Most of us fail to make significant changes in our body for three reasons: We don't change our diet, we don't exercise efficiently, and we dread working out. In the summer, it's easier to change all three bad habits.
First, understand that you can't out-train a bad diet. But you can stick to a healthy eating plan following some simple rules:
Count calories, at least somewhat. Losing weight is a math game. A calorie is a unit of energy, and you have to work off more of those and take in fewer of them every week to get in shape. Pretty simple. That's easier to do with fresh vegetables being a big part of your diet, which are in abundance this time of year.
Keep a healthy mix of carbs, protein, and good fat. Don't overthink it, or you won't stick to it. But if you had a little pasta for lunch, you probably should have salad with vinaigrette and grilled fish for dinner.
If you drink, keep it up. Just have a beer with dinner (or two lite beers!), or a glass of wine, or one cocktail. On your cheat day, have two or three.
Yes, an entire cheat day. Don't gorge, but eat nachos and ice cream and whatever you crave. There's good science behind why, but just trust me, OK?
Second, most people think jogging is good exercise. It isn't, because it's highly ineffective. Your body becomes used to the slow, boring pace and it doesn't work hard enough to effect change. You've got to grunt.
So take advantage of summer and get outside to exercise, but do so with interval training and body-weight moves. Interval training — short bursts of high-intensity for 30 seconds to a minute, followed by at least that amount of time of moderate rest — not only works you harder, it keeps your furnace burning for hours longer. (Google body-weight/interval guru Craig Ballantyne for in-depth information on this.) Here's a semi-tough 5x5 interval I do at Piedmont Park on nice days. (Do each exercise for 50 seconds, rest 10 seconds, go to the next one, then wait one minute between sets. Repeat five times.)
• Body-weight squats
• Push-ups (Spiderman style for advanced)
• Cross-body mountain climbers
• Knee-high run in place
Then finish with six interval sprints around the park. (Search for "cbathletics" on YouTube for all of Ballantyne's body-weight videos.)
Finally, you've got to look forward to exercise, and doing it outdoors makes it not only simple but spiritually rewarding. Atlanta is full of great outdoor parks and spaces. Make a workout mixtape, get outside, and go. Do your body-weight/interval workouts three days a week, and on your off days take a jog around the city, or bike along the park. If you need inspiration, Google Atlanta's own Nerd Fitness king Steve Kamb. Make this summer about exploring your city as well as getting in shape. If it takes all summer to see big results, that's OK. You'll want to look hot in winter clothes, too.