Want to stay fit, healthy and motivated this summer?
Fitness guru Lucy Mecklenburgh offers her top tips
The reality star-turned-fitness guru talks keeping up with her regime during beach and barbecue season.
When the warm weather rolls around, we all know the lure of the pub garden, weekend barbecues and rooftop cocktails can mess with your good intentions to make it to your regular workout classes. Sure, you could hit the treadmill for an hour-long sweat session - or you could soak up the rays in the garden with an Aperol Spritz instead. If this sounds like a familiar scenario, it's often reassuring to know that even the fittest folk on Instagram can sometimes struggle to stay on track.
Anyone who follows Lucy Mecklenburgh on the social media platform will know that she never looks anything less than perfectly toned - but she admits that it's tougher to stick to your gym goals when it's warm and sunny outside.
The TV star made a name for herself on ITV reality show The Only Way Is Essex but has since struck out with her own online fitness platform, Results With Lucy (resultswithlucy.com), which provides workouts and recipe plans to help women who are looking to lose weight and improve their fitness.
With over one million followers on Instagram, many of her fans look to Mecklenburgh for tips and tricks for staying healthy and getting the most out of their workouts. So, how does she make room for fitness and summer fun?
Here, Mecklenburgh, 27, gives us the inside track on how she keeps the balance during holiday season...
1. Be mindful of the calories in your drinks
Sugar-sweetened drinks can often be a forgotten source of calories in your diet, and Mecklenburgh says that nixing them is one of the easiest ways to see a change. "Being more conscious of what you are drinking and removing empty calories can make a huge difference and it only requires small changes," says Mecklenburgh. "For example, if you drink a few cups of tea a day, why not swap a breakfast tea with milk to a herbal tea or even a homemade ice tea?" You could also swap squash drinks for homemade fruit flavoured water, or just water."
If you fancy having an alcoholic beverage (and we always advise drinking in moderation, of course), your choice of tipple can make all of the difference too.
Mecklenburgh says that there's "nothing wrong" with a rooftop cocktail now that the evenings are longer and warmer, but it's worth keeping in mind that they're often sugar-loaded. She suggests enjoying one cocktail when you arrive, and then switching to gin and tonic or vodka, soda and lime afterwards.
2. Make your own
Staying healthy doesn't mean you should have to forgo popular picnic foods, or feel guilty about eating them either. "Learn to make some of your summer favourite treats at home, rather than buying them," says Mecklenburgh. "That way you know exactly what goes into the food you are eating."
Instead of buying ice lollies containing artificial colours and sugar, for example, she suggests finding a delicious recipe for fresh fruit ice lollies that will be just as refreshing and tasty. Embrace a healthier BBQ and swap shop-bought coleslaw and potato salad, which is often high in fat, to a healthier, homemade version," she adds.
3. Move your workouts outdoors
If you don't like to spend beautiful sunny days hidden away in the gym, it doesn't mean you should exercise less over summer.
Mecklenburgh says: "Warmer weather means that popping out for a walk is much more appealing. Walking is a really effective form of exercise and it's something you can do with friends and family. Swap shorter trips you take in the car or on the train with walking," she suggests. "You could walk or even cycle to work. I also follow the rule of taking the stairs instead of the lift when I can."
4. Get your pals involved
"I find it's much easier to work out and stay motivated if I have a training buddy," admits Mecklenburgh. "It's a good idea to plan your workouts with your buddy, and together you can help each other stick to them." Mecklenburgh says that if your friend or colleague expects that you are going to do a workout on a Monday evening, it makes it much harder to ditch exercise for the sofa. "You can share workouts, photos, recipes and tips with each other to keep support and motivation high."
5. Plan workouts at home too
Picnics, sunny happy hours, trips to the beach - with so many fun social events going on, it can be harder to find time for getting to that HIIT class. But here's the great thing: You can still stay in shape with a short living room session, while the kids are getting ready for school in the morning or before heading out to work.
"Working out at home is a great time and money-saver and it can be just as effective as working out in a gym," says Mecklenburgh. It all comes down to planning. If you're time-poor, look at your week in advance and figure out where you will realistically be able to squeeze in a 20-30 minute at-home session. You can find hundreds of workouts online. On Results with Lucy, for instance, we have thousands of pre-filmed workouts you can follow. Body weight exercises are great but if you want to add a separate weight, you can find a set of cheap dumbbells or kettle bells online too."
6. Have a positive mindset
The power of positive thinking is a popular concept, and although it sounds like a cliche, studies have found that it can really help to boost confidence and improve your mood, and ultimately keep you motivated.
"It's a sad truth, but lots of us will start our day thinking negative things about ourselves," says Mecklenburgh. “We tend to focus on negatives, especially when it comes to how we look and our perception of how successful we are. It may feel strange at first, and it will take some practice, but try and say a few positive affirmations to yourself when you wake up in the morning," she adds.
She suggests saying three things you like about yourself each day, for example: 'My skin looks great', 'I love this new top I'm wearing', 'I'm going to be amazing in my meeting today'. Mecklenburgh says: "I believe doing this really builds your confidence, opens you up to new opportunities, and makes life much more enjoyable."
Lucy Mecklenburgh is co-founder of online fitness, health and nutrition platform, Results with Lucy. For more information, visit resultswithlucy.com