How not to: Emergency Beach Body

3 Jun

Behold, a last-minute plan for that important event on the horizon, like a beach vacation or a Dirty Dancing Reenactment.

So you’ve got a thing coming up that you want to look good for. And here it is, summer already! Now what?

This is the first post in a short series with tips to help you get ready for (as one of my magazines once crassly put it), half-nakey season. All of course, geared toward the last-minute and lazy energy-efficient.

DON’T: expect miracles

Let’s start with the disclaimer: This plan isn’t going to significantly and permanently change your body. I get so irritated when I read about Victoria Secret models making vague recommendations about getting spray tans and watching what they eat before a bikini shoot, like it’s no biggie. There is absolutely no way around it. If you want to actually look like a model, you need to be slightly miserable. You need to work out hard (at least 90 minutes a day, 5-6 days a week) and think about every bite that goes into your body.

But my thoughts on the matter are: who wants to be slightly miserable? Most of us have jobs, kids (whether four- or two-legged), stuff going on, you know? This list is for actual humans. You know, those who want to live ya life, and simply look as good as possible doing it.

DO: something

At this point you might be tempted to throw your hands up and order a cheeseburger pizza. But even little somethings add up, promise.

Ten Days to Two Weeks Before

DON’T: do long, hard workouts

Long, strenuous workouts, like seven mile runs, aren’t the best plan (unless you’re already in a regular habit). Why? Because the average person is way more likely to overeat afterward and/or be more sedentary during the rest of the day, and maybe even skip the next day.

DO: Micro Workouts

Exercise every day, in bite-sized chunks. My favorite workouts are the 7-minute scientific workout, which is an app you can download to your phone and needs no equipment besides a chair (or couch). I also like this 4-minute workout (fair warning: it’s Tabata style, aka fall-on-the-floor intensity). I do them at night while watching TV. Who the heck can’t spare four minutes? You don’t even need to put on workout clothes or shoes.

If you have the time and energy to go a little harder than 4-7 minutes, try a 15-20 minute interval workout (I do P’s Ruthless videos which are great for both chicks and dudes) or here’s a free one. But seriously, don’t push it. The goal is to workout out every single day.

DON’T: fast or juice

I do not believe that drastic calorie drops under any circumstances are healthy. At best you’ll get hangry, and eat all the things–if not before your vacation, then definitely during. At worst, you’ll leach important nutrients from your system, weakening your immune system and making you susceptible to injury, illness, and fights with your significant other.

DO: pick your poison

Instead of trying to eliminate everything bad (that is to say, good) from your diet, cut just one dietary evil for a couple weeks.

Here are the four main things that will make the biggest difference:

White carbs – includes white potatoes but does not include high fiber grains like oatmeal or brown rice

Sugar – particularly when combined with carbs or in drinks

Alcohol – especially beer or cocktails with sugary mixers like soda or margarita mixer (sob!)

Sodium – such as is found in sneaky places like bread, condiments, and salad dressing

For most people, one category makes a bigger difference than others. Beer makes me bloat up like a blimp, for instance. It’s a shame because I really like beer, especially on a hot summer day. But I know that if I don’t want to go to the pool disguised as a puffer fish I’d better skip it.

If you’re having trouble choosing go for white carbs. Why? Because if you cut down on the carbs you’ll probably also cut down on salt and sugar automatically, without even having to make a special effort. (Note: I do not recommend low carb diets as a general lifestyle choice. This is just a temporary thing).

Let’s not get crazy here. I’m not saying you should forego cake at your husband’s birthday or suddenly become a teetotaler (like I said, this plan is for actual people with real lives). I’m just saying if you know you’re going to eat cake, don’t also have champagne. If you’re going to have cheese and/or mayo on your burger, leave off the bun. Go ahead and put butter and salt on your steamed veggies, but don’t get anything that comes in its own sauce. Remember, it’s only for ten days, not the rest of your life. You can handle anything for ten seconds days.

DON’T: attempt a thigh gap by sticking your butt out

There’s some kind of subconscious call, that I can only assume is evolutionary, that makes women stick their booties out when they want to look thin, instead of tuck under as you really should for proper posture. Leave the butt hike to the bikini model contestants. Honestly those girls scare me.

I always stand like this on the beach.

Because in reality, this is what happens.

DO: stretch away a pooch (dudes, this is you too)

A major culprit of potbellies in both men and women, even for those who are otherwise thin, is anterior pelvic tilt. APT is caused by tight psoas mucles (aka hip flexors) and a weak pelvic floor, and to some extent tight hammies and glutes. Why do we get this? Desk jobs, for one.

The psoas is the muscle that allowed our ape-y ancestors to begin walking upright so many eons ago. So it deserves some lovin’! There are many good resources to help combat this very common issue but I’ll show you the easiest stretch in the world. Do it once or twice daily to both sides.

Take a gentle high lunge.

Like so

Like so.

Keeping the back leg straight[ish], pull your tailbone forward (like in hip isolations, for my fellow dancers) until you feel a stretch at the front of the hip. Alternatively, you can think of someone scooping out your stomach with an ice cream scoop.

If the difference in the hip is too hard to see, look at the heel.

If the difference in the hips is too hard to see, look at the heel.

Hold for 20-30 seconds. Don’t push it, the effects are not immediate. That’s why this is in the 10-14 days ahead post.

Optional: lift arm and side bend in the same direction as the front knee.

APT stretch 3

You can put your hand on a chair or couch back for balance if needed.

Switch legs and repeat.

While we’re on the subject, working the pelvic floor is not just for ladies. Gents, you’re not doing yourself any favors if you overlook this crucial organ hammock.

So, confession: kegels skeeze me out big time. Not a fan. Luckily there are other ways to work the pelvic floor, and one you can do during the stretch above. Simply avoid squeezing your glutes when you tuck forward in the lunge–the PF takes over the action automatically.

Another easy PF activation is deep squats. This time, you do want to stick your bum out! Hold for a minute or two.

Squat yay nay

If I can share this embarrassing picture with you, the least you can do is like my post.

I have to hold on to a door knob because there’s a bone in the front of my ankle that’s so long, I can’t plant my heels and stay upright at the same time #weirdanatomy. But you normal people can also do this while watching TV. Or, as my mom always did, while brushing your teeth.

DON’T: forget dat back

Your back is part of your core. Give it a little attenshun and your whole tummy gets tighter. This move is fun and hits all the corset muscles. It’s perfect to do in place of bicycle crunches, which are both strenuous on the back and contribute to tightness in the psoas.

DO: the banana superman

Start in a superman. Think of someone pulling your arms and legs away from your body, as opposed to arching your back. Without letting your arms and legs touch the floor, roll over to your back in a banana shape. Keep rollin’ all the way through to superman on the other side. Then roll back the way you came. Go slow, otherwise you’re cheating by using momentum instead of muscles.

My photographer got a migraine at this point, so you’ll have to make due with a demo by this much less attractive chick.

Up next….what to do 5-7 days before your beach deadline!


3 Responses to “How not to: Emergency Beach Body”


  1. Summer Reading: Ghost Stories | Cushion Cut - June 9, 2015

    […] fear, I’m cooking up part II of the ER beach body series as we speak. But in the meantime let’s talk summer […]

  2. Emergency Bikini Body Part II | Cushion Cut - June 12, 2015

    […] you’ve been following the first part of the plan, you may already be noticing a difference. Time to go suit shopping! (Feel free to skip this […]

  3. Emergency Bikini Body Part III | Cushion Cut - June 25, 2015

    […] so you can get to the important part: relaxing. (You can read the first parts of the series here and […]

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