Summer is here! But perhaps so are those extra few pounds you've been trying to lose since winter. Do not fret – Gunnar Peterson, a fitness expert with more than 20 years of experience and clients including top celebrities and professional athletes, is here to help.

Gunnar is launching a new version of his eight week workout plan "The Gunnar Challenge" in late May and has teamed up with California Almonds to bring you his most efficient tips to energize your health and fitness routine.

Let's start in Gunnar's favorite place  –  the gym. Summer is a great time to shake up your workout routine and trick your body with new moves, repetitions and even the order of your workout. Changing up your routine avoids exercise boredom that comes from performing the same workout the same way, every day.

To avoid exercise boredom, Gunnar recommends:

  • Switching up the order of a workout for faster results: If you always start with cardio, alternate days starting with strength training and vice versa.
  •  Incorporating short bursts of cardio into strength training: Sick of your full sessions of cardio during the week? Eliminate one or two days of straight cardio and instead, incorporate quick, intense bursts of cardio into your strength training session, like sets of jumping jacks or five minutes of jumping rope.
  • Integrate Gunnar's Wildcard Workout into your weekly routine
    • Begin your workout with a light warm-up. Then repeat the following circuit four times:
      • 25 push-ups, on your toes or on your knees.
      • 20 split squats per leg.
      • 25 bench dips. Use a bench, couch or any other elevated stable surface.
      • 1 minute wall sit.
      • 1 minute plank. If you're a beginner, modify the pose by placing your knees on the ground.
      • Watch Gunnar demo each of the above moves in the below video:


  • Finish your workout with 35 minutes of cardio  –  cycling, walking, running, rowing  –  whatever gets your heart pumping.
  • Remember to take some time at the end of the workout to have a stretch. Your body will need it after this workout.

While breaking a good sweat is essential to a successful fitness routine, Peterson says smart nutrition is equally important: "Beyond shaking up your routine, convenience is the key to a healthy lifestyle", says Peterson. "Keep nutritious food in the house to prevent making poor choices when hunger hits. One thing I always keep in my kitchen and my office is almonds. Just a handful has the crunch, fiber, protein and good fat that keep me full and satisfied during the day".

The six grams of protein and four grams of fiber in every ounce (28g) of almonds also helps Gunnar's clients practice what he calls "defensive eating"  –  planning ahead and fueling up with wholesome foods to prevent unhealthy temptations later. Whether heading to a barbecue, ball game or especially to the airport for summer travel, Gunnar believes in having a nutritious snack beforehand ? and packing one to-go ? to avoid food traps .

Fueling before and after working out is also crucial, he says.

For a small pre-workout snack, Gunnar recommends these combinations 30 minutes before your workout:

  • Small handful of almonds with 10 raisins or four dried apricots
  • One serving of plain Greek yogurt
  • An apple with a teaspoon of almond butter
  • One slice of raisin toast spread with a teaspoon of almond butter
  •  Small bowl of low GI cereal (Gunnar likes TeeChia) with low-fat milk

For a post-workout snack, Gunnar recommends eating within one hour of the end of your workout:

  • A teaspoon of almond butter on 100% whole grain bread
  • Egg, ham or tuna sandwich with a glass of low-fat milk
  • 100% whole grain cereal with low fat-milk and sliced banana
  • A fruit smoothie (watch the portion size and added sugar, keep calorie count to under 300)
  • One serving of plain Greek yogurt with a piece of fruit

Next step, enjoy your summer and the fruits (and nuts) of your labor!

About Gunnar Peterson
Gunnar Peterson is a Beverly Hills-based personal trainer with a diverse client list ranging from celebrities and professional athletes to everyday people. He is the developer of "Core Secrets", a fitness system focused on strengthening the core of the body. Peterson is an editor for Muscle and Fitness and on the advisory board for Fitness. His latest fitness endeavor, "The Gunnar Challenge" is a customized eight week nutrition and fitness program, which will launch online in late May 2014. Peterson is certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is a graduate of Duke University. Follow Gunnar on his website and Twitter.