My Pre-Vacation Tone Up Tricks, to Get Bathing-Suit-Ready, Fast
In about three weeks I will be relaxing poolside in Palm Beach, Florida, wearing a bikini, drinking a green juice and reading a magazine. That seems like a jolt to the system from where I sit now in icy cold New York City. To get from here to there, I have a few simple tricks I use, to feel my best and more comfortable in a bathing suit, by slimming down and toning up -- fast. It's easier than you think if you stay focused, commit to a few simple food swaps and get active daily. Do it and you'll have no regrets.
It can be hard to find motivation to get up and hit the gym first thing in the morning, especially if you're in a cold climate like me. It's also harder to give up warm comfort foods that make us all feel full. (Okay I'm talking about me here. No one has to try this, but since I'm writing from personal experience, I am also trying to give some helpful tips that work for me to get out of bed when it's still dark outside and I have a limited time to hit the gym.) Three weeks is actually the perfect amount of time to accomplish your body goals, since it takes 21 days to create a healthy habit, and once you do, it's easier to continue it for 90 days, according to studies. That being said, I am cutting out unhealthy simple carbs, like bagels and bread, pasta and sugar, and trying to eat half portions, along with getting to my favorite toning workout class.
Swap it out: My usual go-to on the way to work is a bagel smothered with vegan butter or dairy-free cream cheese, but now I am reaching for a small, no-bake energy ball with chia seeds, peanut butter, flax seeds, which you can make at home or get at Greggory's Coffee in New York City and Washington DC. Or, if you want something warm, microwave a sweet potato and sprinkle cinnamon on top. Either of these is a perfect post-workout snack to refuel for the rest of the morning. Since they are complex carbs, they keep your blood sugar low, meaning your body goes to your fat stores for the workout afterburn, so you can feel like you're burning calories at your desk after your gym session.
I grab a salad for lunch, with a light, simple dressing like lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil. Load up on the veggies and go light on the grains. I stick to things like quinoa and farro and add veggies for healthy carbs which make me feel full of healthy nutrients.
Snacks are tricky but if I eat enough healthy nutrients and fiber for breakfast and lunch, I don't generally reach for junk in the afternoon. We keep apples and fruit at work, along with nuts, so I always know if I need something to get me through the afternoon I can grab a handful of almonds, or edamame -- both great sources of vegan protein -- and will be healthier for not giving into the chips.
For dinner, I like to drink a glass of wine (you gotta live a little) alongside a vegetable soup or stir fry. Dinner used to be my biggest meal of the day until I changed the way I ate and saw results. I choose to make plans with a friend for a tea after dinner, so I don't find myself bored, which usually leads to me eating snacks alone on my couch.
Now for the workout: Everyone is different, and I always say the best workout is the one you look forward to, even if you hate it while you're in it, but you're glad you went!
Tracy Anderson is the workout class where I always notice the quickest results and tone up in just a few weeks, going twice a week, and after working that hard I always feel my best. The class is high-intensity body and mat work, where you never get bored and you always leave dripping in sweat no matter how hard you worked. Take note, the class is heated up to 95 degrees, so the sweat is real.
What is the class like? My favorite class is the AtTAin definition class (and the band class when my legs need a break). The AtTAin definition starts off with dance cardio, which is basically doing small jump dance movements from side to side. The floor is a bit bouncy so jumps tend to be easier since the springiness helps boost you up! You work your way onto the mat and using hand weights and leg weights make every move, like leg lifts, harder. Just when you think you can't do another rep you roll onto your side to do knee lifts, then high kicks, then a series of butt kicks. I never even look at the clock since I'm so focused on keeping up, and the workout flies by. Tracy Anderson costs $42 a class and while that sounds like a luxury, I find that investing in these weeks is totally worth it for feeling like I've earned my vacation when I finally get to the pool. Not in the budget? Check out Classpass, which allows you to pay a low monthly fee to attend classes at many different gyms and fitness companies for a fraction of a price. They even have a free 14-day trial here.