cable flies: 3 sets of 15

Ab Circuit: Please read ab circuit explanation in #1

Planks: 3 sets of one minute

Left side plank: 3 sets of one minute

Right side plank:3 sets of one minute

V-ups: 3 sets of 15

Flat bench lying leg raise OR Bosu ball leg lifts: 3 sets of 15

Tuesday: Legs/abs

I prefer more muscular legs (a bigger butt) with some tone. Therefore, the leg workout written below needs to be done with heavier weights. If you do this workout one week, the next week change it to 3 sets and 15 reps with a lower weight. It's given me a good balance and doesn't make my legs look too muscular.

Warm up: Run half of a mile or a full mile and stretch your legs

Barbell full squat: 4 sets of 10-12

Leg press: 4 sets of 10-12

Donkey Kicks (You can add weight by using the cable machine. Find the hook up that fits over your shoe): 4 sets of 10-12

Seated leg curl: 4 sets of 10-12

Leg extensions: 4 sets of 10-12

Standing calve raises: 4 sets of 10-12

Step-ups with dumbbells: 4 sets of 10-12

Ab Circuit: Please read ab circuit explanation in list item one

Planks: 3 sets of one minute

Left side plank: 3 sets of one minute

Right side plank:3 sets of one minute

V-ups: 3 sets of 15

Flat bench lying leg raise OR Bosu ball leg lifts: 3 sets of 15

Wednesday: Back/shoulders

Warm up: Run half of a mile

Pull Ups: 5, 3, 3, 2, 1 (do 5 pull-ups, take a break, do 3 pull-ups, take a break, etc. If you cannot do a pull-up, use a leg band and wrap it around the bar that you are using to do pull-ups. Then put your feet in the part that is hanging down. It'll make the pull-ups easier to do.)

Straight arm pulldown: 3 sets of 15

Shoulder shrugs: 3 sets of 15

V-bar pulldown: 3 sets of 15

Bent over row with dumbells (be sure to use dumbbells): 3 sets of 15

Dumbbell press: 3 sets of 15

Sidearm raise with dumbbells: 3 sets of 15

Blowout: Use a plate (25,15,10, whatever you're comfortable with) and start at your waist then lift upward with your arms straight out. Lift the plate slightly above eye-level. Do this until failure.

Thursday: Bi's and tri's

Preacher curl: 4 sets of 15

Decline bar tri-extension: 3 sets of 15

Hammer curls: 3 sets of 15

Barbell curl: 3 sets of 15

Dips: 3 sets of 10

Friday: Cardio and Abs

Warmup: Run 1-2 miles

Punching bag: 3, 5-minute intervals (be sure to wrap your hands or use gloves)

Stair Master: 15 minutes

Ab Circuit: Please read ab circuit explanation in #1

Planks: 3 sets of one minute

Left side plank: 3 sets of one minute

Right side plank: 3 sets of one minute

V-ups: 3 sets of 15

Flat bench lying leg raise OR Bosu ball leg lifts: 3 sets of 15

Russian twists: 3 sets of 20

Saturday:

On Saturday's I like to hit any muscle I feel like I didn't work out hard enough during the week. I also like to use Saturday's to try out new workouts. From Google to YouTube you can find any kind of nifty or new workout that you could ever imagine. Using those two tools can help you broaden your knowledge of working out and eating healthy.

Sunday: REST DAY

3. Dieting 

There are hundreds of different diets out there. From things as strict as Keto to just cutting out bread for a few weeks. My preferred diet is a little different, but it has worked for multiple people.

It basically revolves around these few things. Salad, rice, chicken, almonds/nuts, smoothies, and juices. If you are into meal prep, or are just trying to lose weight for summer, I would recommend basing your diet around the following. Pay close attention to the tips.

Tip: Drink as much water as you can throughout the day. It will help you digest your food and keep you hydrated.

For breakfast/brunch:

- Drink a large glass of water

Tip: Pairing your water with lemons, berries, ginger, coconut, or tea like green tea, peppermint tea, ginger tea, etc has multiple benefits in itself.

- Eat an apple (apples are filling)

OR

- Drink a large glass of water

- Make a smoothie bowl

Tip: You can find multiple smoothie bowl recipes online. One of my favorites is the Green Smoothie Bowl:

The Green Smoothie Bowl has frozen banana, frozen spinach, frozen pineapple, coconut water, kiwis, hempseed, salt, fresh ginger, raw honey, and toppings like kiwi and granola. You can make a smoothie bowl out of any of your favorite frozen fruits and vegetables (remember you will need a blender of some sort to make the smoothie bowls.)

For Lunch/dinner:

Maceys Salad:

You will need...

- Chicken breast

- Spinach

- Rosemary

- Lemons

- Feta Cheese

- Low-fat raspberry vinegarette

- 2/3 chopped up strawberries

- Almonds or walnuts

- Salt and pepper

The preparation process is pretty easy. Take the chicken breasts and put them in a baking dish (coat the dish in olive oil beforehand.) Add salt, pepper, lemon (cut up, or lemon juice) and put full pieces of rosemary on top. Bake the chicken until it is fully cooked.

Next, cut the chicken breast up into cubes and add it into a bowl with the spinach, feta cheese, strawberries, nuts, and strawberry vinegarette.

Tip: If you are meal prepping, keep the spinach, cheese, strawberries, dressing, and nuts separated from the chicken until the day of use.

Option two for lunch/dinner:

- Lemon and rosemary chicken

- Brown rice

- Veggie of your choice (steamed broccoli, bell peppers, carrots, etc.)

Notice: During this diet, you will inevitably be hungry. You will go through sugar withdrawals, and you will seemingly be tired for the first couple of days. Good things to snack on in between breakfast/brunch/dinner are...

- Carrots

- Apples

- Almonds

- Oats

- Smoothies

- Almost any other fruit or veggie that you can think of. As long as you aren't binge eating strawberries and pineapple, then it will suffice.

Remember that this diet is not a long term diet. This diet is used to drop quick pounds and get over the sugar addiction that we all have. It will get boring after a week or so, and you will be craving certain things. You can also try lettuce wraps with shrimp or chicken or fish paired with a vegetable.

Stay away from greasy and sugary foods. Cut out candy and pop, drink water and homemade tea.

There are hundreds of other workouts you can do as well as other diets, but these are a few of my favorites. Before you commit to something like this, especially the diet, you need to know that it will be very difficult at first. You also need to know that you are perfect in your own skin and that the three bullet points above don't define you. If you are eating better and working hard to get into shape you need to do it for not only your physical health but your mental health as well. Cutting down on sugar and eating healthy clears up your mind and increases your mood after you get past the withdrawal point.

You can do this!