There are about eight weeks left before summer is finally here! For many people that’s a cause for celebration, but others may be concerned about shedding their cold weather clothing and revealing a body that has gained a few pounds over winter. But if you act now, you can make some serious progress on attaining the beach body you want. Let’s start by setting some realistic expectations. With the summer months fast approaching, many people feel pressured to lose extra pounds quickly. Unfortunately, many people also become despondent because extra weight doesn’t magically disappear as fast as they would want. The ‘get thin quick’ frenzy is often started with great intentions, but if it isn’t accompanied by realistic goals then is doesn’t have much chance of success. Everyone should feel body confident, and with eight weeks until summer, there is plenty of time for you to make the few lifestyle changes that will deliver visible results. Here are a few simple do’s and don’ts to help you start achieving your summer fitness goals.

DO Start Now – There is no better time than today to get started with a positive approach to fitness and nutrition. Of course, you need to check with your medical provider to ensure you are healthy enough to participate in increased physical activity. Once you get the all clear, you should get started immediately, because wishing and daydreaming about having a perfect body in time for summer isn’t going to get you any closer to your goal. A simple walk or bike ride is a perfect place to start. And then make sure you are at least a little bit active the next day and the day after that too.

DO Take A Slow And Progressive Approach – Jumping into a fitness routine that is too difficult may achieve two things: you may either quit because your body is ore from the sudden increase of activity, or you could sustain an injury that derails your carefully laid fitness plans. So, take it one day at a time and choose activities that you enjoy. Aiming to complete at least 30 minutes of activity each day is a great starting point, and the great news is that almost every exercise can be modified to fit your current fitness level.

DO Set Realistic Goals And Develop A Long-Term Plan – If you want to get thin and show off 6-pack abs by summer, then you need to already have a reasonably low body-fat percentage. Starting a consistent exercise routine will help you firm up all over and work towards a 6-pack one day, even if you don’t manage washboard abs by this June. Setting an achievable goal will help you stick with your fitness plan, so work towards bringing your body fat down by a percentage point or two and then keep up the momentum. And remember: feeling active and healthy is a far more satisfying goal than just aiming for a tummy that ripples with muscles. Healthy weight-loss per week is about 1-2 pounds, and although there are no set guidelines for body-fat loss, a 1% loss per month is considered safe according to the American Council on Exercise.

DON’T Opt For A Radical Diet Or Crazed Fitness Routine – The promise of rapid weight loss and an incredibly toned physique will tempt many people to try an extreme diet, or go from the couch straight to a high-impact fitness routine. This approach is one of the main causes of the yo-yo effect in diet and exercise and often leads to weight gain rather than weight loss. People may experience initial rapid weight-loss but because they can’t possibly sustain extreme plans for a prolonged period, many people find themselves overeating and slumping back on the couch in a short amount of time.

DON’T Weight Yourself Every Day – Weight alone is not a true indicator of a successful training program. Jumping on the scale too often may make you feel disappointed and tempted to quit. Instead of focusing on exact weight loss, consider measuring other factors. It’s often rewarding to aim for improved heart rate at a set intensity level or increased strength – judged by lifting an increased amount of weight. Measuring body fat and body measurements such as waist, hip, and arm inches may provide you with an little extra motivation that your hard work really is paying off.

DON’T Workout Without A Plan – If you are setting your own workouts without the help of a trainer, you should still attempt to make a fitness plan. In order for your body to change, your workout must change too as you adapt to your new increased activity. In simple terms: as you get fitter and your workout seems easier, you should increase your intensity and duration, as this will push your body to improve. This approach follows the simple principle of adaptation and a fitness journal will help you track your progress.

The truth is that there are no shortcuts when it comes to weight-loss and improved fitness level, because a slow and steady approach is always the most successful route to long-term results. But in just eight short weeks, it is possible to see your body adapting to positive changes. And that means it’s definitely worth getting started today! Even if you don’t manage a 6-pack by summer, you might be well on your way by next summer. And by the time the holiday season rolls around, you might be shopping for that perfect party outfit in a smaller size.