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Saturday, April 20, 2024

The sudden influx of people at the gym during the last week of February and spring break's rapid approach are not unrelated. Like every year, the sudden need for every girl to resemble a Victoria's Secret Angel or for all guys to have muscles protruding from their shirts goes hand-in hand with skin season. But rather than trying to drop 20 pounds in time for spring break or miraculously bench pressing 300 pounds without practice, try some of these simple (and realistic) tips to look and feel your best in just two weeks.

Get real, and have a plan

If you're trying to slim down, remember one pound equals 3,500 calories. That means if you'd like to lose a pound a week, you'd need to consume 500 calories less than normal every day. Though it may be tough to calculate this down to the dot, here's the bottom line: Eat less. Eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day helps you burn more calories and helps one resist the urge to indulge.

Be picky with food choices

Foods high in sugar, such as desserts and sodas, provide empty calories, leaving you feeling hungry. Instead, opt for items that are digested slowly, are low in calories, and have a lot of fiber, such as fruits, oatmeal, vegetables and whole grains. Also, remaining hydrated is important because it flushes your system, helps you feel full and releases excess water weight.

... And with drinks

The weeks leading into spring break are just as important as your health during the trip. Use that time to re-energize the body- not debilitate it. Treating yourself to pizza and binge-drinking every night because exams are done may sound like fun, but ultimately these activities will do the body more harm than good. And while it's obvious to most that pizza contains lots of calories, believe it or not, alcohol does, too. Try mixing drinks with lemon, lime or tonic instead of going for the mixed, sweet or colored drinks. Go for clear liquids, and before you go to a party, set a limit for yourself and stick to it.

Workout, but have fun, too

Fitness for the usual couch potato may seem intimidating, but thinking of it as a game or as recreation in general can help. Getting the heart pumping is just as important as watching one's food intake, and there are several exercise tactics to choose from. In general, aerobic training can help burn the layer of fat that covers the top of the muscles. Elliptical training, running and bicycling help with toning. Yoga and Pilates are good for full-body strengthening, whereas planks, crunches and squats work core muscle groups. As a side note, experts say inadequate sleep can interfere with hormones that mediate communication of hunger and satiation in the body, so resting can be just as important as moving.

Because you're on a last-minute spring break diet, don't expect to see change right away. Look at this change as a precursor to a toned summer body. Transforming eating patterns and workout regimes also requires the toughest transformation of all: a mind makeover. To reach your goal, it's necessary to be positive and envision yourself making the changes.

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