It’s one week before your spring break trip to Mexico or Florida or the Dominican or anywhere warm and sunny, and you realize you’re nowhere near ready to shed those winter layers and bare a bikini. So, you vow to survive on a diet of nothing but water and lettuce for the next few days. You do more crunches than you can count. You lather on too much self-tanner and end up looking like a leopard but it’s too late to fix. Sound familiar?
This year, you don’t have to wait until the last minute to prep for spring break. We’re giving you seven HC-approved ways to start getting bikini-ready at the beginning of the semester so you can avoid that crash lettuce diet and those two days of non-stop crunches that won’t make a dent. Oh, and you won’t look like a leopard either!
1. Get motivated
At the beginning of the semester, spring break still seems far enough away that its arrival is easy to brush off, leading you to procrastinate —“eh, one cookie now won’t make a difference, I’ll start my diet next week,” you tell yourself, as one cookie quickly turns into two and next week turns into never. Instead of setting yourself up for the need to scramble to shape up at the last minute, find ways to constantly remind yourself of your goal from the get-go so that you’re motivated all along.
“When I need motivation to work out, looking at fitness boards on Pinterest always gets me going,” says Katie, a student at the University of Michigan. “You can find workout tips, pictures, quotes… to give you the push you need,” she explains. Need some Pinspiration? Scroll through HC’s Fitness board!
There are plenty of other ways to motivate yourself to stick to your plan. Make a countdown on your calendar so that you can really keep track of how much time you have. Hang your bikini up on your closet door. Tape a picture of the beach to your snack drawer. Write notes with inspirational quotations or encouraging words and stick them around your room. Do whatever will inspire you to get going now, rather than later! Keep your motivators visible so that whenever you see them, you’ll be less likely to slack and more likely to resist temptations that will set you back. Sure, those cookies are calling your name—but the beach is screaming it!
2. Detox and de-bloat
After the holidays—and that first week back to school that’s always full of more drinking than studying—we could all benefit from a little detoxification. No need to take any drastic measures, like committing yourself to a cleanse consisting of green juices that taste like a liquefied tree, but definitely try eating healthier. It’s a no-brainer, but monitoring your diet during the weeks leading up to your spring break getaway will actually get you results, whereas crash dieting three days before you leave will only get you grumpy.
Trade in fattening, high-calorie, processed foods for fruits, veggies, lean proteins, and whole grains. Check out these 10 foods you should add to your diet for ideas on healthy, tasty foods to keep you satisfied.
Cut back on the sweets and the salts—limiting your sugar intake will ensure that you don’t pack on unwanted pounds, and avoiding very salty foods will make sure your stomach is beach-ready, not bloated. Not only will revamping your diet earlier on in the game get you better results by spring break, but it will also give you some room for the occasional slip-up so that you don’t have to deprive yourself.
3. Drink water, not calories
While you’re monitoring what you’re eating, don’t forget to keep tabs on what you’re drinking as well. Cutting out liquid calories is one of the easiest ways to shed a few pounds. Find lower calorie substitutes for your favorite drinks. For example, save about 100 calories by trading your morning latte in for a cappuccino made with skim milk. Read up on HC’s list of the highest and lowest calorie drinks so that a night out doesn’t totally sabotage the hard work you’re putting in to getting bikini-ready. Try to nix soda, not only for the calories but also because the carbonation can contribute to bloating.
Most importantly, in place of all these high cal beverages— make sure to drink lots of water! Getting your daily fix of H20 can help you look better by spring break for a variety of reasons. Water can help you lose weight by keeping you from mistaking thirst for hunger. And, if you’re still not convinced that choosing water will pay off, keep in mind that staying hydrated is great for your skin—which you’ll be showing off soon enough!
4. Crank up your cardio
It may not be what you want to hear, but you know it’s true: you gotta exercise to get in shape. Fitting any form of cardio—whether it’s a brisk walk to class, climbing a few flights of stairs, or running on the treadmill—into your daily routine will help. But if you only have a month of two, then aiming for a few workouts per week that really make you break a sweat is ideal. Make a workout schedule at the start of each week so that you have set times to exercise and won’t keep putting it off for another time. Plugging these times into your calendar will make them feel like real commitments that you can’t skip.
One great way to increase the amount of calories and fat you burn per workout is through High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), which involves alternating between your regular pace and intense bursts of effort when you’re doing cardio. In other words, you maintain a normal level of activity for a few minutes, and then increase your speed and intensity for a short interval (usually about 30 seconds to 1 minute) and then return to your normal pace and repeat that sequence for the duration of your workout. You can integrate HIIT into any type of cardio (running, walking, swimming, dancing, jump roping, biking, to name a few) and you’ll be sure to burn more calories and fat in that session than you would if you maintained a slow, steady pace. Even 20-30 minutes will give you a worthwhile workout, so it’ll be easy to fit into your busy collegiette lifestyle!
5. Add in strength training
Monitoring and burning calories will help keep your weight in check, but if you’re looking to get a toned beach bod then meet your new best friend: strength training.
Strengthening exercises help reshape and tighten up different parts of your body (for example, squats and lunges for your legs and butt, or bicep curls for your arms and shoulders). Find a set of moves that targets your trouble zones and also ones that work multiple muscle groups so you can get toned all around, and aim to do a circuit of moves three to four times a week.
6. Get a glow—the safe way
You may have heard that you should get a “base tan” before hitting the beach, but you’ve also probably read a handful of articles about the dangers of tanning beds. And if you haven’t read enough of those articles and are still tempted to go tanning before spring break, keep in mind that tanning beds can increase your risk of melanoma, the most deadly type of skin cancer, by 75%, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
But if you do want your skin to be a shade darker than your winter complexion, there’s still hope for you. The good thing about getting ready for spring break well enough in advance is that you have enough room to get a summery glow the healthy way: gradual self-tanning lotions. Slowly working your way up to getting bronzed will ensure that you have time to fix any streaks or spots (or Oompa Loompa colored mishaps), so you can maintain the right color up until your trip. Follow these 7 healthy ways to get a glow in the winter and you’ll be golden.
7. Buddy up
Chances are you’re not flying solo to Puerto Vallarta, so recruit a friend to join you in the quest to get bikini-ready. Buddying up at the start of the semester will help you stay on track by keeping you motivated, accountable, and excited. “Before spring break last year, my friends and I did ab workouts together that we found on YouTube,” Alex, a collegiette from Boston University, says. “It was actually fun because we did it all together so it wasn’t as hard to do it every day.” Workouts will seem less daunting when you know you can gossip with your friend while doing it. And, when you’d much rather stay in bed watching Netflix than hit the gym, a friend can give you the push you need. Make a pact together and stick to it!
If you stick to these tips from the start of the semester, you can be sure that one week before your big beach getaway, instead of panicking and crash dieting like usual, you’ll be relaxed and ready to go. Vamos a la playa!