We all love to romanticize the summer and that summer body. Warm weather, skimpier clothing, and the prospect of wearing a bathing suit are often enough motivation to help get you into shape for the summer. But now that summer is coming to a close, a lot of us have anxieties around how to keep this going or just assume it’s all over.
While there may be barriers holding you back from keeping that summer snatchededness, there are ways to work around them. It may be the end of summer, but that doesn’t have to mean the end of your best self or your best body.
I spoke to fitness personality/model/coach Judine Saint Gerard to come up with a game plan to keep you excited to maintain the body you worked so hard for!
Judine is a New York-based professional fitness athlete and model. She is in the process of getting her masters in Dietetics and Nutrition at New York University and in her spare time you can find her dancing through her intense weight training, dropping life gems, and crushing Sweetgreen salads on her Instagram stories. This budding social media fitness personality is also a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach.
You’ve worked with a lot of different people throughout your fitness career. Based on that, what do you think are the most common barriers they face to staying fit throughout the year?
I think the most obvious difficulties are based on the changes in weather. Whether you live in a place that snows or not, the winter time is bound to bring lower temperatures, grey clouds and rain, and with that comes a reluctance to leave your house to hit the gym or go for a run. When it’s cold outside, it’s tougher to wrap your head around eating a salad and you’re likely craving comfort foods instead.
What do you think is the first step to overcoming these challenges?
I think the first step is changing your mindset. Not operating from a place of lack, and instead removing that pressure of ‘losing’ your summer body. Instead of beating yourself up for not going as hard at the gym as you did during the summer, try to focus on keeping it up, on making this ‘summer body’ your ‘everyday’ body.
It’s also a lot about accepting your body where it is, based on where you are now, and asking yourself what you can do, realistically, to maintain it to some degree. Rather than focusing on the negatives and thinking “this isn’t the exact summer body I had, so let me throw all this work away”, focus on the compromises you can make with yourself mentally. The goal is to redefine body image a little bit and accept a slightly different look in the winter, while still honoring your body. “Okay, so I can’t keep the exact same summer body I have, so maybe that’ll mean I’ll get a little thicker in some parts of my body”. But you can keep your body at a close enough place so that when you want that extra peak condition, you can get there faster or more easily.
It’s important to keep it real with yourself. Try to know yourself well enough to determine what your limits are, which aspects you can compromise and which ones you can’t. Some of these barriers you won’t be able to cross, like trekking to the gym first thing in the morning when it’s snowing outside. But you can identify which ones you are able to do something about, like adjusting the foods you eat or how much time you can set aside to squeeze in a few at-home workouts.
Alright, so once we’ve wrapped our heads around that mindset, what are some practical ways to work around these barriers and maintain our shape to some degree?
If you find that it’s especially difficult to get out of bed and motivate yourself to go to the gym or go for a run, then you can try a variety of different things: at-home workouts, buddy systems, working with a trainer, or taking classes. If your biggest challenge is finding ways to eating a well-balanced, healthy diet because you’re craving warm, comforting food, then finding replacements for these cravings is the key.
Let’s start with the exercise part of the equation. What are some ways you keep up your fitness plan when the weather is holding you back from hitting the gym or going for a jog outdoors?
When you hit roadblocks like weather and not being motivated to be in a gym setting, the easiest thing to do is to keep your workout short and sweet but intense. The simplest way to do that is with HIIT (high intensity interval training); HIIT will ensure that you are keeping your heart rate up (hashtag cardio) while also building or at least preserving lean muscle. There are tons of different ways you can organize your workout to make it HIIT style.
How to build a 15-30 minute HIIT style workout:
Start with a circuit of your choice, choose about 4-5 exercises. Decide on a work/rest interval (i.e. 45 seconds work, 15 seconds rest). Do about 3-5 rounds of the circuit, leave 30 sec – 1 min rest between rounds.
Here’s a sample HIIT workout to try:
3-4 rounds, perform each exercise for 45 seconds/15 seconds rest, 30-60sec between rounds.
1) 2 pike jumps + 10 mountain climbers (1 rep)
Form tips: be sure to really engage your pelvic floor (lower abs) on the pike jumps. Same thing with the mountain climbers, be sure your back is flat–no hip dip!
2) 6 squat jump taps + 5 squatted side-walks
Target: Legs (Quads), glutes
Form tips: stay low, keep your butt back, and weight in your heels. On the side-walks, be sure the steps are small and quick to feel max burn in your glutes!
3) 4 crab walks + 5 reverse table top hip thrust
Target: Legs (Hamstrings), glutes, triceps
Form tips: Be sure to get full extension when you come up into the table top position, squeeze your bum and your abs and hold for a sec at the top.
4) Push-up + around the world limbs**
**Modified: 5 knee push-ups, come up to plank and around the world limbs
Target: Core, chest, shoulders, glutes
4a – do 1 push up, then one arm up, another push up, one leg up, another push-up, other arm up, another push up, other leg up. Keep your back flat throughout the push-up movement, keep core tight when bringing limbs up.
4b – perform 5 knee push-ups, then come up to a plank position, and “go around the world” bringing each limb up (arm, leg, arm, leg). Repeat. Keep core tight when bringing limbs up.
Another thing I’ve found, personally, is the benefit of investing in a mini home gym.
I’ve found Amazon to be a great place when looking for relatively inexpensive and versatile workout equipment. Here’s my list of must-haves to spice up your at-home workouts:
- Gymboss Timer (free app for your phone, perfect for setting intervals for your HIIT workouts)
- 2 sets of dumbbells (one lighter, one heavier–this is relative, so will vary)
- 1 kettle-bell (between 25-40lbs)
- Weighted vest (8-12lbs)
- Medicine ball (8-12lbs)
The last thing I want to eat in the winter is a salad. How can I keep a healthy diet and control my cravings?
Again, I think your mindset coming into the idea of your diet is crucial. Going back to my earlier point of focusing on the positives rather than the negatives, let’s look at a holiday party setting. You know there’s a holiday party coming up at the end of the week, which will involve eating comfort foods or sweets. Rather than beating yourself up after the meal and feeling guilty for eating that cookie, focus on what you eat that week leading up to the party. If you keep to your healthy regimen for a week, then you’ll feel a lot better after indulging in that holiday party meal!
Another option is to replace raw vegetables that you’d find in a salad, with grilled vegetables instead. But here’s a recipe I like to make in the winter time:
Crock Pot Black Bean Lentil Quinoa Chili
This is a satisfying cold weather cozy option to replace your summer salad bowls. With the right amount of flavorings, this healthy and delicious chili can easily be made vegetarian or vegan if you choose your toppings wisely.
- Red Onion – 1/2, chopped.
- Garlic Cloves – 2, minced.
- Red Bell Pepper – 1, chopped.
- Baby Carrots – 1 cup, sliced.
- Tomatoes – 2 cups, chopped.
- Black Beans – 1 (15oz) can, rinsed and drained.
- Brown Lentils – 1 cup, dry.
- Quinoa – ½ cup, uncooked.
- Corn – 1 cup, frozen.
- Vegetable Broth – 3 cups.
- Coriander – 1 tbsp.
- Cumin – 1 tbsp.
- Oregano – 1 tbsp.
- Chilli Powder – 2 tbsp.
- Tomato Paste – 1/2 tbsp.
- Olive Oil – 1 tbsp.
- Ground beef (optional) – 1lb.
- In a large pot or Dutch Oven, heat oil over medium heat. Sautée onion, garlic, red bell pepper, carrots, coriander and cumin for 3-5 minutes
- Stir in tomato paste, add chopped tomatoes, ground beef, oregano and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the cooked mixture into your Crock-Pot
- Top with all remaining ingredients and give it all a good stir
- Cover and cook on high for 4.5 hours or low for 8 hours
Any final words of wisdom?
Ultimately you want to look at what you’re doing in the summer, identify what you can continue doing easily, identify the tough spots, and find the workarounds for those. I want you to see my own very raw process and insights and use that to explore and discover what your version of fit looks like — the most sustainable one. The one you never ‘fall off’ from because that concept is being replaced with taking a break or modifying the routine when life happens. The one that allows your to enjoy life but be healthy and happy with your efforts and how you look!
Follow Judine on Instagram (@judinesaintgerard) for more health and fitness tips.