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An all-inclusive plan for every woman, with or without access to gym, child care and much free time!
Whilst we may dislike the analogy, we ladies can generally be divided into two categories: apples and pears. Apples tend to carry excess weight around their middle and have slim legs whilst pears have small waists and store excess fat in ‘female’ places: On bottom, thighs, boobs and upper arms. Obviously this is a massive generalisation. Genetically there are many variations within each category – such as very large or very small breasts, very tall or very short stature or small, medium and large frames.
For each of us there is also a lifestyle and diet component. We may have the genetics of a supermodel but have been overfed since babies and have grown up with very little self-discipline and zero exercise habits. On the flip side, we may have genetics completely against us, coming from an obese family with high incidence of disease but have turned our lives around with healthy eating, regular exercise and a positive outlook on life.
My point is, that wherever we are in life, whatever genetics we’ve been blessed or cursed with, we can each work to achieve our full potential; our personal best.
Today’s blog focuses on the legs. Most women I meet either want slimmer legs or more toned legs – whichever it is, the method is virtually the same.
Firstly, despite whatever you’ve ever been told, ‘toning up’ simply doesn’t exist. You either build muscle or lose it. Muscles either grow, stay the same, or shrink depending on the exercise you do. Muscle wastage generally occurs when you’re injured and stuck in a hospital bed for days or weeks and the amount of muscle you lose can be quite shocking.
If you’re a ‘cardio queen’ chances are you do enough exercise on the elliptical, treadmill or stepper to maintain your muscle tissue and enhance your cardiovascular fitness. Exercise classes will help trim and firm your arms slightly but you won’t make massive changes in your overall physique with an exercise regimen based totally around cardio.
To achieve the ‘toned’ look you’re after, with shapely legs, firm muscles, no jiggly cellulite, small defined knees and ankles you need to mix resistance/weight training with cardio and, most importantly, a clean, healthy diet with adequate food to fuel your frequent workouts.
In order to include every single reader in these top ten tips, all exercises can be done at home with little or no equipment, and all the diet tips are based on simple, local produce that is cheap and easily obtainable. Exercise can be broken down into 10 minute chunks, so there’s no excuse!!
Walk somewhere every single day. It doesn’t matter where …around your village, along the beach, round your garden, to the shops and back, a hike in the forest, or taking your children to school. The only important thing is to gradually increase the duration and the intensity (by walking up hills and stairs or power walking small sections). It doesn’t matter what your level of fitness is to start with, just grab a water bottle and get outside!
Climb the stairs. Take the stairs instead of elevators or escalators wherever possible. Use your stairs at home as a mini workout – go up and down 10 or 20 times. Wear trainers (sneakers) for better stability and grip on carpet. Find some flights of stairs outside – fire escapes, steps to beach, steps in the hills and on cliff paths, in football stadiums – wherever you find steps, use these as part of your workout. Take steps two at a time (going up only) to really work the glutes; to give you a shapely bottom and separation between the back of the thighs and the butt.
Drink lots of water! Advice on this subject varies from country to country but in general I recommend around 2 litres a day. Drink more if you’re overweight or large frame or exercising hard for 90mins or more. Try cutting all fizzy drinks and coffee for two weeks and see and feel the difference in your body. The bumpy cellulite will definitely start to fade and skin will have a smoother effect.
Cut out alcohol – at least for 2-4 weeks to notice a difference. The binge drinking in some Western cultures has got so bad it’s no wonder women look and feel awful!! Limit yourself to 2 glasses of good quality red wine per week, maximum, with no substitutions!
Cut out sugar. Refined white sugar is bad for the human body in the quantities we’re consuming it. It’s now in virtually every pre-packaged product from ready-to-microwave vegetables to flavoured crisps as well as the obvious cakes, biscuits, breads, sweets and ice creams. If you eat a 100% clean diet of fresh produce, then an occasional slice of homemade cake is a treat, a delight even, however, this constant drip-feeding of sugar is sending female hormones all over the place and resulting in ridiculously high rates of cancer and obesity and many other diseases. Not to mention, it causes unsightly pockets of fat on our upper arms, inner thighs, saddle bags, tummies, chins, ankles and knees!!
Ensure your diet is rich in fresh vegetables and lean protein sources (organic if possible).
E.g. Eggs with peppers, courgette and mushroom.
Chicken with sweet potato, broccoli and green beans.
Steak with roasted parsnips and tomatoes, kale and spinach.
Tuna with lettuce, baby spinach, sweetcorn, carrot, pepper and tomato. Grilled or baked fish with stir fried mangetout, beansprouts, green beans and red pepper.
Snack on hummus or peanut butter (sugar free) with raw celery, carrot, pepper and apple.
Don’t eat too much fruit. In the quest to reach ‘Five a Day’ many women turn to fresh fruit, dried fruit, fruit smoothies and fruit drinks. Natural fruit is best as it contains fibre, water and vitamins and minerals. However, too much fruit (or fruit on its own if you’re sugar sensitive) can cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels and ultimately increase your levels of fat storage. Stick to berries as much as possible, plus occasional apples, and use lemon or lime to flavour dishes. Whilst on a fat loss goal, keep fruit to a minimum (except berries – up to 2 portions a day) and emphasize vegetables (5-10 portions).
Take a good quality multi-vitamin and mineral supplement and use a daily dose of essential fats such as Udo’s oil (balanced between Omega 3, 6, 9) or a combination of ground pumpkin, sunflower, hemp and lin-seeds. (Keep in a sealed jam jar in the fridge)
Learn to do squats and lunges effectively. Take your time, perfect your posture. Ensure you’re pushing through your heels and squeeze your glutes (the muscles in your bottom). If you’re already a frequent exerciser, then add some weights. Try hand held dumbbells, a backpack filled with potatoes or a couple of bags of flour, children’s buckets filled with sand or even just hold your baby! Anything to increase the resistance and therefore the intensity of the exercise. Start out with one set of 15 repetitions and increase to 3-4 sets of 20-25 reps. If you’re adding heavy weights (10kg total or more) then go slowly for 10-12 reps. This will help build muscle. Vary your routine and change it up each time so your body is challenged.
Finally, get enough sleep and eat enough calories to fuel your workouts (more than 1200 and less than 2000.) To improve the quality of your skin from the outside, take daily showers or baths and use a body scrub and oil based moisturiser.
Before you start following this plan, take a note of your thigh measurements around the widest part, just above the knee and around the calves. One leg may be bigger than the other so measure both.
I’d love to hear some comments from you over the next few weeks as you follow this plan. You can pop your comments on to the end of this post or click on the Facebook link to my business page that I visit daily.
Remember the ABCDE:
To achieve an AMAZING BODY requires CONSISTENCY, DEDICATION and EFFORT!