Short Cuts to a Beach Body in One Month, One Week or One Day
Despite your best intentions, that beach holiday is just around the corner and your New Year's resolution to eat more healthily and take more exercise is a distant memory. There's no magic fix that can make you a beach goddess without any effort, but there are a few tricks that can make the most of what you've got on a very limited timetable.
If You Have One Month
Buy some moisturiser. It doesn't really matter what brand, although you may get better results with formulas that are marketed as "firming" or "toning". The key thing is not what kind of moisturiser you use, but what you do with it, because you will actually be using it as a lubricant for massage. (It is possible to follow these instructions without moisturiser but you will probably find it more comfortable with a lubricant.) After your shower, apply the cream generously and massage it into your problem zones, such as your thighs, bottom and upper arms. Apply firm pressure using a kneading motion. Over the weeks this will improve the appearance of your skin, making dimples less visible and the skin surface smoother.
Any exercise you can fit in will help, of course, but this article is not really about exercise, it's about cheats. One sneaky way to fit a bit of exercise into your day is to do it in front of the TV. Lunge, squat or repeatedly clench your buttocks while watching your favourite soap.
Finally - make sure you drink plenty of water.
If You Have One Week
Find the location of your nearest vibration machines. These go by different names such as i-Fit, Power Plate, Vibetone etc., but the basic principle is the same. You stand on a plate that vibrates at a high frequency, your body tries to resist the vibration and keep its equilibrium, and so your muscles are brought into action without you actually moving.
Research from NASA shows that vibration training increases bone density and reduces the risk of osteoporosis, and should be able to prevent muscle atrophy in space. The effects on healthy adults who aren't in space are less well researched, but some doctors believe that the way it stimulates your muscles has a wide range of health and fitness benefits. (You should not do vibration training if you are pregnant, suffer from seisures or thrombosis, or have any electrical implants or a loose retina.)
If you want to improve your tone within a week you should do four or five sessions, each session lasting ten minutes. Don't do more than one session per day. Many salons sell blocks of sessions, which can work out cheaper than buying them individually.
It's not enough to just stand on the plate and be jiggled; after each minute on the plate you should change your position to target different muscles. Most salons will have posters showing which positions are best for tackling the different areas. If not, ask an assistant. If the assistant doesn't know, or just tells you to stand still for the whole session - find a different salon. After a few sessions you should notice a new tightness in the skin of your legs, reducing the appearance of cellulite, and your muscles will also be a little more sleek and toned.
If You Have One Day
This is extreme - is there really anything you can do in one day to make yourself look better on the beach? Actually there is: a body wrap.
There are a number of different kinds of wrap, depending on the basic ingredients used. Some use seaweed extracts, some mud, others chocolate (which, although very effective, does leave you smelling disturbingly edible.) You probably won't have much choice in your local area at such short notice, so just book in for whatever type you can get, as there won't be much difference in effectiveness.
Body wraps dramatically tone and tighten skin by removing excess fluid, which takes inches off you instantly. The effect is temporary, sadly, lasting only a couple of days, but if you're looking for a little something to give you the confidence to step out in a bikini on the first day, book a body wrap for as close as possible to your departure.