Monday, May 5, 2008

The Skinny on Getting Swimsuit Ready

Reader Query: Question for your area of expertise: I'm going on a trip in less than 2 weeks where a bathing suit and skimpy clothing are required. I'm not TOO stressed, but just wondering- what are some last minute food tips/exercise tips/beauty tips that I might use to get beach ready?!

This question comes to us from the phantom, foodie blogger behind DishThisBoston, but I have a sinking suspicion that she's not the only one looking for a few tips to help ease the anxiety associated with shedding layers and showing more skin. Whether you're headed out of town on holiday or to the fitting room to try on some summer duds, looking and feeling fab in less is probably top of mind.

Of course, there is no magic bullet for bikini-clad bliss- particularly when you only have a 2-week lead time. Yet, there are ways to increase the likelihood that your scant wardrobe won't make you want to scurry into a dark corner.

Guzzle water. It helps flush out your system, including your skin. If you're going to bare more of it, you'll want it to be hydrated and happy.

Get thee to Chinatown, and buy a bamboo steamer. It's the easiest, tastiest, best way to cook the veggies that you need, now, more than ever. I'm not a betting gal, but I'd wage my karma on the fact that you don't get enough fresh vegetables. Allow these nutrient rich, delicious vegetables to make up the bulk of your dinner every night. Enjoy lean protein and whole grains as well. If this all sounds familiar, it's because it's the most healthful, effective way to eat. Period.

Fuel up with fiber. Add some additional fiber to your diet; this will help you stay fuller, longer and regulate your digestive system.

Check your expectations. It's unrealistic to think that you won't indulge. Instead, limit your splurges to one vice at a time. Instead of gorging on pasta, bread, wine, and dessert. Choose your favorite; relish it, and bypass the rest. It would be a shame to miss out on life's culinary gifts by being on a perpetual diet, but be judicious about your choices.

For the most bang for your buck, a jump rope reigns supreme. Buy one; start skipping. Alternate one minute of jumping rope (or jumping jacks if you're missing the Rocky gene) with one minute of a toning exercise like lunges, abs, or push ups. Do this for 10-20 minutes. It is an ass-kicker, but that's the point.

Leave the whip at home and walk. Keep a pair of sneakers handy (e.g. in the trunk, your office, your locker) and walk, instead of driving, whenever possible. It's not only good for your gams, it clears the brain as well and helps heal the environment.

Call me crazy, but I think medicine balls are fantastic. I have one at home; it makes commercial breaks more fun and me more fit!

If you're a yogi, be cognizant that you're not overlooking your practice in favor of a certain result. Instead, use your practice to be more focused and attuned to what your body needs (rest, healthy meals, fresh air) and doesn't (half a cheesecake, three frozen margaritas, and a bagel, egg, and cheese sandwich). Yoga often leads to weight loss, but understand that the physical benefits are truly secondary. We practice yoga to enjoy life more, yet there are plenty of miserable yogis in the world- and skinny people for that matter.

Hit the steam room. It's a powerful and relaxing way to detox your body, clear your head, and reveal your skin's natural glow.

Devise a tan. If your plans include less clothing, a little color helps. Get outside, or get a moisturizer with a bronzing agent. Two weeks is plenty of time to pull off a coup de pallor.

Get buff. Bliss hot salt scrub with rosemary and eucalyptus is practically a vacation, itself. Use it to exfoliate skin and soothe tired muscles.

Every single day, for the next two weeks (and beyond!) think of something great your body does for you. Mentally say "thank you" to your physical being for the ability to walk with a graceful gait, pick up a heavy toddler, or help a pal move into a new apartment. Focusing on the function of your body will enhance its form. You'll stand taller, breathe deeper, and smile bigger because you'll realize that your body doesn't just look good, it helps you live a good life, which is never more evident then when you are on vacation, with sand between your toes, fresh air in your lungs, and the sun warming your exposed skin.

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