Get ready for summer with health and fitness tips that help tone, cleanse, and white 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. Separate research done by the University of Chicago and University of Pennsylvania, for example, revealed that sleep-restricted subjects gained more weight over time than those who were well rested. 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," says Oz Garcia, PhD, nutrition specialist to Heidi Klum and Hilary Swank. For maximum comfort and effects, Eric Helms, cofounder 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 nonorganic peanut butter are also on Helms' do-not-eat list.
Day 3: Attain Washboard Abs
Crunches are golden, but in his new book David Kirsch's Abs & Arms, wellness expert Kirsch says less can be more: "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, says Kirsch ("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: Enroll in an Exercise Class
Getting a move on is key to shedding stubborn pounds. To ensure that you stick to a regular exercise routine, enroll 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. Body work and massages are "critical," says Garcia, 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 Outdoor Exercise
Rising temperatures mean even those who abhor the gym have options-power-walking just 20 to 40 minutes a day can make a huge difference, says Kirsch, fitness guru to Liv Tyler, Kerry Washington, and Heidi Klum, who recommends using half your lunchtime at work to take a brisk alfresco stroll. "This is enough to get your endorphins up, improve your mood, and help you regulate your cravings better," adds Garcia.
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