I get it. Trust me, I get it. It’s getting nice out and the last thing you want to do is spend an hour or two inside the gym. Who wants to sweat indoors when eating ice-cream by the lake is so much more appealing (and yummy?) But on the flip side, you’ll be donning a bikini before you know it (like, ahem, next week) and you want to look h-o-t.
If only you could snap your fingers Sabrina-the-Teenage-Witch style and have your workout completed and your body looking Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition ready.
Well God is great, but he’s not that nice. Instead, he leaves us messages and makes us feel a little guilty, like the other day when I was waiting for my nails to dry (instead of working out) and I found this pamphlet next to the drying station: “14 Tips and Tricks for Looking Great in Your Swimsuit.” I flipped through the list, somehow managing not to smudge a nail, and now I will share these really great tips with you. (Don’t thank me, thank God. God or the nice Vietnamese people who placed these pamphlets on their drying station).
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1. Mix strength training with cardio. You aren’t going to get Madonna’s arms if you just run every day. Adding a little weight training into your routine (be it with pilates, yoga, or actually lifting some weights) will help you tone all the right extremities and – bonus! – muscle burns more calories than fat. Woo hoo!
2. Don’t eat 2-3 hours before bed. This is by far the hardest rule for college students. Um, my roommate and I have Jimmy John’s and Coldstone on speed dial. But your metabolism slows down when you sleep (Translation: eating pizza/brownies at 2am is much worse than eating those same foods at 7pm), so you may really want to try this little tip out.
3. Eat Breakfast…ALWAYS. (Or if you sleep till noon like me, eat soon after waking up.) Experts say your breakfast will not only keep you from binging later (avoiding the problem in numero dos), but it will kick start your metabolism for the day. Breakfast should include protein (think eggs) and complex carbohydrates (oatmeal, Kashi cereal, whole grain toast).
4. Eat regularly throughout the day. Going Rachel Zoe “I only drink Venti Starbucks teas. OMG, I die! (Literally.)” style won’t help your figure. When you don’t eat, your body thinks you are starving and begins to store fat as a means of survival. The more often you eat, the more adapted your metabolism is to working at burning everything up.
5. Exercise correctly. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen people at the gym doing crunches so wrong. There is a reason your 1,000 crunches a day aren’t producing abs like Kara DioGuardi’s. You aren’t doing it right!!! Set up a one-on-one appointment with a trainer in your gym to make sure you’re doing everything the right way. Oftentimes, they’ll provide these for free, so ask!
6. Eat fat to lose fat. Your body needs fat, plain and simple. It helps your immune system; makes your hair, skin and nails healthy; and so much more. Make sure to incorporate some healthy fats into your diet every day. Choose olive oil, nuts, avocado or nut butters.
7. Variety in exercise. The same 45 minute stint on the elliptical will stop challenging your body and will decrease results. Keep your muscles guessing by switching it up each day (and keep your mind guessing by putting your iPod on shuffle). Try running on the treadmill one day, add a little stationary bike into the mix, try a kick boxing class once a week. Just shake things up a bit (literally and figuratively).
8. Enjoy yourself. Impossible you say? Not so! Run outside, swim, kick box, dance, etc. Just find something you like to do. You are more likely to continue an exercise program if it’s something you enjoy doing. Duh.
9. Drink lots and lots and lots of water. 8 glasses a day is recommended for the average Joe (or Josie), but if you exercise (or, ahem, drink) you need to up that number. Even being mildly dehydrated radically affects how your body performs.
10. Set exercise appointments with yourself. We have all been there: “I’ll go in an hour” and somehow that hour turns into 6 hours later and you are still on your butt watching the American’s Next Top Model marathon (even though you’ve seen all these episodes 3 times) and your workout has gone out the window. If you make a set time to do it each day and make working out part of your schedule (like class and student groups), you will follow through.
11. Eat a lot of protein. Protein helps your body recover and repair after a workout. Upping your protein intake will decrease your soreness and will help result in a longer and leaner body. Ideas include: a few slices of turkey after a workout, a hard boiled egg, or pick up a Magic Bullet (Editor’s Note: BEST. PURCHASE. EVER!) and make your own protein shakes.
12. At the start of a fitness plan, do not be overly aggressive. You will hurt. A lot. You are more likely to stay motivated if you slowly build. Start small – just get moving!
13. Limit your alcohol consumption. Um, okay, so maybe wait till after graduation to follow this one. But really, alcohol not only leads to late night eating (and beer goggles, but that’s a whole different post), it also doesn’t require digestion – the carbs and dietary fats in your favorite vodka tonic are changed into body fat in minutes. Minutes! Such a depressing fact, I know.
14. Always stretch. Stretching improves blood flow, flexibility and muscle recovery. And it feels so, so, so good. Just keep in mind: 1) you should hold each stretch for 20 seconds to get the benefits, 2) you should never force a stretch – only go as far as you can comfortably, and 3) NEVER bounce. Ever. Ever ever. It is bad for those muscles!
Alright, so now that I’ve done my duty of passing on these tips it’s really about time that I get back to that America’s Next Top Model marathon. I kid, I kid.
Well, sorta. I’m gonna watch it… just on the treadmill.