Riana Rohmann's stage shot from a figure competition in February 2013.
Summer is fast approaching and you have been working your butt off since the holidays (when you gained your butt) to get in tip-top shape! You are almost ready to flaunt your stuff in your swimsuit, but you are not quite there yet. You might still have a little jiggle left on your lower abs, under your glutes, or on the back of your arms that just won’t go away! This last layer of fat is the hardest to be rid of. A lot of it is just excess water that needs to be banished. To look shredded in your swimsuit and banish the jiggle, check out a few of my tricks that I use to safely drop the extra pounds and water.
1. Eat Frequently.
There continues to be much debate about the connection between meal frequency and weight loss, because some claim there is more reliability in “calories in vs. calories out.” What is proven, however, is that eating frequently keeps you satisfied longer by controlling your blood sugar. When blood sugar drops too low, hunger and cravings are more likely to cause binge eating, resulting in greater calories consumed. I opt to eat a snack every three hours to control cravings.
2. Load up on water.
Most people do not get enough water in the day. This sends a survival signal to the brain to hold water for storage in case you are unable to drink any for a while. When you start drinking more water, your body signals the brain that it is getting a sufficient amount of water, so more water can you be used for normal processes, such as sweating and digestion. In layman’s terms, you pee a lot! Not to mention you flush a lot of toxins out of your system. Try drinking 16 ounces before every meal, which may also act as a portion controller.
3. Eat the salt, and then drop the salt!
If you are currently eating a healthy diet with a dash of salt, that is great! Small amounts of sodium, which is an electrolyte, are necessary for optimal health, especially if you are active. But about two days before your debut, drop the sodium from your diet. In combination with drinking water, this will clean out your system and drop excess water weight.
4. Avoid artificial sweeteners.
This includes sugar-free products that contain sucralose (Splenda) or aspartame (Equal). These products commonly contain sorbitol which may cause gastrointestinal distress and bloating, so they should be consumed in moderation. If you are eating a ton of sugar-free products, simply eliminating them from your diet may help you to look and feel your best when you slip into your swimsuit.
5. Increase your protein and decrease your simple carbs.
If you are stalled in your weight loss, try switching your macros around by adding protein to every meal and decreasing your carbs.. This does not mean eliminate carbs completely—just try to consume them during your most active times of the day, such as the mornings or before and after your workouts. Stick to complex carbs like brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes and oatmeal, and eliminate simple carbs like white rice and pasta. Consume lean protein and fats such as tilapia, chicken breast, egg whites, almonds and avocados, along with a ton of veggies and water.
6. Eliminate sugar.
Just a small amount of sugar can throw a brick in your metabolism, which you are working hard to rev up! Not to mention, sometimes one bite is all it takes to bring all your cravings back, making it much easier to fall off the wagon. Taking off those last few pounds can be very tricky, but don’t let the temptation of sugary desserts prevent you from achieving your goals. After your swimsuit debut, if you feel the need, have a small helping of your favorite treat, but then get back on the wagon!
7. Avoid super-fibrous veggies for a few days before hitting the beach.
Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli are excellent veggies in their own rights, but they can cause bloating and gas. In the days immediately before your beach outing, stick to leafy greens such as spinach, romaine and kale to help keep your system clean and moving.
8. Avoid extremely heavy weightlifting for just a few days.
If you’re an athletic person or an avid gym-goer, great! But you may want to avoid heavy lifting for a few days before you hit the beach. Lifting heavy is the best way to build and sculpt a great physique, but it also takes a toll on those muscles. Namely, it breaks them down and, as you rest, your muscles rebuild. During that rebuilding process, your body may retain water, making you appear puffier than normal. Focus on high-repetition training, 15 repetitions max of each move, for a few days. Then, after your big beach day, go back to throwing that heavy weight around.
9. Hit the HIIT!
If you have been consistently doing cardio, such as jogging, elliptical, bike or stairs, good job! But by adding in high-intensity interval training, you can really burn a ton of calories and rev up your metabolism. This phenomenon is called post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC. When you exercise hard, your body breaks down a bit to supply your working muscles with energy. After intense exercise, your body has to work harder than usual to re-regulate itself back to normal, a process which could take up to 24 hours. If you are stuck in a rut with cardio, hop on a bike, treadmill or track and try doing 30-second sprint intervals at near maximum effort, then rest for 30 seconds and repeat, aiming to engage in HIIT three times per week.
Keep in mind that dropping excess water is temporary, so it is healthy to gain a few pounds back after your beach day. But by avoiding artificial sweeteners, sugar, excess simple carbs and sodium, you can stay lean all summer long.
Idea Health and Fitness Association: Short-Burst Training
CNN Health: Trying to Lose Weight? Drink More Water
Mayo Clinic: Gas and Gas Pains