Summer Fitness: The 5 Cardinal Sins

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Spring bounces a kaleidoscope of happy colors off every pasture, city garden and everywhere else around us. With it comes spring cleaning and skin treatments, because summer is just on our doorstep! It is the time to say goodbye to the winter blues and welcome the new season with a bright, happy smile and a gorgeous beach body! Now, if you still don’t have that perfect body, there’s always time to get into good shape, but be warned: If you fall into certain traps, your beach body may have to wait until next year. Or until you stop committing these cardinal sins and start committing to your workout and diet regime… Gyms will be packed and everybody will have an opinion about dieting. Rather than tell you what to do, we are going to tell you what not to do. Make sure you avoid the following cardinal sins to step out into the new season looking all confident and sexy.




Bad Discipline

As with most things, being disciplined is half your success. Only by being disciplined will you achieve; ongoing reinforcement of things we NEED to do in order to be successful is necessary, according to Dr. Frederick Neff, sports psychologist for the NHL Boston Bruins for 21 years. He is also the founder of ProFormance, an organization that meets the needs of professional athletes and celebrities, among others. Dr. Neff is of the opinion that self-discipline leads to good habits that help us achieve our goals. We may not, initially, understand the importance of repetition in order for us to later make good decisions, but, says Dr. Neff, ‘’The importance of practicing  self-discipline cannot be underestimated.”

We all know that self-discipline involves a mind process without which we may simply become less motivated. Discipline and planning are key factors. You can’t just arrive at the gym and grab any old dumb bell that looks like an exercising tool and think your new, hot body awaits! Work according to an exercise program – the internet provides good examples if you don’t want to employ a trainer or adviser. Understand the concept of realistic, achievable goals and pursue them, understand that you may need to plan your routine around your exercise program – when and how many hours to sleep, when to hit the gym and so on.

Unrealistic Expectations

A firm bottom, beautiful legs and toned arms cannot be the result of only a few days’ training. Looking beautiful is every woman’s dream, but understand that without patience you may give up too quickly or fall back into old habits or trying ‘’bad’’ advice such as a quick, unhealthy diet.

Let’s take some advice about setting realistic expectations from Pamela Hernandez, ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and ACE Health Coach. According to Pamela, “…slow and steady wins the race.” It is totally unrealistic to think you can start on a weight loss program and think it happens overnight, as is sometimes promised by TV shows, advertisements for fat burning pills and the like. Instead, set yourself realistic goals and accept that a regular exercise regimen is the answer. Also, eat breakfast – stop starving yourself; quick fixes never deliver the desired results!



Maybe it’s also not such a bad idea to be kinder to ourselves and sometimes accept that not all of us can have the perfect body (bigger can of course be beautiful) and become the next supermodel. If you were born with imperfect genes (let’s face it, most of us were), then you certainly can’t expect to have the body that everybody would die for. Accept your limitations, stop hating your body and concentrate on what is easier to achieve. If you find leg training tough, maybe work on your mid-section some more? Concentrate on getting the best out of your gym time.

Taking Your Eye off the Goal

If you don’t stay focused mentally, as has been mentioned above, you will not achieve. Our body image is a deeply personal affair and often the cause of strong emotions and reactions – it’s managing these reactions that many otherwise very disciplined people often have trouble with. You preplan your meals and maintain your new routine for a while, but then something stops you in your tracks. You’re too disappointed to go on, you’re angry at yourself, you’re angry at the world. There is a name for this, and it interestingly comes from poker – it’s called “being on tilt” and is an inherent part of our human nature. Tilt also applies to more than exercise and poker: sports, business, personal life, they can all suffer from tilt.

But that doesn’t mean there’s no way to prevent it. Prominent poker professionals at popular gaming brand PokerStars have created a list of 5 tips to avoid tilt – and fortunately they are not exclusive to the card game. Understand how to prepare yourself, stay committed and persevere when playing poker; otherwise you set yourself up for failure.  Hard work and staying sharp will pay off but you will need will power; you can’t lose sight of what you want to achieve and you can’t let emotions get the better of you. Sheer determination and the will to be the best make true champions stand out above the rest, and that involves being mindful about the triggers that set you off, your breaking points and leave your emotional baggage in the past.



Too Much Cardio

We see them on the back roads hardly able to breathe; their knees buckle on the treadmill; they can barely put another foot forward. Yes, they are the runners. Don’t get me wrong – people who actually run because they train for a marathon or have done it for years as part of a specific training program are admirable and their efforts are certainly rewarded. Too much running/cardio activity, however, may actually ‘’eat away’’ your muscles, and that may not be what you want.  A good, sexy body does indeed have muscle. Not everybody’s ideal is Arnold Schwarzenegger, true, but a developed body showing well-toned, fine-tuned, controlled muscle mass is what we want: lean mass. A cardio workout that you enjoy is superior to an overly intense one – take a look at Cassey Ho’s video below! Even lightweight training is better than miles on the treadmill, and you also know it will be easier to follow through. However, please make sure that you seek some expert advice if you are new to weight training, as expert warn of the cons of heavy lifting.


If looking great this summer is your goal, then you have to accept certain truths: there are no shortcuts, you may have to sacrifice certain foods and treats, you may have to cut back on drinks, you may have to be much more disciplined than you are now. Think of any others? A good tip to help you stay focused is to get a training partner. Together you can motivate each other when the going gets tough, you can share in each other’s little successes and be happy for gains. Let your training partner act as your sounding board when you feel ‘’low’’ and allow yourselves a little bit of competition for better performance. The presence of a workout buddy will certainly help you commit even more.

Fad Diets

Whoever told you quick fixes are the answer, lied! Diets which emphasize quick loss seldom, if ever, bring long-lasting results: For long term weight loss, the crash diet is not effective and can actually be dangerous. You may initially lose a few pounds on the quick diet, but you will indeed, after a little while, regain the weight.  Dawn Jackson-Blatner, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, feels there are no magic pills or potions to assure weight loss. She says crazy, low-calorie diets may lead to weight loss; however, these unbalanced diets often cause dieters to give up and resume their old unhealthy lifestyles and eating habits or can even be harmful to your health.

So, if you’re intent on losing a few quick pounds for the start of summer, you may indeed succeed, but you may put your body under severe stress, which is not a good thing. A phenomenal amount of money is spent each year on dieting, yet it is probably best to assume good eating habits and stick to them so your weight does not fluctuate.  Maybe it is a good thing to remember that balance is key: Don’t deprive yourself, but keep balance in mind. Then it may not be necessary to feel you’re under pressure to look for quick weight loss advice at the beginning of summer. Of course looking great may mean having to be careful when it comes to what we eat, but we should never put our bodies under unnecessary stress. There are a number of great resources online to help you discover the best diet for your personal needs. We want to remain healthy at all times, also when we diet.


Summer is here. Look good, feel great, be healthy with a PROPER exercise programme that will make YOU the envy of all the couch potatoes. When you step onto the beach in your bikini and feel everybody’s eyes following your shape appreciatively, know you’ve done something right!







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