With Pride just around the corner, many of us are trying to slim down or pump up in an effort to put our best foot forward—and to squeeze into those pink Lycra short-shorts. For a lot of people, Pride becomes a great motivator to get in shape.

As a certified personal trainer, ‘tis the season for my inbox to be bombarded with questions about detox diets, weight loss pills and quick fixes. It is human nature to want fast results with minimal effort, but such endeavors fall short—and often do significantly more harm than good.

If you are looking to ring in this year’s pride with real results, then follow these science-based, tried-and-true fitness and nutrition tips:

1. Establish SMART goals. SMART is an acronym that means specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely—and it’s a great guiding philosophy for articulating your fitness goals. Rather than aim to “lose weight,” a SMART goal would be to “lose 15 pounds by June 15.” There’s a big difference.

2. Cut down on red meat. A recent Harvard study found that 9% of male deaths and 7% of female deaths would be prevented if Americans limited red meat consumption to an average of 1.5 ounces per day or less. Often rich in unhealthy saturated fats, replacing red meat with leaner options is a simple way to dramatically improve your wellness and longevity—so that you can enjoy Pride for many years to come.

3. Opt for “good” carbs. Though carbs get a bad rap, not all carbs are created equal. Carbohydrates are absolutely necessary for your body to function, but opt for carbs from high fiber foods like whole grains, veggies, fruits and beans. Fiber slows down the digestion process and prevents spikes in blood sugar levels. Moreover, it makes you feel full, longer.

4. Replace unhealthy side dishes with steamed veggies. With plenty of microwavable frozen options, there’s no excuse for not getting your recommended intake of vegetables. They’re fast and easy, and steamed veggies are a healthy replacement for French fries and chips.

5. Join a gym. If you’re serious about getting into shape, put your money where your mouth is. While some gym memberships can be pricey, keep in mind that—in the long run—you’ll save money on decreased health care costs. It’s worth it because you’re worth it!

6. Up the intensity of your workout. If you already have a workout routine, but are unhappy with the results, it may be time to up the intensity. If you do more of the same, you’ll get more of the same. So, spice things up with interval training, by introducing new exercises, or by upping the speed or resistance levels. It’s time to take your workout to the next level!

7. Hire a trainer. When it comes to connecting your nutrition plan and exercise routine to your SMART goals, nothing beats working with a trainer. The added guidance and accountability can make for money well-spent. Moreover, a good trainer can coach you through proper exercise form and help troubleshoot your workout. When hiring a trainer, shop around—and make sure you find someone that’s a good fit.

I’m always encouraged by any new-found commitment to a healthier lifestyle. Having said that, I’d encourage you to look beyond Pride. It’s about making sustainable, life-long changes.

Though following these tips will transform your outward body, the larger transformation is much deeper—and far more powerful. With more energy, better health, increased confidence and a greater zest for life, exercise is one of the best gifts you can give your body.

-Davey Wavey

P.S. You can read more of my Tips, tricks, and adventure on the Davey Wavey Travel Blog! 

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