Three weeks to bikini. GO.
April 4, 2013 10:18 AM   Subscribe

I guess it's Fitness Day on Ask MeFi, ha! I have a warm-weather vacation coming up--last weekend of April, and I'm looking for short-term hacks that will help me 1) Look super-awesome in shorts, tanks, and my bikini 2) Be in a good place to absorb a little vacation-based food indulgence (booze and food)

I'm 5'2" and hovering between 110-112 lbs, so we're not talking any kind of drastic weight loss. I do cardio 4x a week and resistance (rowing, planks, rubber band) 2x a week. In other words, I'm in basically decent shape. If nothing changed at all, I'd still put on the bikini, but I'd like to be psyched to do so.

My diet...isn't outstanding. I do eat lots of produce, mostly raw, and a fair bit of lean protein, but...also lots of sugar (man, the sweet tooth I've developed in my 30s is intense). I've already cut way down on booze, to ~2 drinks per week. (No beer.)

So I know there are a lot of things I could change (more exercise, less sugar, no booze at all, no carbs, tapeworms....), but what specific changes do you all think will make the biggest difference in this short amount of time?
posted by like_a_friend to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
I recommend Lyle McDonald's Rapid Fat Loss protocol. If you don't feel like shelling out the money for the book, then I would recommend a very low calorie protein sparing modified fast. Try Googling PSMF.

Expect to be eating lean protein almost exclusively for the next three weeks, and not a lot of it. When I do it, it's skinless chicken breasts and fat-free cottage cheese.
posted by Tanizaki at 10:21 AM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you have a smartphone, the "Instant Fitness" app is great for short, intense workouts.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:28 AM on April 4, 2013

Seriously up the resistance training. Basically, lift heavy weights to put on as much muscle as you can in the next three weeks. You aren't going to get crazy popping out muscles, don't worry, but even a little more muscle might make a difference for you since you're already thin. Starting Strength and Stronglifts 5x5 are frequently recommended.
posted by MadamM at 10:29 AM on April 4, 2013

You're at a healthy weight, and you don't need to lose weight. I'm sure you look fantastic! So, I hesitate to comment at all, but: No sweets? When you say lots of sugar, what do you mean, exactly?

It really depends on the person, but I find that, as textbook ectomorph, cutting the crap has immediate results. I don't build muscle that easily, but I can shed fat pretty quickly. But every body is different.

Enjoy your vacation!
posted by ablazingsaddle at 10:35 AM on April 4, 2013

Diet will make the biggest difference. If you simply cut out the sugar entirely and make no other changes, you'll see good results very quickly.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 10:37 AM on April 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

Give up sweets.

Work your shoulders -- lateral raises, front raises, overhead press. Shoulder muscles don't take too long to develop and it makes your waist and bottom half look leaner and smaller, and who doesn't appreciate sexy shoulders?

Run or jog to lean out thighs.
posted by Fairchild at 10:43 AM on April 4, 2013

Response by poster: @ablazingsaddle: by "lots of sugar" I really do mean sugar in the "old-fashioned" way, what my mom meant by sugar before she learned about the Paleo diet. ;)

Ice cream, chocolate, sugary coffees...these are my Waterloo, and most days I have at least one of those (I try not to have MORE than that...but yesterday, for example, I had a Starbucks in the morning and a bit of ice cream at night). Giving these up entirely would obviously have a noticeable effect, I was just unsure of how quickly.

(FWIW this is a thing I plan to work on in a long-term sense also, both for the sake of my poor teeth and because I'm not a fan of the repeated blood sugar fuckery)
posted by like_a_friend at 10:49 AM on April 4, 2013

Very short term, but will definitely help the way you look in shorts: get a bit of a tan on your legs.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 11:00 AM on April 4, 2013 [6 favorites]

Even changing from refined sugar to more healthy variants may help -- make some banana muffins with maple syrup, or get some of Steve's Paleo krunch bars. Anything like that can hold your sweet tooth at bay while helping your body handle its carbs better.
posted by acm at 11:00 AM on April 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Cutting out that sugar will have a diuretic effect and you'll look less puffy. Of course, it'll come right back when you go back to eating sugar, but so be it.

Back when I was thin, when I wanted to look cut I gave up sugar for a few days. It would noticeably trim my arms and stomach.
posted by 26.2 at 11:03 AM on April 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Cutting sugar will have an immediate effect, if you are anything like me. It might be a bloating issue, but my stomach is noticeably flatter after just a week of eating clean, so that's the #1.

Also, kinda eew, but - colon health. They say we can hold 5-10 lbs there... soooo yeah. Drink lots of water, eat lots of fiber, fixes any extra bloating like BAM. I get the Amazing Grass wheat grass drink; and if you take that stuff twice a day, it does wonders.

And depending on how your body works, some intense resistance training (legs, abs, shoulders) can start to show results that quickly. I start looking better after a couple weeks (if I do a lot of it) but some people take a little longer for the benefit to start showing.
posted by celtalitha at 11:56 AM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would think that a 1 week juicing fast before you go would give you the drastic result you're looking for.
Long term though, try replacing one meal a day with fresh green juice (I use leafy greens with a grapefruit or lemon plus water in my blender and then push it though a mesh sieve, you don't have to buy a $400 juicer) and you'll keep an extra bit of weight off indefinitely in addition to it being really good for you! It might even help cut the sugar cravings.
posted by tenaciousmoon at 12:35 PM on April 4, 2013

Oh, girl. Lose the ice scream and sugar-y coffee and it will make a huge, huge difference. Also,
I drop weight when I cut out drinking, so if you're having beer/wine/cocktails, cut those out for the three weeks, also.

Otherwise: lean protein and fewer carbs (I become a lunatic if I go NO carb, but LOWER carbs really does help).
posted by Countess Sandwich at 2:05 PM on April 4, 2013

Best answer: I'm 5'2" and I weigh 113, so we're in the same boat.

In my opinion the single most important thing you can do to feel great about that bikini is to stop looking in the mirror, get off the scale, and focus on how you feel when you are exercising. I promise this isn't a flip answer. I've noticed that my own body image can change really drastically even though I'm not gaining or losing any weight. For example, if I've just come in from a run or a long hike, I feel svelte and powerful and healthy and putting on a bikini sounds like a great idea. If I've just been in a dressing room at a shop, on the other hand, I tend to believe I look ugly from every angle and I feel too shy to strut around in public in what's basically underwear. Since my body hasn't actually changed, this makes me realize how strongly my perception can be warped.

Also, I recommend getting a bikini that fits really well. Having to constantly adjust it will make it really hard to just feel confident and enjoy. And nothing's worse than having to forgo running around, jumping in waves and generally goofing off because of "wardrobe malfunctions".
posted by Cygnet at 2:18 PM on April 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

I know you're asking about fitness, but the thing you can do that will make the most difference is get a good waxing and a good non-fake-looking spray tan. There is a reason why the person in the "before" picture is always pasty and the person in the "after" picture is always not.

(De-bloating can also be pretty quick and impressive, I'll grant, but it's also going to go away on day one when you eat vacation food.)
posted by anaelith at 3:36 PM on April 4, 2013

I can't believe I'm talking about this in public, but... the way I do this is The Beverage Diet.

The Beverage Diet is... you only drink water for two weeks. Yeah. I know. Sometimes I will modify it with black coffee and water. But getting rid of soda, juice, milk, and sweetened anything is a huge temporary reduction in intake of sugars and the like. (I KNOW juice and milk are good for you, but we are talking about vanity here not health.)

Plus The Beverage Diet is less miserable than the more drastic option I sometimes employ, which is The No Bread Diet. The secret of that diet is that you don't eat any bread.

Annoyingly, these things work. (Annoying because I love bread, so much.)
posted by RJ Reynolds at 4:15 PM on April 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

I wouldn't do any hack diets or anything like that. I'm 5'1" and fluxuate between 108-117lbs. When I let my sweet tooth let loose, I'm closer to 117lbs. When I want to lean down in a few weeks to 108lbs-ish then I basically don't eat shit. Nothing processed, nothing fake (no dairy b/c it's an inflammatory and many people are allergic to it). Only real food. 5-6 small meals of roughly 200-250cals each and they look roughly like this:

1. Green smoothie (whey protein from a good brand like Dymatize, a bunch of different kinds of lettuce, kale, spinach etc. all blended together with some coconut oil for healthy fats). I usually pair this with 1 cup of berries.

2. Handful of unsalted nuts (not several handfuls b/c these have a lot of calories! so roughly 1/4 cup).

3. Vegetables and scrambled eggs

4. Fish and vegetables (usually dark green vegetables like asparagus or broccoli steamed)

5. Three prunes and a protein shake (usually after my workout b/c the prunes have sugar and it's when I'm most likely going to burn off the sugar). Or I'll have a small portion of a sweet potatoe and a protein shake after a workout.

I also drink 3-4L of water everyday, not just when I want to lean down. This will help though b/c it will flush out the excess water from your body that you're retaining.

This isn't a diet or anything, but a lifestyle I live and when you're eating as much vegetables as I am, you don't have cravings b/c your body is actually getting the nutrients it needs. I've had low iron and all of that my whole life until I started eating this way. B/c of the healthy fats, I'm not hungry and it serves as a long term energy. Carbs are an instant energy (ie. fruits and vegetables) and fats (ie. egg yolks, coconut oil, fish, etc.) are long term energy so before workouts I have carbs (usually the green smoothie and berries) and then keep with the fats all day to make sure don't binge eat on something bad for me. I eat every 2.5-3 hours.

When I eat this way, I don't have any bulging anywhere and if I have a couple days in a row of bad nutrition, I lean right down going back to my lifestyle eating.

I also primarily do weight lifting and I'm not bulky or anything. I'm lean and small and it's made my body way better than when I was skinny. I'm healthier looking and it's noticeable that I work out b/c of my physique. I used to desire to be skinny but now I'd never go back to skinny. I'd see if your gym offers any weight/resistance types classes that are beyond the rubber bands. Things like deadlifts, squats, lunges, etc have made my body something I love. Also, REMEMBER... muscle burns more calories so while you're on vacation if you can build up some muscle in advance you won't gain while your'e there b/c your muscles will burn off the excess (or at least more of it than it would without the muscles).

Also, cardio in and of itself is useless if you're doing it at a steady pace. Do HIIT -High intensity interval training. Basically, you can walk or slow cycle (or slow step if on a stair climber) for one minute, then go as quick as you can for 30 seconds at a higher speed or resistance. You want to push yourself to the point where you don't think you can last 30 seconds, then go slow again for another minute. It works b/c it never lets your body get used to what you're doing. I do this for 20 minutes only b/c I can't last much longer than that.

I'd do resistance training or weights 3 days a week and cardio HIIT style 2 days a week for the time you're trying to look your best. I'm sure you already look great, but this is what I do and I'm 27 and love my body better now than when I was a teenager.
posted by DorothySmith at 9:20 PM on April 4, 2013 [5 favorites]

I agree with the others who say cutting sugar and cleaning your diet will have drastic positive consequences. Ten days after I went completely cold turkey on sugared coffee, ice cream and soforth (I was an addict), I lost 8 pounds of bloat and muffin top. A month in, and all my cellulite vanished, I lost 13 pounds, and I started seeing clear muscle definition lines in my abs for the first time since I was an eating-disordered model in my teens. I am 5'4" and was hovering around 155 at the time.

In addition to that, once I started lifting heavier / more intensely, you know, the weirdest thing happened. I went UP a cup size in bras, and simultaneously lost 2 inches in my waist, so my boobs looked even better. I did not expect that, but, you know, as it turns out I didn't lose any boob volume, I just managed to grow some pecs to support them. My chest has never, er, looked better. I was a borderline A cup my entire adult life and only now in my mid-40s do I have really cute full-B boobs. I can't think of anything more body-positive for bikini-time than having cute perky boobs (of whatever size) because they're being correctly supported by adequate pec muscle underneath.

And it only happened because I started lifting like I was serious about lifting. The reality of this is basically the opposite of what all those wrongheaded women's fitness "lift-the-pink-Barbie-weights 200 times" cardio freaks will tell you. Those competitive bodybuilding ladies who get that weird giant shoulders / upper body and completely lose their boobs thing going on? That only happens because they're doped up on so much anabolic that they've tricked their endocrine systems into believing they are men.
posted by lonefrontranger at 10:52 AM on April 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

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