We all do it every year; panic four weeks before a holiday. We don’t feel slim enough; we haven’t lost as much weight as we hoped; and our recent shopping expedition trying on swimming costumes and shorts almost ended in tears.
But panic no longer: four weeks really is enough time to make a significant difference.
And you can start right here – check out our 4 effective ways to feel and look better on your holidays.
1. Assess your attitude: first things first, let’s look at your attitude. If you’re a perfectionist, then you’re already probably being incredibly hard on yourself. Ditch the pressure. And ditch the magazines. Remember that those images are airbrushed and, in reality, most women have cellulite and most men don’t have a six-pack. Get real with it. Make the most of what you’ve got. Buy flattering clothes. If shorts just don’t suit you (not a winning look on me at all), then ditch them for a slimming dress that makes the most of other parts of your body, like maybe a great cleavage or a narrow waist. Focus on the positive changes you’re making, and ditch perfection altogether. You’re beautiful just as you are today.
2. Invest in some pampering: yes it all costs money, but a little bit of pre-holiday maintenance makes you feel great. A pedicure, a bikini wax or buying some exfoliator and starting the fake tan early will give you a spring in your step. Dry skin brushing is also a great thing to start a few weeks before holiday; I swear it works with minimizing cellulite and, combined with some good hill walks or working out, will go far in helping you feel your best on hols. Remember, it’s not all about how you look, but more about how you feel in yourself, so don’t always focus on appearance. Eat healthily and lead a healthy lifestyle and you’ll be glowing!
3. Avoid panic-dieting: it’s so tempting, but please don’t crash diet – it doesn’t work! In fact, research shows that people end up gaining more fat after a crash diet. Keep following your healthy eating plan but, yes, by all means tighten things up. You may want to up your protein a little, while simultaneously eliminating any white, processed carbs (white bread, white pasta, white rice, and, of course, sugar – which all wreck havoc on your appetite). It’s time, instead, for salads with lots of high quality protein (think halloumi/smoked salmon/chicken salads with extra greens such as tenderstem broccoli boiled and then blanched in cold water). Make sure to include two healthy snacks each day, to eat at least servings of oily fish each week, and to watch portion sizes (scaling down to a smaller plate works a treat). In four weeks you could comfortably lose 4-5 Ibs which, although it doesn’t sound like much, makes a huge difference.
4. Make exercise count: if you move your body for the next four weeks, we guarantee you’ll see a difference. Do the aerobic exercise daily if you can – walking/cycling/jogging/swimming. And start doing 10 minutes a day of floor exercises; it eats up very little time in your day, yet makes a surprising difference to how toned you are.
– My faves are bent-knee push-ups (they target six different muscles at once; biceps, triceps, deltoids, pecs, abs, and even glutes). Get on all fours on a mat. With your hands about shoulder width apart, back flat and head looking forward, slowly lower your body towards the floor while maintaining a rigid torso and head aligned with your spine. Do not allow your lower back to sag or your hips to hike upwards during this downward phase. Continue to lower yourself until your chest or chin touch the mat or floor. Your elbows should remain close to the sides of your body. Bring yourself slowly back up again. Repeat 10 times x 1 set and then try to build to 2-3 sets over time.
– A second move to include is squats; a simple way to do these is to squat against a wall into an invisible chair. Keep your feet hip-width apart, knees over your ankles, and squeeze your abs to avoid arching your back. As you become stronger, you can hold dumbbells to increase the intensity. Aim for 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions.
– Third, if you do have some dumbbells or kettlebells at home, use them for deadlifts. These are incredibly effective in toning the whole body, particularly the back, bum and legs. Stand with your legs slightly wider than shoulder-width. Keep the weights close to your body as you lift them off the ground. Be sure to raise your shoulders and hips together, and avoid arching your back. Technique is important, so you may want to get some pointers from a trainer or this video to ensure you don’t compromise your back. Aim to do one set of 8-12 reps and build to 2-3 sets over time.
– Lastly, the Pilates 100s move is an excellent one to tighten up your middle and get your waist back. Watch this video to learn the basics. The move involves lying on the floor and gently lifting your legs and arms. Beginners should keep the knees bent and the arms parallel to the floor. As you become more advanced, aim to straighten your legs. Holding this pose will tighten the muscles in your back and tummy simultaneously. If you have a dodgy back – like me – just keep the knees bent or even flat throughout.
Look Better On Your Holidays
Enjoy all the prepping for you holiday – and remember, you deserve the chance to feel really good on this one! It’s never too late – even 10 days of good habits will help you to feel and look better on your holidays (although 4-6 weeks is optimum). Invest that bit of time now and you’ll feel great – I’d even argue that you’ll even enjoy your holiday more. And do try to keep up good habits on your holiday – don’t aim for perfection, just staying the same weight as when you left is a huge achievement in itself. Read Michael’s blog on this here.
If, however, you’re one of those people who are determined to lose weight on holidays, have a read of our blog on that subject. It is entirely possible and relatively pain-free. Like anything, it’s about the choices you make and if they’re 80 per cent healthy choices, you’ll probably even lose a few pounds (especially if you’re more active than usual).
One of the most effective ways to do this is to say ‘no’ to the bread basket most of the time and to stick to just 1-2 drinks each day, whilst also staying generally active. You can still enjoy a treat of course, such as an ice-cream or a few glasses of wine. The key is to balance everything out with lots of healthy salads, tons of water and some good food decisions.
Let’s face it, healthier habits don’t just make us look better on our holidays, but we also tend to feel better – and that’s definitely worth it!