Ok ok, some of you have probably seen the above statement online, in a magazine or somewhere similar and thought to yourself. “ok but what does that even mean??”

This is just a short blog piece to help you break down exactly what it means from a trainer point of view. When someone says “summer bodies are built in the winter”

In its simplest terms – it basically comes down to the difference between, training  and living a healthy lifestyle year round or during “winter”, in order to achieve the enviable bikini or beach body, or to simply feel better in holiday style clothing! Vs a short crash diet full of restrictions and starvation with endless hours in the gym in order to achieve the “quick fix”.

Let me begin the information drop by giving you just some of the side physical and mental effects of a ‘crash diet’ or ‘quick fix’


Crash Diet – What is it? Does it work?

As above a crash diet is usually a last minute panic before a big event, (not always a holiday) that leads the person to think, “sh*t I look terrible, I need to get into the gym NOW”

It is so common, I have definitely been guilty of this in one form or another!!

Living in Ireland, winters are, dark, cold, wet and windy. We all know the story here. Our climate makes it extremely hard to get motivated at times. Whether its sticking to the diet or simply making it to the gym.  We then pull the classic Irish move and book a holiday. Something to take us through the dark months.

With great initial intentions we jump into a workout routine and try and get ourselves ready – two weeks later the novelty has worn off. It’s now the start of April. It’s still cold, wet and windy and we are absolutely not going for a walk or workout today!!! It’s cosy pyjamas and movie time…. So much easier, right?

Suddenly it’s now at the end of April. With a host of bad habits and only a few weeks till we are out of the cold into wherever it may be that will have some sun and heat.  Here comes the crash diet.

Being the start of May, it’s now a little bit warmer and brighter, suddenly we burst out of hibernation into our new gym and diet routines.

The common crash diet technique for most people is to absolutely slice their calorie intake by half… We have all done it. Crisps, chocolate, breads, pastas, takeaways. All of it gone, which is absolutely great!

However, suddenly the body has now gone from consuming let’s say 1800 calories a day to a mere crash of 800 calories…. For the first 10 days or so I can guarantee you will be on the good side of the scales. You will be damn hungry and agitated too though!

Then we hit the two week mark. Step onto the scales and NOTHING.  “But I have been so good”, “I have barely been eating anything”, “i even gave this up”, “ugh is this even worth it”

Do these statements sound familiar??

Now you begin to punish yourself in the gym, doing 2 classes in a row, or 90 minutes on the treadmill, anything to beat that scales. Only to arrive at week three and have just the slightest movement on it….

One week left before holiday you think to yourself, “what now?”.  You have already given up so much, your diet has been vastly changed and your exercise regime becoming ever more time consuming…

Here is what’s wrong!

Your body is so so much smarter than you give it credit for. During the winter months you have been living on a far higher calorie intake. Yes, some of it will be stored as fat, but your body and metabolism to an extent will be trained to deal with a higher calorie intake.  When you take this away literally overnight, initially you will shock your body and see good initial results for sure. But guess what, your body and metabolism are 1 step ahead. 10 days later your body now re adjusts itself.  Your body will now live and function on a mere 800 calories.  But here’s the best part, your brain will be slower on the uptake, mentally 800 calories will feel like nothing, because IT IS!! That’s when we become moody, cranky and agitated at the sheer lack of food and what we deem “fun food”.

Couple this agonising style of dieting with the scales that just now won’t move, you will really begin to find yourself in a rut.  You now almost can’t get your body back into a calorie deficit, unless you have time for a 4 hours gym session that is……

Now some of you will have stuck this crash diet out right up until you get to Dublin airport. A couple of glasses of wine later it’s time to board the plane, a glass or two more and you will be disembarking the plane to hopefully somewhere tropical.  Ready for the first dinner of the holiday!

Day 1 and our crash diets are now long gone, holiday mode fully embraced.  Which is a glorious feeling, we all know it!!

Here’s another feeling we also all know

Day 4 feelings:

  • “Ugh why am I so bloated”
  • “Why did I even bother dieting”
  • “This fit me last week”
  • “Can’t wear that this week anyway”
  • “What is wrong with my body this week”

Some relatable phrases I’m sure.

Here’s what’s happening:

4 days back up into 1500 calories and above, your body inside is screaming at you.  It is trying to figure out what to do, you have crash dieted it so badly down that it now begins to rapidly store all these excess calories for the next expected period of starvation.

You become bloated, watery, and more than likely lethargic. Most of all you just feel like complete sh*t, and your body confidence has taken a hammering, which for most is the worst part. Not feeling good in the clothes you want to wear is a crap feeling to have.

That’s really the direct physical result of a crash diet for a holiday or event. There are also mental aspects to watch out for.  Your relationship with food is so vitally important. It alongside water is the fuel for life. Don’t treat it any other way.

Do not get to a position where food is the enemy, it will not and does not end well for anyone. Use food as a tool not a vice.

Just like food, exercise is vital, both for mental and physical health.  Blaming exercise for your lack of results, and then beginning to resent it, will leave you with a massive hole in your day to day life. The benefits of exercise are literally endless.

Hopefully by now that I should have swayed you away from a crash style regiment, you are probably thinking: “what the hell do I actually do so”

Firstly, start slow. The chances are you are not an olympic athlete!!  So don’t treat your training as such.

Pick a gym, a trainer, or simply a hobby that will keep you active, help you get off the couch and out of the house. In Ireland gyms tend to be more popular as it doesn’t seem to rain indoors!!

The most popular time to start an improved lifestyle tends to be January, which is perfect. If you plan to go away during the summer months, this leaves you with ample time to break and rebuild new healthy habits. Not simply bury the old ones away and open them up at the first sign of failure.

Once you are happy with how the newfound exercise is going, it’s time to have a little look at your diet. This isn’t a blog about recommending any specific diets, so I won’t do so. What I will say however, do something that works for you, pick a nice, healthy and well-rounded diet, that allows you to meet your vitamin, mineral and micro nutrient requirements. It must be sustainable or I promise, you will be back on the couch by mid February wondering why you bothered.  Trust me, we have all been there.

The benefits of a slow sustainable lifestyle change go so far beyond getting in shape for a holiday! However, in keeping with how I slandered the crash diet, here’s what to expect when your away. And it doesn’t take me long to write.

Day 4 “What do you fancy for dinner this evening”

“hmmmm something nice and light, why don’t we walk down to the beach and pick a restaurant?”

See what I did there?

Suddenly it’s not a crave fuelled taxi to the closest pizzeria. It’s subconsciously making a decision to stay active, chose a healthier option and thus have a far far more enjoyable holiday.

And do you know what happens when the holiday ends? Not much to be honest. You will probably be in slightly worse shape than when you arrived, but that simply won’t matter, you will be so excited to get back into your pre holiday lifestyle!! That is an absolute promise.

I chose to write on this topic right now because some of you will have booked a holiday or are just starting to think about it. To get that summer body, make small changes now.

If you can take anything away from reading this, take a healthy approach to life.  If you are someone that needs a goal in order to achieve something that is absolutely fine, pick a long term goal. Short term goals can come and go extremely quickly. Long terms goals ensure you don’t make quick, hasty ill thought out decisions!

Start slow.

Build it up.

Break old habits and build new ones.

Too many people get bogged down about the next weigh in, the next week, the next month or the next holiday! Improve your quality of life by making long term changes, you won’t look back.  The summer bodies are maintable if you start now.


Cheers – Dom

Complete PT






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