WASHINGTON -- It's just about time to shed the extra winter layers and jump into spring and summer clothing.
If your body needs a little jump-start to get fit for the seasons ahead, personal trainer Josef Brandenburg has tips on how to quickly and effectively get in shape.
First, he says to start by eliminating refined carbohydrates (white bread, snack foods, pasta, etc.) from your diet.
"They're empty calories, they make people hungry, they're the things you want to cut out," says Brandenburg, who is the owner, manager and program design specialist at The Body You Want Fitness Solutions in Georgetown.
Instead, he says to get creative with vegetables to satisfy common carbohydrate foods.
Brandenburg says cauliflower is a great substitute for most starchy foods. Instead of eating mashed potatoes, boil cauliflower, mash it and add some herbs and seasonings for a satisfying new take on a traditionally unhealthy classic.
In place of pasta, thinly slice ribbons of zucchini or squash using a knife or a vegetable peeler.
"Boil that like you would pasta and then put your sauce, your shrimp or whatever you want on top of it, and that makes a really satisfying meal," Brandenburg says.
When it comes to exercise, Brandenburg says safety is very important, especially if you took off a few months over the winter. He says to ease back into fitness and never stop listening to your body.
"You don't want to sideline yourself for the rest of the season by trying to push too hard, too fast if you've been off all fall or all winter."
If a specific exercise hurts or causes an unpleasant sensation, ask a professional to show you the correct way to perform the exercise. If it still continues to bother you, it's time to move on and try something in place of the stressful routine.
Brandenburg says you will achieve the greatest fitness results in the least amount of time with resistance and interval training. And best of all, you don't necessarily need a gym membership or access to machinery to do this type of training.
"The things you can do with minimal equipment are generally the things that are most effective," he says.
That's because typical gym machines only target small areas of the body. For example, a leg machine at the gym might target just the thighs or calves. But doing squats, especially while using free weights, gives the whole body a workout.
As the weather gets warmer, take your routine outside to shake things up.
For those who are just getting back into fitness, Brandenburg warns against jumping right into long-distance outdoor running, which is hard on the body.
Instead, he suggests something like ultimate Frisbee for exercise. Brandenburg says Frisbee is a great game for interval training, since there is so much stop-and-go running.
Most importantly, Brandenburg says to start small, make a commitment and keep going.
"Long-term results are all about consistency. You want to start with a commitment that you know you can actually keep. If you are consistent with three days of exercise a week, you are going to get much better results than if you are doing six days a week but are spotty, here and there."
Editor's Note: Josef Brandenburg is a D.C.area fitness expert with 14 years of experience and co-author of the international best-selling book "Results Fitness." In 2004, he started The Body You Want personal training program, which specializes in helping you get the body you want in the available time you have. You can also check out his blog, follow him on Twitter, or check out his fitness videos on YouTube.
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