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I’m not a huge horror film fan but once in awhile I enjoy a good scary movie. So this weekend I watched Possession, about a young girl who becomes—you guessed it– possessed by a demon. I won’t give it all away, but suffice to say it had a unique ending and was actually pretty good. bikini-glyph-icon_G1VpnhI_

And it totally freaked me out.

But it also made me realize I’ve experienced something far scarier and far more likely to happen to other women than demonic possession:

BATHING SUIT SHOPPING!

Let’s call it BSS to spare us from repeating this terrifying phrase.

Between the overhead lighting (to better magnify every tiny imperfection) and an infinity mirror that shows off every one of your worst angles in all its glory for miles and miles, the only thing missing from the BSS scenario is the music from Jaws and a screenplay penned by Stephen King. No one over the age of 12 looks good in those mirrors, trust me.

So I was not surprised to read that an online survey by Harris Poll of over 2,000 Americans, which found that 32% (including men and women) had not worn a swimsuit in public in more than five years or ever. Five percent have never worn a bathing suit! I’m guessing they got as far as the dressing room and figured it wasn’t worth the anguish.

With that in mind, I thought of a recent cover story I wrote for Oxygen magazine about getting yourself in bikini ready shape. While the magazine caters to a younger audience, the advice pertains to anyone who wants to get in better shape–although “tankini-ready” may be more accurate for those of us who dare venture to sandy shores.

Oxygen cover

Either way, you may never love BSS, you can make it far less terrifying with a few tweaks to your current exercise and eating plan.

The Oxygen exercises do not require any equipment other than your own bodyweight, so you can do them anywhere. Feel free to check out the magazine on your own (you can find it in most supermarkets), but here’s a sampling of some of the exercises and sample meal plans and tips for you to try…

BSS EATING TIPS

These nutrition tips will keep you feeling full while cutting calories. It includes a quick and easy calorie calculation and sample menu.

–Eat every three to four hours, for a total of three meals and two snacks a day, including within 30 minutes of waking up. This keeps your metabolism revved up and helps burn calories throughout the day.

–Include a lean protein (egg whites, chicken, fish, soy protein, etc.) and small amount (1/4 – 1/2 cup max) complex carbohydrate (brown rice, 1 slice whole-grain bread or 1/2 sweet potato) at every meal and snack to keep energy levels up and help you feel full.

–Plan one of these meals or snacks to fall within 30 minutes of finishing your workout, during the “recovery period” when your body is most efficient at utilizing carbohydrates and protein for muscle building and replacing glycogen (blood sugar stores).

–Know your calorie needs: multiply your weight (lbs) by 10 to figure your basal metabolic needs (your body at rest) and then factor in activity by multiplying by 1.5 (this covers three to five days of 45-minute workouts). Then subtract 250 to 500 calories a day for the number of calories you need to take in to lose one to two pounds a week. For example:

 

140 lb. x 10 = 1,400 calories basal energy needs

2. 1,400 x 1.5 activity factor = 2,100 calories

3. Subtract 500 = 1,600 calories a day to lose two pounds a week

 

Here’s a sample 1,500-calorie menu:

Breakfast

½ cup rolled oats made with 1 cup skim milk, topped with 2 tbsp sliced almonds and 2 slices turkey bacon

Snack 1

6 oz low fat Greek yogurt (plain) topped with 1 cup blueberries (this may also be blended into a smoothie)

Lunch

Chicken and black bean burrito: whole wheat wrap (< 120 calories), add 4 oz. grilled chicken breast, 1/2 cup black beans, peppers, mushrooms and onions (raw or steamed frozen) and roll up. Top with salsa

Snack 2

Two brown rice cakes with a Laughing Cow cheese wedge

Dinner

4 oz. grilled salmon with 1/2 cup cooked quinoa. Serve with a side salad using non-starchy veggies (broccoli, asparagus, celery, etc.) and 1 tbsp olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing

 

Daily totals:

Calories: 1,585

Protein: 118 g

Carbs: 180 g

Fat: 46 g

 

BSS FAT-BURNING CARDIO

Try this 22-minute interval program once or twice a week in place of your usual, longer workouts:

 

Time      Interval                 Exertion level (1 – 10)

 

5 min     warm-up              3 – 4

1 min     speed                       7 – 9

2 min     recovery               5 – 6

1 min     speed                       7 – 9

2 min     recovery               5 – 6

1 min     speed                       7 – 9

2 min     recovery               5 – 6

1 min     speed                       7 – 9

2 min     recovery               5 – 6

5 min     cool-down           3 – 4

 

BSS TONING & TIGHTENING WORKOUT

These four exercises target nearly every major muscle group, aside from biceps–so add a few dumbbell curls to complete the picture. Strive for 12 to 15 reps, 2 to 3 sets each, 3 times a week.

–Squats (legs and butt)

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Extend your hands straight out in front of you to help keep your balance.

–Sit back and down like you’re sitting into an imaginary chair. Lower yourself until your thighs are as parallel to the floor as possible, with your knees over your ankles. –Press your weight back into your heels. Keep your body tight, and push through your heels to bring yourself back to the starting position. For a greater challenge: do these with a weighted bar across your shoulders.

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–Two-legged floor bridges (hamstrings, butt and core)

Lie on your back with knees bent, feet on the floor and arms down to your sides. ——-Raise your hips by digging your heels into the ground and pushing up until your shoulders, hips and knees form a straight line.

–Squeeze your glutes as you pause at the top and slowly lower back down; do not rest between reps.

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–Push-ups  (chest, triceps, core and shoulders)

Get on the floor and position your hands slightly wider than your shoulders.

Rise up onto your knees or, for more of a challenge, on to your toes and hands, keeping your body in a straight line from head to toe (this may also be done against a countertop, leaning into it with the edge of the countertop at chest level).

–Keep your abdominals engaged (imagine someone’s about to tickle you) throughout the entire push up.

–Lower yourself until your elbows are at a 90 degree angle and then push back to starting position.

pushups

–Planks (core, abs, back)

Start by standing, with your forearms against the wall, and progress to traditional on-your-toes planks. If you’re a beginner go for 20 to 30 seconds and work your way up to a minute or more.

Lie on your stomach and prop yourself up on your forearms and the balls of your feet, elbows directly under your shoulders.

–Engage your abdominals as you raise your body off the ground until you’re in a straight line: shoulders, hips, knees and ankles should all align.

–Do not allow your hips to hike up or sag. Hold 20 to 60 seconds. Repeat.

plank

Researching this story inspired me, so I hope it does the same for you!

 

If you like this newsletter please pass it along to others who may benefit from it and send it out through your Twitter, Google+ and other social networks, I’d be forever grateful.

 

Take action: Which tips do you plan on using this week? Please leave a note in the comments section along with any questions. I’d love to hear from you!

 

Fit, fab & feisty,

Linda