This time of year, we’re bombarded with headlines telling us how to get ‘bikini ready’. From fad diets like the baby food or the cabbage soup diet, to intensive exercise regimes like Tabata and killer HIIT sessions, the pressure to look ‘perfect’ intensifies as summer approaches.

Photo: PA

Photo: PA

But the reality is, according to wellness influencer, Cat Meffan “It’s not about extreme dieting to look like a Victoria Secret model or doing the ’60 day squat challenge’ so you can get Kim K’s bum, because that’s not your body! Every single body is different and unique, so we all need to find our own kind of good, with confidence and strength being the top ‘exercises’ to embrace this summer.”

Here registered dietitian, Hala El-Shafie, and Cat Meffan share the ultimate guide to nourish the mind and body this summer so you truly feel and look your best – not a ‘diet plan’ in sight.

Habit stacking

If you are wanting to make a few healthy lifestyle changes around this time of year, Hala and Cat both agree that the secret is keeping things simple.

Cat says: “Small changes means you're more likely to stick with your new routine, as it'll be more true to who you are. Just by adding in one new form of exercise each week – like trying a new piece of equipment in the gym or going to a new class. Or you can simplify the snacks you're eating - like opting for natural, wholesome snacks you can feel good about like a handful of almonds, you can feel positive shifts in your routine.”

Hala adds: “It’s all about making simple sustainable changes and staying away from anything that makes you and your body feel bad.”

You do you: Say no to fads

It’s all about balance - diets do not work. Well, at least not in the long term.” says Hala.

If that wasn’t depressing enough, the statistics tell us that in over 97% of cases where weight loss occurs - the weight will soon pile back on (and then some). “Don’t fall for the latest celeb diets that seem to work ‘miracles’ to help you ‘trim up’ to go poolside. Instead work with what you've got and find your kind of good. We are all individuals, so you need to find out what works best for you”.

Cat adds: “First and foremost, you are in control of the goals you set and the outcome. Practicing mindfulness can help get your mindset in a healthier place and keep your mind at ease, especially as the pressure of ‘bikini season’ hits. I love to meditate with mantras and positive affirmations, so one you could try is closing your eyes or taking a soft gaze ahead and repeating to yourself "I am enough"... because believe it or not, you are.”

Fuel your body with things to feel good about

This time of year, we’re constantly told to cut down but restricting ourselves just isn’t healthy. Instead of inducing food guilt Hala recommends: “Try to introduce foods that are packed with nutrients, so you can feel healthier, happier and more energised. Swapping out processed foods for natural, nutrient-rich foods is a simple way to keep you feeling good and keep you fuller for longer.

“For example, a handful of almonds (about 23 almonds) delivers fibre, natural plant protein and healthy fats as well as a high source of magnesium, which contributes to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue. Magnesium has also long been associated with mood-boosting properties, so this natural supplement can help you feel good too!”

Cat adds: “I'm a big believer in movement as medicine and often I just put on a song that I love and move. It doesn't matter if you're a dancer, if you're totally out of time or if you feel silly. It's all about just letting go and being present in that moment.”

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