I have 3 weeks left before I will be on my beach holiday. I am super excited about it! I am sure you feel the same way about your upcoming summer holiday! Sun, sand, naked feet and bikinis. Bikinis. There we go. Most of us probably want to look their best in it and wear it with confidence. I guess that’s why magazines have covers touting the “bikini body diet” or “bikini body workout” a few weeks before the summer holidays. I don’t like the term “bikini body” as it implies that you have to fulfill a certain standard (size, weight, muscles?) in order to wear one. Magazines have long realised that men and women are looking for a quick “fix” to look slim and toned at the beach. They want to get rid of bellies, muffin tops and wobbly thighs. Fast.
Well, the problem is that it is nearly impossible to change your body composition and build serious muscle in 3 weeks. Sorry, I know you didn’t want to hear that! Maybe you were hoping for the “bikini body in 5 minutes a day for 21 days” routine? Unfortunately, these promises of hope sell magazines, but I think they are misleading. They only further promote unrealistic expectations and a disturbed relationship with food and exercise.
It is well known by now that crash diets are unhealthy and rarely work. Even if you manage to lose a few pounds, as soon as you go off a severe caloric restriction, the weight comes back – and usually with some extra. It is also not possible to gain muscle fast and easily. Of course, this is hugely dependent on each and everyone’s personal situation and body. Genetics, body composition, fitness and exercise habits, nutrition, health and discipline play a big role, so the amount of muscle you can gain in a certain time is different for everyone.
But, before you move on and google through to the next article on how to get your body beach ready in 3 weeks, let me point out a few things that you can do that will definitely help you look the best you can in 3 weeks. Do these and I you’ll be able to wear your bikini with confidence, whatever your size and shape.
First of all, do away with unrealistic expectations. Unless you are already in great shape, you won’t look like a fitness cover model in 3 weeks. Losing 10kg of fat within such a short time is not possible, and don’t fall for programs, products, pills and potions that promise you that.
Having said the above, what really makes you look good is being healthy and happy. Being on a 3 week crash diet living off salad leaves and water will only leave you looking grumpy and drained. What works is living off healthy whole foods based dishes. Avoid sugar and alcohol for 3 weeks (I know, not easy, I have a very sweet tooth). Avoid anything that makes you bloated (a lot of people for example are lactose or wheat intolerant or get bloated from certain cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli). Avoid processed foods (you know, frozen pizzas and potato chips). Stick to food that is sold on the outside perimeter of your supermarket and avoid the aisles full of sugary cereals, biscuits, chips and frozen convenience meals. Eating nutrient dense food will give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs and your skin and hair will reflect that.
While you can’t pack on a lot of muscle in 3 weeks, you can certainly start with an exercise program that you like. If you have never worked out before, you will get those wonderful newbie gains. It’s never the wrong time to start exercising. The sooner you start the better. You may not have much to show after 3 weeks, but think long-term. In 6 months or 12 months time you may rock that dream outfit.
As for the type of workout programme or the age long argument of cardio or strength training: I recommend doing the workout that you enjoy the most. The only thing that is going to work for you long term (we’re not talking “quick fixes” here that don’t exist) is an exercise program that you can stick to. Some people like yoga. Some prefer running. Some love lifting weights. Find something that makes you happy and sign up for regular classes. I love my Muay Thai and spinning. And I also like lifting weights and running. So I never get bored and I can mix it up any way I like. Exercise should be a part of everyone’s life, like brushing teeth in the morning. And once it becomes part of your lifestyle you will enjoy it so much, it becomes addictive!
The great thing about exercise is, that even if takes time to build muscle, it definitely gives you better posture. Well, unless your exercise program is very one-dimensional, such as only doing bench presses and you start walking around like the hunchback. But, in general, having a strong core and strengthening your body while also incorporating stretching gives your body flexibility, better posture and a confident looking gait.
Besides doing exercise and eating well (including avoiding sugar, alcohol and any other foods that make you bloated or retain water), try to get a decent amount of sleep. Being well rested makes you look 10 years younger. And happy. If I don’t get enough sleep I’m cranky and have dark circles around my eyes. Not a good look for the beach or anywhere.
Together with the crash diets a lot of detox juice diets are recommended. I myself am not a big fan of juice cleanses, but I make myself daily a green smoothie with kale and raspberries. I just find it the easiest way to get my greens in. And I crave it too, I really enjoy it. Find a way to enjoy your greens and have them daily. Your body needs them. As I have said before, plenty of vitamins and minerals make sure your beauty comes from the inside out. Avoiding sugar also helps tremendously with the skin. Trust me on this – try to avoid sugar for a couple of weeks and you will notice the difference. I am a sugar junkie myself and find it hard, but even I can manage for a couple of weeks if I really put my mind to it!
There are studies that show that the more people watch TV, the more overweight they are. It’s hardly a ground breaking discovery. After all, most of us watch TV sitting on a sofa and not while running on a treadmill. Not only are we sitting, we are also very likely to be snacking on foods that are constantly shown on TV ads. So besides reducing screen time (for example, go to bed earlier and get some extra snooze time for that healthy rested look), and stopping snacking while watching TV, I would suggest getting up and doing squats and lunges in between. Although you can’t gain much muscle in 3 weeks, doing several sets of squats and lunges on a daily basis can give your bum a bit of a lift and tone your quads.
Another great exercise to do in front of tv is push-ups. Check out my blog on how to do them properly and it will improve the tone of your arms, chest and midsection.
Most of us are aware that good skin care makes us look better. Exfoliating, cleansing and moisturizing gives a healthy glow, reduces wrinkles and enhances blood flow to the skin. This is obviously not just the case for our facial skin. Looking after our whole body by exfoliating, massaging and moisturizing can make our skin look better and younger, and voilà, we feel better wearing our bikinis or shorts.
Unfortunately, there is no magic potion that can make you look like a fitness model within 3 weeks (unless you already kind of do look like one). But I hope the above gives you enough tips and inspiration to implement them and make you wear your bikini with confidence this summer.
If you do all of the above for 21 days you will end up with something much better and much more powerful than a quick fix bikini body, you will have developed a new habit with food and exercise that will put you in good shape consistently for years to come.
Please let me know if you have tried any of them and if they have made a difference for you! I am always excited to hear from you!