Thursday, March 17, 2011

I’ve Had The Time of My Life in a Bathing Suit

by Ilona Napravnik

Last month, an amazing opportunity fell into my lap.  I was offered an all expenses-paid 11 night Caribbean cruise for the beginning of February and it goes without saying I leapt on the opportunity thinking life was grand.  

Then reality set in when I went swimsuit shopping.  A little background, I completed a detoxification program in the fall (the program is very strict nutritionally and involves a lot of control) and as a reward I spent my holidays on a see-food diet, if I saw something remotely edible and it wasn’t nailed down, it was mine.  So my work was cut out for me in January.  Before I went into full blown panic mode I reasoned, I had a month, a treadmill and a nutrition degree, three months of excess didn’t stand a chance.

As a nutritionist the first attack was to my diet.  I eliminated all allergens; wheat, dairy, soy, citrus and corn from my diet.  If anyone is following my recommendation, along with this remove all known “bad” foods: sugar, alcohol and caffeine.  This ensures any weight gain attributed to food sensitivities, bloating and distension, would be removed.

Then I got on the treadmill every day after work, even if it was only for 15 minutes or half an hour.  Exercising for a short time every day is more advantageous than exercising excessively once a week.  And also, it takes three weeks to create a habit, so taking a night off in that three week period will make it a much harder habit to return to.  It is far too easy to let an exercise program go by the wayside unless you are diligent and stick to it.  The instant energy boost was also great for all the shopping I had to do in the lead up to going away.  

And lastly and most importantly were exercises to strengthen the core muscles.  I have been doing yoga a couple of times a week for many years and find this very helpful.  Pilates is also another core strengthener without much effort.  And most simply is the act of pulling in your stomach muscles which helps to train them to be flat.  And during my month of hardship, a friend mentioned her favourite stomach exercise which is the “plank”.  This exercise basically involves raising your body on your toes and forearms and to hold this position for a minimum of a minute.  Your body takes on the appearance of a wooden plank and hence the name.  This might sound easy but I dare you to get down on the floor right now and try it, my first attempt ended in 45 seconds.  I realized it’s also a great way to make time seemingly stop.  

That was all that was needed for one month to give myself the svelte body I had prior to the Christmas cheer.*  Bottom line, I looked great on the cruise, up until the first four course dinner but that’s another story without the happy ending.  And I had a great time.

*Results will vary depending on your level of intensity and your starting weight*  

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