A big factor that people forget about when trying to get summer fit is expectation and reality. This should not be used as an excuse but we do need to be realistic about what changes we can make and how much time we have to spend on making those changes.

I’m a busy mom and I don’t have time to be making separate dinners for every family member. When I look to tighten things up for all my clients coming into the summer, the approach has to be realistic and something that does not cause burn out, as this leads to giving up and not getting results.

Here are some of my top tips for creating small changes that will help make a difference to leaning-up for summer:

* Create a family dinner plan: There’s nothing boring about it. Look at foods that the entire family eats and plan what you are going to eat each day. The reason I look at dinner first, is because overeating and mindless eating tends to happen when you get home in the evening and start to wind down. At least one to two dinners mid-week should be fast dinners. I don’t have the energy every night to slave over hot dinners, so have a health fast alternative or leftovers.

* Take a family walk: Often people struggle after dinner looking for that sweet kick, so now that the brighter evenings have arrived take the entire family out to the park or the beach or for a walk or a ball game and some fun. You’ll be amazed how much more energised you will feel afterwards and this will also help curb your sugar cravings.

* Allow for some ‘me’ time: Our lives may be busy but you have to be able to factor three 20-minute exercise slots into your average week to help you achieve your fitness and weight loss goals.

* Keep a food diary: This is a great way for you to understand where you are going wrong with food. Trust me, it’s always a surprise when you are truly being honest with yourself on what you eat. Eating should consist of three healthy balanced meals and two healthy snacks. Don’t cut out meals, this will only slow your metabolism down. Starving yourself is never the answer.

Do each exercise 12 times before moving on to the next one. When you have completed each exercise, that is one set. Catch your breath before moving on to the next set, and do three to four sets, three to four times a week

Lean up for summer

Sumo  squat

1/ Start by standing upright, with your arms straight and your feet wider than shoulder-width apart.

2/ Lower yourself towards the floor, sending your hips back and down and bending your knees. Then push through your heels to return to the start position, keeping your back straight and head up throughout the exercise.

Diamond crunch

1/ Start by lying on your back with the soles of your feet together, knees out to the sides and your arms straight up over your chest.

2/ Then raise your head and shoulders off the floor. Lower the body back down to the start position and repeat the movement. Keep the soles of the feet together throughout the exercise.

Floor dips

1/ Start by sitting on the floor with your hands behind you, fingers pointing towards your feet and feet flat on the floor. Then lift your hips off the ground so your weight is on your hands and feet. 2/ Dip down towards the ground bending at the elbows and return to the start straight-arm position. Your glutes should not touch the ground throughout this exercise.

Uni glute bridge

1/ Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor with hands by your sides.

2/ Raise your hips off the floor making a straight line.

3/ Then extend one leg straight out. Lower yourself back to the floor and repeat.

This article appeared on Independent.ie