Summer snuck up on me and I want to lose weight yesterday. Any suggestions?

— Sandra G., Ojai

Summer has arrived and you may find yourself standing in front of the mirror, staring at your body in last summer’s swimsuit and thinking, “How could I have let it get to this?” But you’re not alone! Thousands of women are doing the same thing. What makes you different from them? This summer, you’re going to do something about it and I’m here to help. My goal is to provide you with some proven tips to shape up for the bikini-baring season.

Trouble shooting

Women are usually concerned with the appearance of the midsection, thighs and buttocks. The great news is that we all have a six-pack, toned thighs and gluteus maximus muscle. You just can’t see them because of the layer of subcutaneous body fat that sits overtop these muscles. Therefore, once the body fat is reduced, your abs, thighs and gluteus will shine. The best thing you can do right now is to get a body-fat test conducted. Once your body-fat percentage is established, set a goal to reduce your body fat 1 percent every three weeks. Build up to performing cardio respiratory exercise for 30, 45 and up to 60 minutes three to five times per week to reach your goal.

Resistance to the rescue

In my opinion and experience, the second best thing you can do is resistance training (i.e., lifting weights). It is a proven fact that muscle is responsible for 98 percent of the body’s ability to burn fat. For toning thighs as well as the buttocks, perform bench squats at home using a chair or coffee table. To begin, you simply sit down, keep your feet in place, stand-up and then sit back down. Continue doing this for three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions a few times per week. (If you feel this is too easy, stand back up before you allow your bottom to touch the chair). For more buttocks firming exercises, send me a video request and I’ll e-mail you our latest online video, “Get Great Gluteus.”

The key ingredient

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of nutrition as the key ingredient to lowering your body fat. Exercise without balanced nutrition is like a car without fuel. It just doesn’t work. Simply put, what you eat and drink play a major role in how long it’s going to take to achieve your goals. For fast results, avoid the following foods for seven to 21 days while keeping track of your personal results: Foods such as french fries and donuts, white flour, candy, processed sugar listed first to fourth on the ingredients list, and alcohol exceeding a glass or two of wine.

Weight loss

If you want to save yourself time and energy, get your focus off losing weight and shift more toward burning fat. Once you begin avoiding the aforementioned foods, additives and beverages that cause weight gain, and increase your physical activity … you will experience an outcome that will motivate you to continue on the pursuit of fit over fat. And the best part is that you will feel great in your swimsuit, too!