How to Get a Great Body In Time For Summer

We all know how difficult dropping those last few pounds and looking fabulous can be. But with summer around the corner, we're all feeling the pressure to look our best when those bathing suits come out of the closet again. This article will help you make those crucial adjustments to get there.

There are two crucial ingredients to toning up and sculpting a great body: diet and exercise. Most people realize this, and of course this article will give advice on these key parts of getting a great body, but it will also cover those things that can make a huge difference to your exercise plan that often aren't talked about: things like tips on motivation, conquering your cravings and measuring your progress the right way (no obsessing over scales ladies!).

But first things first: diet and exercise. The changes you'll want to make to your diet are these: firstly, look to restrict your caloric intake to around 1,700 net calories per day (by net, I mean calories consumed versus calories burned: the more you work out, the more you can effectively eat). This is a relatively easy plan to stick to as it's not so restrictive that you'll want to quit after the first few days, and it should lead to a 6 pound loss in about a month.

Look to decrease your carb intake: most of us eat more carbs than we actually need, and they can cause bloating and unnecessary weight, especially on the tummy. When you do eat carbs, make sure you only eat complex carbs, not simple ones (that means whole wheat/whole grain bread and pasta, no white bread or pasta). At the same time, increase the amount of lean protein you eat: the extra protein will help to build lean muscle – just what you want to show off in your bikini! As a general guideline, shoot for a 60:40 ratio of proteins to carbs. Also, try to eat as many whole, unprocessed foods as possible, drink plenty of water (and little of anything else, especially alcohol, and no soda) and avoid processed sugar (found in candy and other unhealthy processed 'junk' foods).

To get the best body possible, you'll need to combine cardiovascular exercise (like running or biking: anything that gets your heart rate up over 160 beats per minute is ideal) to burn calories and fat, and strength exercises for all over toning and tightening. Try to find forms of exercise that you enjoy doing: that way you'll be more likely to stick with your plan. I like to use the elliptical machine for my cardio, and pilates and light weight training (with a 10 pound medicine ball) for my strength workouts. For optimum results, look to get in 30 minutes of cardio exercise three times a week, and around an hour of strength training one to two times a week.

All this will lead to a great body by the summer months – as long as you can stick to it that is. And this is the hardest part of the equation for many of us. To stay motivated, choose forms of cardio and strength exercise that you enjoy, enlist a friend or two as a training partner(s) (and turn your hot-body goals into a friendly competition), and use music: it's a great tool for getting the most out of your workouts (choose something with a fast beat: it's scientifically proven that you'll work harder and burn more calories without even realizing it).

As for those dastardly cravings: if you can, try to ignore them. The first week or two are the hardest, but it's like becoming/staying sober: it gets easier. A great tip for ignoring these cravings effectively is to come up with some kind of image or symbol that represents to you what you want to achieve at the end of all this: it could be you, looking hot and surrounded by attractive guys, or you in that new bikini you've had your eye on (looking fabulous, of course). Then conjure up that image whenever you're trying to stare down that candy bar.

If you absolutely have to have your fix of chocolate, or whatever it is that you're craving, don't deprive yourself: that'll only lead to you feeling frustrated and cheated with your plan and make you more likely to abandon it all together. Instead, go ahead and have a little bit of what you're craving, but don't go mad. If you must have some chocolate, have half a bar of dark chocolate (less sugar, calories and fat), or if you have a salty craving, treat yourself to a few chips out of the bag, then put it back in the cupboard. Being able to have a little of what you're craving will make you more likely to stick to your plan, without completely derailing.

Follow all these tips, and you'll be well on your way to a hot body. Enjoy the new you!