Get set for summer with health and fitness tips that help tone, cleanse, and whip you into a beach-ready state of mind

Day 1: Get Adequate Amounts of Sleep

Though it may be tempting to stay up watching the contents of your DVR, studies suggest that getting seven to eight hours of shut-eye a night is necessary to ward off weight gain.  Culprits behind sleep-deprived weight gain are believed to be leptin and ghrelin, two hormones that affect how full you feel. When you’re short on sleep, levels of leptin (an appetite suppressant) fall, and levels of ghrelin (an appetite stimulant) rise—so you feel hungrier than you would otherwise.

Day 2: Detox Responsibly

Don’t let the bad rap that certain cleanses have received turn you off to the nutrient-rich benefits of juicing. “Doing a three-day juice fast through a program like Blueprint Cleanse or Organic Avenue is a safe and healthy way to detox,”  to Heidi Klum and Hilary Swank. For maximum comfort and effects, Eric Helms, co-founder of the new Cooler Cleanse (Salma Hayek is his business partner), stresses the importance of easing your body in and out of the practice. One to three days before and after, consume nutritious, easily digestible foods and avoid anything processed, caffeinated, alcoholic, sugary, or artificially flavored. Red meat, dairy products, and non-organic peanut butter are also on Helms’ do-not-eat list.

 Day 3: Attain Washboard Abs

Crunches are golden, “Fifteen perfect crunches are better than 50 sloppy ones.” So how do you perfect your form? Lie on a towel or mat with your knees at a 45-degree angle and feet flat. Place hands at the back of your head with fingers locked and lower back flat against the floor, (“Imagine there’s a magnet in your belly button pulling you down”). Fixing eyes on the ceiling, lift from your shoulders—not your neck. Exhale at the top of the movement and inhale on the way back down to the floor.

 Day 4: Burn Calories With Cold Water

Ice-cold water not only tastes better postworkout—it spreads throughout your body quicker than lukewarm H2O, re-energizing you faster and cooling you off from the inside. It also sheds calories: As your body warms the liquid to its temperature, you burn between 17 and 25 calories per glass.

Day 5: Enrol in an Exercise Class

Getting a move on is key to shedding stubborn pounds. To ensure that you stick to a regular exercise routine, enrol in a weekly class or two. Whether you take up yoga (hello, inner peace), cardio kickboxing (goodbye, pent-up stress!), or dance (now you can cha-cha with Maksim from Dancing With the Stars), find a class that fits your personality and pay up front—so you make breaking a sweat nonnegotiable.

Day 6: Book a Massage

Aye, there’s the rub. Bodywork and massages are “critical,” because they reduce levels of stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline—which have been linked to weight gain—and increase feel-good hormones serotonin and dopamine. Getting regular massages can increase relaxation and blood circulation (and decrease bloating).

Day 7: Squeeze In some extra cardio

15 minute of Cardio per day is pushing you way forward comparing the crowd. multiply the efforts per month, 3months, 6months and see how much you changed. You will be unstoppable.

Day 8: Embrace Healthful Carbs

Contrary to what you may think, it’s okay (and, in fact, necessary) to have carbs, but they’re not all alike. Select the healthy complex variety—fruits and veggies like cantaloupe, berries, green beans, and cauliflower, which are full of fiber and absorbed slowly into the bloodstream. Though cookies, bread, and pasta are tempting and provide a quick release of “feel-good” serotonin, these simple carbs will catch up with you in the long run. For a similar head rush without the consequences, dietician Carrie Wiatt, RD, says pasta and bread junkies should opt for whole-grain versions. “They have a lot of fiber, which is good for your digestive system.”

Day 9: Watch Less TV

Unless you’re jamming to the ELLE Make Better DVD series, watching TV could have a detrimental effect on your weight. TV viewers who saw snack commercials were inspired to eat just about anything (regardless of whether they were actually hungry). The most successful dieters, say experts, watch less than the adult average of four hours per day and weigh in at less than 10 hours per week. And if you do feel compelled to snack—whether tempted by a mouthwatering ad or not—go for vegetables and a yogurt-based dip or low-fat pretzels and hummus.

Day 10: Don’t Follow the Crowd

We’ve been known to steal a friend’s fries now and then—and who hasn’t thoroughly cleaned her plate over a lingering lunch conversation?—so it comes as no surprise that our own eating habits are influenced by our dining companions. Weight gain is socially transmissible from one person to another. Since then, further research advocates this claim, suggesting that when dining in large groups, people have a tendency to consume more by way of subconscious imitation—especially if sitting next to a robust eater. 

When eating with a group of friends or family where sharing large dishes and/or ordering tons of tapas is commonplace, pay attention to what goes on and off your plate. Also, try starting your meal with a broth-based soup or green salad (minus cheese or croutons). Research supported by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in Ireland states that beginning with low-calorie appetisers leads you to eat fewer calories during the actual dinner. More crudités, please!

Day 11: Score a Perky Posterior

Squats or lunges are a surefire way to firm your glutes—doing two sets of them with 12 to 15 repetitions will suffice (add light hand weights for more of a workout). To stay centred, focus on pressing down through the heels while pushing your hips back, which will place rightful emphasis on your glutes and hamstrings. Another way to squeeze in tush-firming exercise: Choose steps over the elevator and/or do a hard-core stair workout at home, running up and down as fast as you can for 30 seconds, then slow-climbing for two minutes (repeat this routine for a half-hour).

Day 12: Trade-In Coffee for Green Tea

While nothing can beat the heady jolt of a good cup of joe, we asked Martin to spill the beans on a healthier way to get your daily caffeine fix: green tea. “Coffee increases cravings. It can control appetite at the moment, but it will cause you to be hungrier in the long run—it makes your blood sugar shoot up, then crash hours later.” Green tea, on the other hand, is a powerful antioxidant and natural diuretic that can “help control your cravings and raise your metabolism.” Martin recommends drinking up to four cups daily.

Day 13: Apply Anticellulite Cream

Despite the fat-busting potential of a good workout, putting in time on the treadmill doesn’t always banish cellulite in areas like the upper thighs. Supplement your routine with an anticellulite cream. Though the visible results may not last longer than 24 hours, anticellulite formulas that contain caffeine, seaweed, herbs, spices, and/or bioflavonoids can temporarily diminish dimples. An anticellulite lotion with self-tanner will be especially effective, since darkening the skin creates an optical illusion. “Darker skin absorbs more light than it reflects, and so the surface appears smoother to the eye.

Day 14: Sip Red Wine, not Beer

Vino need not be relegated to special occasions. “Red wine is soothing, and it’s also good for your heart, about the antioxidant-packed beverage. And body-conscious oenophiles are in luck: Light to moderate alcohol consumption—especially red wine—is not only good for the heart, but it’s also good for the waistline.

Though a glass of wine contains about 150 calories, subjects who drank one to two glasses per day over the course of 13 years gained less weight than non-drinkers (of the 19,220 participants, the risk of obesity was 30 percent lower for wine consumers).

A potential explanation? Resveratrol, a compound present in grapes and red wine, appears to inhibit the development of fat cells.

Day 15: Go for a Ride

If you want a dancer’s body, then take a cue from ballerinas’ rigorous routines. Try this thigh-toning barre exercise: Standing straight and facing forward, slowly lifting one leg at a 90-degree angle, keeping it stiff and pointing toes. Do this eight to 12 times, repeating the exercise to the side and back, switching sides to work out your other leg. Here’s how: Stand with legs wide and toes pointed outward, slowly bending knees until they’re over your ankles.

Next, gradually straighten your legs and pull your body back up through your core. When bending legs, arms should float upward until they’re parallel to the floor; as you straighten, arms should move back down to your sides. For the ultimate thigh workout outdoors, go biking.

Day 16: Cut Back on Starchy Grains

“Wheat tends to bloat you—it makes you hold water, it inflames you, it makes you gassier, and it increases cravings. It’s one of the most important foods to limit on the menu. Eating a healthy starch like a slice of whole-grain bread or cup of steamed brown rice at lunchtime is okay, but avoid white bread at all costs.

Day 17: Tone Your Arms

Push-ups might be old-school, but they get the job done and don’t require any weights or equipment. To do the perfect push-up, start out in front of a mirror so you can check your alignment—hands should be directly under your shoulders and lined up with your chest. Also, make sure your stomach is taut and that your shoulders and neck are relaxed. Use your triceps to help execute, “Make sure you feel them engaged.” 

Another arm-toning exercise that you can do on the fly: is shoulder rotations (these will work your deltoids, the rounded muscles forming the contour of your shoulders). Standing with feet hip-width apart, raise arms out to sides slightly below shoulder level, palms facing up and fingers spread apart. Reaching outward with your fingers, rotate your arms forward at the shoulder joint until your palms face backward. Rotate arms back to start position; repeat 30 times.

Day 18: Fill Up on Good Fats

“After water, fat is the most abundant substance in your body. Fats from animal and vegetable sources provide a concentrated source of energy in the diet and are the building blocks for cell membranes, hormones, and prostaglandins.

But before you dig into that fettuccine Alfredo, take note: The type of fat you ingest is key, so stick with the “good” fats—the essential fatty acids found in avocado and virgin olive oil. And when it comes to more “bad” fats like cheese, or animal fats… Those you should consume in moderation.

Day 19: Pack On Protein

Besides being necessary to build lean muscle, protein is a potent calorie-burner because your body has to work hard to digest it. Since protein stays in your stomach longer, you also feel fuller longer, making you less likely to find refuge in sweets and greasy foods.Martin encourages women to eat 8 to 10 ounces of protein, preferably from fish, three to four times a week. Beans, nuts, eggs, and vegetable sources like soy and tofu are also great proteins.
We have a wide variety of proteins and other supplements in the gym, so the next time you are in, ask away! If youre out of ideas, read this blog post:

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Day 20: Don’t Skip Breakfast

Barely have time to unwrap a granola bar before work? We know the feeling. But never underestimate the benefits of jump-starting your day with a protein-rich breakfast.

People who eat an eggs-and-toast combo versus bagel and cream cheese reduced their waists by 83 percent more. Investigators also found that subjects who ate eggs in the morning instead of a bagel went on to consume fewer calories over the next 24 hours. Martin recommends an egg-white omelette or protein shake.

Day 21: Be Green

Eat your Greens! Spinach, Broccoli, and Asparagus “the dieting MVP” because of their nutrient-dense quality (each contains loads of antioxidants, vitamins, calcium, iron, and folic acid). Bonus: “They’re very filling and relatively low in calories. They’re also void of sugar, which can bloat you.


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With love Martin and Lisa